Your Thanksgiving table will thank you for this. Each year, we gather to share in the bounty of the season and no matter how delicious the savory spread is, from customary turkey to rainbow of side dishes, I always look forward to dessert. There are no fewer than four pies on the table, all homemade and no one alike from crust to filling. My mother would have it no other way and boy does it make the holiday complete. From the stages of preparation that materialize on the counter days in advance with currents of bakery smells flowing through the house, entry of self control-challenged persons is ill advised, as is wandering around on an empty stomach.
With the luxury of step-by-step video instruction from Michael’s Genuine® Pastry Chef MJ Garcia, I had the confidence to ask for the recipe to attempt her stunning Rosemary Pine Nut Tart at home and add another notch in my apron sash. What are you thinking about making this Thanksgiving?
Rosemary 🌲 🌰 Tart
Invoking taste memory adds depth not only in meaning and enjoyment of a dish, but layers of flavor, too. Here Michael’s Genuine pastry chef MJ Garcia conjures Queimada, an ancient Galician ceremony from the mountains where a traditional spirited drink of orange-infused aguardiente called Orujo Gallego is passed around. With its use of a specialty ingredient like pine nuts and decorative garnish in powdered sugar-dusted rosemary sprig, this festive dessert transports even the diehard Miami snowbird to a forest of towering furs on a snowy December evening, plumes of chimney smoke rising in the distance.
Makes one tart
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
2 egg yolks
1 cup brandy
Peel of 1 orange, such as navel
3 sprigs rosemary
1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs
1 1/8 cups corn syrup
2 cups honey
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups pine nuts
Begin with the pastry dough or “pate sucree”. In a large stainless steel bowl sift or whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter, pinching to rub into the dry ingredients just until the size of small peas. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Add 1/3 cup cold water and the yolk, mixing with your hands until it barely comes together and doesn’t develop too much gluten. Divide in half and wrap each pound of dough tightly in plastic. You’ll use one for the tart and must refrigerate for at least 1 hour prior to using. Stow the other in the freezer and thaw in the refrigerator the day before baking for a December gathering.
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Prepare the brandy syrup by placing a large sauté pan with brandy, orange peel and rosemary over medium high heat. Once bubbles begin to form, carefully flambé by tilting the pan toward the gas range until the fumes ignite the liquid. For electric or induction, use a long lighter or match and touch the edge of the pan to spread the flame. Simmer until syrup is reduced by half and set aside to cool.
Roll out one tart crust on a cool, floured surface until a scant 1/4 inch thin. Gently fold in quarters to more easily transfer to a greased 12 inch tart pan. Work with your palms to mold the pie crust to the inside edge of the pan while using your fingers to press the crust to the edge evenly. Clean the edges of overhanging dough. Line the pie crust with parchment paper a few extra inches larger than your tart tin and fill with weights such as dry beans. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and blanche in the oven for 10 minutes, remove the weights by pouching the edges of the parchment, and set aside. The crust shouldn’t take on any color at this point, as it will finish baking with the filling. Raise the oven temperature to 325°F.
For the filling, whisk the remainder of the ingredients in a large stainless steel bowl with the syrup, adding the pine nuts last and mixing until fully incorporated. Pour the mixture into the tart crust lined tin and return to the oven being careful not to spill as it will burn on the baking sheet. Bake for 22 minutes or until pine nuts develop a deep golden brown. Cool on a rack before slicing.
Slice and serve with crème fraîche whipped cream, a spring of fried rosemary dusted with powdered sugar and a wine-poached pear half, although a dollop of quality orange marmalade would do quite nicely, too.