Servings: 6 servings
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
1-½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 (14-inch) disks pie crust, thawed
2 whole eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon imitation brandy extract
2/3 cup granulated sugar, to taste
5 ounces hazelnuts (see tips), roasted
2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 dozen ripe plums, the quantity varies with the size of the fruit
juice of a lemon
1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the pie shell:
Line a (12-inch) non-stick pie mold with parchment paper and top with one level of pastry dough. Patch together the dough from the side of the mold.
Prick the dough with a fork. Line the dough with another sheet of parchment paper and top with ceramic pie weights (dried beans work well too). Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Remove the pie weights and discard the pieces of parchment paper. Bake for another 2-3 minutes so the pie crust can dry. Remove from the heat and let the dough cool a little down. Set aside.
How to make hazelnut flour: You can either buy ready-made hazelnut flour or make it yourself. Remember to get a little more than 250 grams (about 9 ounces) of whole hazelnuts to get the correct amount of flour. Place whole hazelnuts in a metal bowl, then cover them with boiling water. Let it sit for no longer than 2 minutes. Strain and transfer them into a cold water bath. Pat them dry on a towel, and the skins should come right off. Then grind them with a food processor or spice grinder. Make sure you stop before it turns into nut butter. I use the VitaMix Dry Blade Container. The result should be a fine mill.
For the hazelnut cream:
Using a hand-held mixer, whisk 2 eggs with about ¼ cup of sugar until you get a pale yellow foam. It will take about 5-6 minutes. The consistency should be very airy. Add the remaining vanilla and brandy extracts. Set aside.
Cream 8 tablespoons of butter (at room temperature) with the remaining sugar. Pour in the egg mixture. Add the remaining ground hazelnuts and salt. Mix until the batter is smooth.
Wash the plums, peel and cut them in half. Transfer to a bowl. Coat them in lemon juice.
In a non-stick pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar (if used). Add the plums. Sprinkle more brown sugar if the fruit isn't sweet enough, although these didn't require it. Toss well. Sprinkle with flour.
Place the hazelnut cream in the center of the pre-baked pie shell. Top with the halved plums.
Using a rolling pin, make sure the pastry dough of the second disk is slightly larger than the circumference of the pie mold.
Gather the second level of puff pastry and prick it using a lattice dough cutter. Cover the pie with the dough and bake for 15 minutes at 375°F, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 25-30 minutes.
Let the pie cool for a few minutes. Remove the pie from the mold. For a perfect result, I use a loose-bottomed mold; it's very convenient. You can serve each slice warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a cup of masala chai.
The darker the skin of the plums the sweeter they are. You can also ripen the fruits by putting them together with a banana in a paper lunch bag.
Little reminder on how to roast nuts*: To release all the flavor and oil of the nuts, I like to roast them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 325°F before using them. The only nuts that I dry roast on the stove are pine nuts. They are smaller, cook more quickly and are much easier to watch and manipulate on the stove top.
To make sure the disks of dough fit into the mold, I roll the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper (or between 2 silicone mats), this eliminates the needs for extra flour on the rolling surface, which can change the texture of the dough.
Parchment paper is very convenient when you use molds that aren't non-stick. If you're extra cautious, grease the molds with butter before lining them with parchment paper.
I use McCormick brandy extract. If you don't have any, you can use the real thing.
You can make these fruit tarts with any other fruit such as nectarines, peaches, berries, pears or figs, depending on the season. Be creative!
Check out my other desserts.