what i did – deep-dish brown butter hazelnut tart

what i did – deep-dish brown butter hazelnut tart

More than holiday preparation and celebration, December is the time of year when one thing looms large for me: an inventory of what I’ve done in 2012.

Then there’s the counter-list of the undone: rearranging the pantry, organizing my office and closets, practicing the art of decorating cookies and cakes, or simply cooking more from the plethora of cookbooks that I hoarded this year.

One task that sat on this list was the successful rolling of pie dough. In October, though, it moved to the inventory of accomplishments. At this year’s Pie Party, Chef Tagere gave a pie crust demo and pronounced that Kerrygold butter, the sponsor for the event, possessed the luck of leprechauns. No cracks appeared when she rolled a mass of dough into a thin buttery blanket.

So with the help of Kerrygold butter I got from Pie Party, I started to fulfill a promise to myself to at least practice a few more times if not perfect the skill of rolled crusts. With some inspiration from Chef Tagere, I managed to roll out the dough with ease. The experience left me hopeful to turn out more pies and tarts.

I see an Apple Pie on the horizon, M’s favorite, and perhaps a Coconut Cream Pie for myself. For now, this nut tart with hazelnuts and chocolate is what I planned to bring to a holiday dinner party. The flavor of toasted hazelnuts is further enhanced by Frangelico (hazelnut liquor). The crunchy top crust contrasts with the gooey filling. It’s a rich dessert that’s fit for a festive holiday celebration.

Deep-Dish Brown Butter Hazelnut Tart


Flaky Butter Tart Crust
  • 1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour , plus additional flour for work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 ounces/1 stick), cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and frozen for 10 minutes
  • 4 teaspoons sour cream
  • 3–4 tablespoons ice water
Brown Butter Hazelnut Filling
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces/1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons Frangelico (hazelnut liquor)
  • 3/4 cup (5-1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and chopped


Flaky Butter Tart Crust

1. Process flour, salt, and sugar together in food processor until combined, about 3 seconds. Add butter and pulse until butter is size of large peas, about ten 1-second pulses.

2. Using fork, mix sour cream and 3 tablespoons ice water in small bowl until combined. Add half sour cream mixture to flour mixture; pulse for three 1-second pulses. Repeat with remaining sour cream mixture. Pinch dough with fingers; if dough is dry, and does not hold together, add additional tablespoon water and process until dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, three to five 1-second pulses.

3. Turn dough out onto work surface, flatten into 4-inch disk, wrap disk in plastic, and refrigerate until firm but not hard, 1 to 2 hours, before rolling.

4. Sprinkle work surface lightly with flour, roll disk of dough into 12-inch circle (about 1/8-inch thick). (If dough is soft and/or sticky, refrigerate until firm.) Place disc of dough into 9-inch deep tart pan with removable bottom. Working around circumference of tart pan, ease dough into pan by gently lifting the edge of dough with one hand while pressing into pan bottom with other hand, trim off excess. Refrigerate until firm, about 40 minutes.

Brown Butter Hazelnut Filling

1. Remove tart shell from refrigerator and freeze 20 minutes. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375℉. Line chilled shell with parchment paper, covering the edges of dough. Top with pie weights and bake for 20 minutes. Remove pie weights, parchment and continue to bake for another 5-8 minutes, until slightly golden.

2. Remove tart shell from oven and reduce oven temperature to 325℉. Sprinkle chocolate over bottom of hot crust. Let sit 3 minutes, then spread chocolate into even layer; set aside.

3. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until butter is nutty brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Off heat, slowly stir in Frangelico (mixture will bubble strongly) and let cool 5 minutes.

4. Whisk granulated sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, and salt in large bowl until combined. Add eggs, yolk, and vanilla, whisking until smooth. Slowly whisk in warm butter mixture until incorporated. Stir in hazelnuts and pour filling into chocolate-lined crust. Bake until filling is puffed and center jiggles slightly when pie is gently shaken, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack for minimum of 4 hours for the filling to set. Serve. Pie can be refrigerated, covered, for 2 days.

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated