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Chipotle Walnut Tart

Chipotle Walnut Tart

YIELD: 10 servings

For the spicy candied walnuts:
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. chili powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 egg white
1 cup walnut pieces
For the tart dough and shell:
1/3 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
7 Tbsps. unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. heavy cream

For the chipotle chocolate ganache:
1 ¾ cups heavy cream
2 dried chipotle peppers
1 ¼ lbs. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp. sugar
pinch of salt

For serving:
powdered sugar in a sieve
avocado ice cream, as needed
pinch of sea salt

1. For the spicy candied walnuts: Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a large shallow baking pan with parchment paper. In a medium bowl combine brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, chili powder and cayenne. With clean, dry fingers, stir together until ingredients are blended evenly, breaking up any lumps of brown sugar. Set aside.
2. Put egg white in another medium bowl and whisk just until foamy. Add the walnuts and toss to coat thoroughly and evenly with egg white. With a slotted spoon transfer walnuts to sugar mixture. Using hands, toss to coat the walnuts evenly with sugar and spices. Spread walnuts on parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving some space between the pieces. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until sugar coating looks puffy and brown. Cool completely and break the nuts apart. Chop them coarsely and store in airtight container until serving.
3. For the tart dough: In a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine powdered sugar, salt and butter and beat until blended and smooth. Add egg yolk and flour, and mix on low speed until the mixture has a dry, crumbly consistency. Add the heavy cream and mix just until the dough masses together. Scrape the dough onto your work surface and pat it into a round disk about 1” thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes. (The dough is easier to handle if it is cool, but not thoroughly chilled. If you have refrigerated overnight, let sit at room temperature until it softens slightly before rolling). The dough may also be made in the food processor, but take care not to overblend.
4. Preheat oven to 425°F. To make the tart shell, on a floured surface, roll out the dough to a circle about 11” across. Fit the dough into a 9” tart pan (preferably one with a removable bottom), pressing it firmly over the bottom and sides. Trim off any overhanging dough. Prick the surface of the dough several times with a fork, then press a large square of foil snugly into the tart shell, directly onto the bottom and sides of the dough; this helps the tart shell keep its shape during the first part of baking. Bake for about 8 minutes, then remove the foil (if the dough puffs up, prick it gently with fork) and continue baking about 6-8 minutes more, until the tart shell looks dry, crispy and lightly browned. Cool completely before filling.
5. For the chipotle chocolate ganache: Put the cream and peppers in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring just to a boil over moderate heat, then cover and set aside off heat for 5-10 minutes. Pour the hot cream through a strainer into a bowl, pressing gently on the chilies, and return cream to saucepan. Add the chocolate, sugar and salt to the cream and place over low heat. Stir gently and almost constantly until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. This will only take a few minutes, do not let chocolate get too hot. Set aside, off heat, for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Pour the chocolate mixture into the cooled tart shell. Refrigerate the tart briefly—about a half hour.
6. When you tilt the tart pan, the filling should stay in place. Remove from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before serving. Before serving, sprinkle spiced walnuts over top of the tart. Cut tart into wedges and transfer to dessert plate. Dust lightly with powdered sugar and accompany with avocado ice cream and a pinch of sea salt.

Photo and recipe: California Walnuts

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