I have given up a lot of sugar, but I am still a complete sucker for maple syrup. When maple syrup is combined with nuts (and cream, of course), I’m all in.
This tart combines that winning combination of flavours with an excellent pastry. The pastry is based on hazelnuts, which makes it strong enough, but not too firm. You could easily supplement almond or another nut meal. Most nuts work well – macadamias, in particular, are great. You could use a single type of nut or a mix. Honey, golden syrup or rice malt syrup could be swapped in for the maple syrup. You may need to microwave them first as they are quite a lot thicker than maple syrup.
150g plain flour
100g hazelnut meal
60g icing sugar mixture (pure icing sugar is too firm)
125g cold butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
230g nuts, shelled
1 tbsp plain flour (extra)
55g brown sugar
50g butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly whisked
185ml maple syrup (NOT the fake stuff!)
Heat your oven to 200c.
Put the 150g flour, nut meal, icing sugar, butter in a food processor and blitz until the mix looks a bit like small breadcrumbs. At this point, I turn the mix into a bowl, then add the egg yolk, cutting it in with a knife until the mix just comes together. Alternatively, you could just blitz the egg in with the rest of the mix in the food processor, but don’t go nuts with it. It doesn’t have to be super smooth – you should be able to form a ball with some mix.
Turn the mix onto a lightly floured board and knead very lightly, just until it seems smooth. Ideally, you want it to stay cool. Roll the mix into a ball, cover it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to cool.
While the pastry cools, toast the nuts on a tray in the oven for about 3-4 minutes. This will really depend on the size of the nuts. You want the nuts lightly toasted – once they’re golden, take them out. Let them cool for a while.
Back to the pastry. You will need to roll the pastry to about 3mm thick. You could line 8 10cm tins, or 1 big tin. Flour the tins first and trim off any excess pastry from the edges. Put back in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to firm up. Place a little crumpled baking paper in each tart, then pour baking weights or rice over. Place in the oven (supported with a tray underneath) for about 7-8 minutes for small tins, or 12-15 minutes for a large tin. The pastry should turn a golden colour. Meanwhile, whisk together the extra flour, brown sugar, melted butter, eggs and maple syrup. You could add some spices in at this point if desired.
Remove the tarts from the oven. Turn the oven down to 160c. Remove the weights and baking paper from the tarts. Sprinkle the nuts into the tarts, the pour over the maple mixture. Bake in the oven around 20 minutes (for small tarts) or 35 minutes for a large tart. The tarts are done when the mixture is just set and stops wobbling.