This may come as a shock, so let me just rip the Band Aid right off: I didn’t cook anything for Thanksgiving dinner – in fact, I went out to eat. I know. I know! I’ve broken the rules. I’ve let you down. I’ve betrayed your trust. Thanksgiving as you know it is disintegrating right before your very eyes. But hear me out: it was just my husband and I for Thanksgiving this year, and there are several restaurants in Boulder that offer a prix fixe Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings for less than what it would have cost me to buy all of the groceries; plus the fact that I didn’t have a dish to clean or a pan to scrape. And you know what? Going out for Thanksgiving dinner is… kind of awesome.
I made reservations for us at Salt at 2:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving day: a time early enough to still be considered lunch, but late enough to ensure that I wouldn’t be hungry for the rest of the day. We had a grand old time, eating and drinking and being all kinds of merry, and the thought that I’d forgotten the rolls or allowed the turkey to catch fire in the oven never once crossed my mind. After our enormous meal, we walked along the street and peeked in the windows of some historic homes, where many meals were still underway.
That night we went to some friends’ house for after-dinner drinks and dessert. Of course, I couldn’t show up empty handed, so I was sure to take them a few slices of my project from the day before: a nut tart. OK, so the words “nut and “tart” don’t go very well together, especially with the whole first-word-ends-in-t-second-word-begins-with-t thing, the clang of two monosyllabic words together, and the fact that nuts, well, just aren’t tart. But I’m here to dispel all of these things! Well, not exactly. Just read on, OK?
This nut tart is a great option for those who are in the mood for something sweet, but not of the default chocolate variety (although, I will add that making this a chocolate nut tart would be over-the-top amazing, and if you do it, I want your recipe tweaks and a piece Fed Ex’ed to my condo). Brown sugar, honey, and heavy cream come together to make a decadent, caramely coating for toasted nuts, which are then baked in a citrus-scented crumbly crust – made with plenty of butter, natch. The crust’s cinnamon adds a pleasant warmth, and the heavy dose of vanilla in the filling adds depth and richness.
For my tart, I chose a lively mix of walnuts, pecans, almonds and pistachios, but you know my motto: make it your own. Mad for macadamias? Go for it. Hot for hazelnuts? Do it to it. Heck, even add things that aren’t nuts, like chopped dried fruit or white chocolate chips. The tart makes one heck of an afternoon snack with a cup of black coffee, and stores well in an airtight container for up to a week.
Of course I missed my family and the normal tradition of Thanksgiving this year, but I have to say, maybe we’ve just started a new one of our own. Enjoy!
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Vanilla Orange Scented Nut Tart
(adapted from Blue Eggs & Yellow Tomatoes)
1 3/4 c. flour
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
10 Tbs. butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 c. honey
3/4 c. walnuts, chopped
3/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted
3/4 c. pistachios, toasted
1 Tbs. vanilla
To make the crust: Butter the bottom of an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Combine the flour, powdered sugar, salt, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse together to blend. Add the butter and orange zest and pulse until the mixture resembles a moist, coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan (it’ll be very crumbly, no worries), and press the dough firmly and evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Freeze the crust while preparing the filling.
Preheat the oven to 425°.
To make the filling: Bring the cream, both sugars, and the honey to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Continue to boil until the mixture thickens and darkens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts and vanilla. Spoon the filling evenly over the frozen crust.
Bake until the filling is caramel brown and the crust is golden, about 20 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
Laura is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville, but has recently moved to Boulder, Colorado. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more from Laura, see her past stories, visit Flyer Foodie on Facebook or check out Prana & Pie.