Hazelnut Tart Crust

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This past Sunday, we headed off to a party for all the volunteers of the walking events we do every Monday and Wednesday. We didn’t feel that we could show up empty-handed, so we spent some time thinking about what to bring. Almost immediately, we realized that we needed to bring something gluten-free. For us — we are so used to using flour in virtually everything — that might be a challenge. We’re up for a challenge, so let’s get scratchin’.

For a gluten-free dessert dish, we immediately thought of a version of Tourteau de Chèvre, as it’s way too good for how easy it is to make, and the filling is gluten-free, but which one? Plain? Nah, too plain. Almond with Peaches? Nope! No peaches (If you think that store- bought peaches are making it into our baking, well, think again!). Chocolate? Of course, chocolate, that fifth food group. Now for the crust. How can we make a gluten-free crust? Nuts, of course, and what kind of nuts go with chocolate? Yes, yes, we know, all nuts really go with chocolate, but we were thinking hazelnuts. A quick search turned up this recipe for hazelnut tart crust, but we modified it a bit, as you’ll see. Basically, we wanted to ensure that the crust would stick together, so we added an egg white.

Makes one 9-inch crust.

Hazelnut Tart Crust

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbs unsalted butter, melted

Abbreviated Instructions

Place hazelnuts, salt, baking soda, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the nuts are finely ground.

With processor running, add egg white and process until a dough forms and rides on the blade.

Press into a buttered tart pan, dipping your fingers in melted butter as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking. Refrigerate until your filling is ready.

Fill and bake.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2013/10/hazelnut-tart-crust/

Ingredient discussion:

Yes, take the trouble to toast and skin the hazelnuts, or buy some that have already been toasted and skinned. The skins are bitter; you don’t want them in the crust. For the egg white, try to use the best quality eggs you can find, ideally from truly pastured hens. We couldn’t this time, because we didn’t plan well enough to buy the proper number of eggs at the CSA, so we went with store-bought eggs. Gasp! (We did buy organic eggs, though.)

Procedure in detail:

Well, there really isn’t too much detail, but at least we have pictures.

grinding hazelnuts
All the dry ingredients can go into the food processor at the same time. It’ll grind the nuts and mix everything all at once.

Combine dry ingredients. Place all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, then pulse and run the processor to grind the hazelnuts. It shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds or so. Just don’t grind so long that you end up with hazelnut butter!

adding egg white
The egg white adds protein, which, when baked, should help bind the crust together.

Add egg white. With the processor running, pour in the egg white and let the processor run until the dough comes together, about 15 seconds. We really thought we might need to add some melted butter, but the egg white had enough moisture to bring everything together.

The dough is sticky, so butter your fingers to work with it. Or press it out under a piece of parchment paper.
The dough is sticky, so butter your fingers to work with it. Or press it out under a piece of baking parchment.

Press into pan. Well, it turns our that this is some sticky dough, so we were glad we had melted butter at our disposal. Dip your fingers into the melted butter and press the dough into the pan. We only wanted a bottom layer for our crust; it might be difficult to get it built  up the sides of the pan.

hazelnut tart crust
Our springform pan, lined with hazelnut tart crust.

Refrigerate. We still had to make the filling, so we just popped the prepared tart crust into the fridge to cool and firm up a bit.

Fill and bake. We didn’t want to try blind-baking this crust; the nuts might burn. Our dessert was going to bake for about an hour, and we thought an hour would be plenty of time for the crust to bake, so we just filled it and set it in the oven.

Fortunately, this crust baked up very well. The egg white held it together with no problems, but we will say that the flavor could have been better. It was just a bit too overwhelmingly hazelnut-flavored, giving a slightly bitter taste. If we hadn’t been trying for a gluten-free crust, we would have just used a standard tart crust with nuts, such as a variation on the Flaky Almond Pastry Dough. Next time, we’d make it the same way, but substitute either almonds (good) or pecans (better). As is, we’ll give this crust three stars.

Worth the trouble?

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