walnut tartlets

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Walnut Tartlets
Adapted from Bon Appetit, May 1999

Unfortunately, the cure to the bubbling-over drama is not to fill the shells less (I went about 90 percent full, myself) as the filling shrinks back down and you don’t want a half-empty shell. That said, if you can deal with a little mess, you’ll be duly rewarded with an inordinate amount of deliciousness.

Serves 6

1 recipe Great Unshrinkable Sweet Tart Shell, unbaked
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon whole aniseed (we liked this level, but use 1/4 teaspoon if you’re anise-phobic)
1 3/4 cups walnuts, toasted, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 370°F. Cut pastry dough into six pieces, and roll out each one to a 6-inch circle. Transfer to a lightly-buttered 4 1/2-inch-diameter tartlet pan with removable bottom. Press crust onto bottom and up sides of pan; trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in and press, forming double-thick sides. Repeat with remaining dough disks and 5 more pans and prick them all over with a fork.

Freeze crusts for 30 minutes. Lightly butter six pieces of foil and press them tightly against frozen tart shells. Bake crusts for 10 minutes before taking them out, carefully removing the foil, pressing down any pastry that has bubbled up gently with the back of a spoon and baking them for an additional 7 minutes, or until lightly golden at the edges. [More detailed instructions in this post.] Take them out of the oven and let them cool. Increase oven temperature to 400°F.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Stir cream and next 5 ingredients in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil until mixture bubbles thickly and color darkens slightly, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in walnuts then salt.

Place crusts on baking sheet lined with foil. Divide filling among crusts. (I had a bit extra. Can we say “best ice cream topping, ever”?) Bake tartlets until filling bubbles thickly and crusts are golden, about 25 minutes. Cool tartlets in pans on rack 5 minutes. Remove pan sides while tartlets are still warm. (Hm, I ignored this and found them easier to remove when they were fully cool, but I’ll let you decide.)

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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