Salted Caramel Tart with Pine Nuts, Lavender and Black Pepper

A few weeks ago we had a party to celebrate the baptism of our new baby girl and our niece. I had this idea for a caramel tart with pine nuts, so I searched the Internet and my Italian cookbooks for a recipe. Couldn’t find one. So, after some tinkering, I came up with my own recipe.

1.5 cups flour
1.5 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

1 cup medium brown sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
2 eggs
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh lavender
1/3 cup pine nuts

1. Cut cold butter into combined dry ingredients, until it has a coarse cornmeal texture. Sprinkle in ice water (1-2 tbsp.), keeping as dry as possible while still being able to form dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 mins.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out chilled dough, working quickly, to a thickness and size that will fit and transfer into your 9″ tart pan. Carefully press the dough into the recesses of the pan, avoiding overhandling the dough while repairing any cracks or uneven areas. Prick bottom with fork. Chill for 20 minutes. (You can get started on 4.)

3. Line pie shell with foil and fill with pie weights (or dry beans — they’re reusable and you can even cook them later) and bake for 15 minutes. Remove weights and foil and bake an additional 5 minutes. Remove and cool.

4. Prepare the filling by melting together the sugar, butter, salt, pepper and lavender in a wide saucepan or skillet on medium heat. Once it has fully melted, cook until it is uniform in texture with no granulation, and remove from heat and and allow to cool. Whisk eggs in a bowl and incorporate into the cooled caramel mixture, adding the vanilla extract.

5. Fill the bottom of the tart shell with a single layer of pine nuts. Pour the caramel filling over the nuts and bake the tart for 20-25 minutes. Cool before serving.


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