Walnut tart with brandy icing

This recipe is taken from Keith Floyd’s excellent book, Floyd On France, which accompanied one of his earlier, and better, BBC TV series.

The tart is a traditional recipe from south-western France, where walnuts are a major crop and turn up in all manner of dishes.

The tart is simplicity itself to make.

Ingredients

Shortcrust pastry (you really can’t use puff here)
125g shelled walnuts, ground down to the texture of ground almonds
100ml double cream
100g caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, separated and the white whipped stiff
a pinch of salt
50g icing sugar
a glass of brandy (Armagnac in the original recipe)
About 10-12 walnut halves

First line a shallow tart dish with the pastry and blind bake for 15 minutes.

Blend the ground walnuts, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla and egg yolk (Floyd doesn’t use this, but I find it helps the filling set better) until smooth and fold in the egg white.

Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake at 190C until the filling is just set and golden on top.

Blend the brandy and icing sugar to make a thinnish paste for icing the tart.

When the tart is cool, ideally the next day, drizzle the icing over the surface and allow it to set. Decorate the finished tart with the walnut halves.

Serve this with crème fraiche, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

A glass of something sweet works brilliantly with this dessert, perhaps a Sauternes, Loupiac, Monbazillac or another other botrytis dessert wine from the south-west, which would be a traditional pairing or maybe a glass of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise?

We had this as our Christmas Day dessert, with ice cream and some double cream with Grand Marnier beaten in, neither of us really like Christmas pudding and this is a slightly lighter but still luxurious end to the meal.

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