Kim selected the Grape and Hazelnut Tart for this week's Sunday Slow Bakers. Kim was really a big inspiration for even starting the Sunday Slow Bakers. Last fall after she got the book Dolce Italiano she started baking and blogging about the recipes. I was intrigued and ended up getting the book. Then I thought of doing the baking blogging thing as a group effort after reading about Tuesdays with Dorie - a similar group baking and blogging effort. The difference with the Sunday Slow Bakers is that we are not going to confine ourselves to one book. After we work through our list of participants, we will move on to another book. But for now, I am quite glad that we are baking our way through Dolce Italiano.
The Grape and Hazelnut Tart is a very different and delicious dessert. This is a tart to make for a really elegant dinner party. It is rich and slightly decadent tasting, which is unusual to find in a dessert that doesn't involve chocolate. It is similar to a frangipane pear tart that I typically make around the holidays — the hazelnuts standing in for the almonds and the grapes instead of wine poached pears. The fact that all you need to do is slice the grapes and set them on top of the filling makes this much easier to make than my pear version which has to be started the day before so that the pears can sit in their poaching liquid overnight in the refrigerator.
I used Gina's Sweet Tart Crust as recommended and found that it was a little stickier and harder to deal with than my usual tart pastry. But I managed to get it into the tart pan with no problems. Now, I did use a slightly larger tart pan than called for in the recipe. I used an 11-inch pan instead of a 10-inch pan. Luckily that didn't seem hurt. I had plenty of filling, and I used about a pound of grapes, just as called for in the recipe. I also deviated slightly from the recipe by using some framboise instead of grappa to toss over the cut grapes. I didn't have grappa and I figured the hint of raspberry in the framboise would work just fine. And I think it did.
My grapes were very large. It's not grape season yet, so I picked up some Black Seedless grapes imported from Peru at my local Trader Joe's. I don't know what variety these grapes are, but they are huge. I cut them lengthwise because I thought if I cut them the other way they would stick up like pillars and possibly get the tops singed off! They also reminded me of small dark purple plums, and it got me thinking that this recipe would probably be delicious with plums.
But all those rows of concentric circles do look pretty with grapes and you especially see the pattern before it goes in the oven. After it comes out, the nut filling puffs up and browns slightly. It's still a very attractive tart but the grapes can get partly covered up. Don't worry, you're going to be cutting into this tart just as soon as it cools, or maybe even before it cools.
A slice of this tart does not need to be large. It is rich. But it is also tasty enough that you should probably give people a large slice, because they will undoubtedly eat it. Enjoy!