Recipes

salted peanut tart

My devotion to peanut butter and any and all of the ways we smash it up against chocolate would be impossible to question. From peanut butter cookies dotted with more peanut butter and chocolate chips, peanut butter-filled chocolate cookies, peanut butter and chocolate tarts, cakes, icebox and cheesecakes to peanut butter-swirled brownies, peanut butter blondies with chocolate chunks, it shouldn’t surprise you in the least that I also have a favorite Reese’s peanut butter cup shape (egg, as if there were ever a debate). However, my peanut devotion is neither limited to peanut butter or the proximity of chocolate, and so when we ended up at Houseman restaurant a couple weeks ago for dinner, we tried the salted peanut tart with sour cream for dessert and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since.


one minute latermake fork holesskip the weights and use foilpar-baked tart shell

It turns out it’s not just me. It’s “like pecan pie without all the goo” Pete Wells wrote in the New York Times. Tejal Rao described it as “a fine, low-to-the-ground number with a crisp pastry, plenty of actual peanuts, and very little of anything else” for Bloomberg. And Scott Lynch said “this gooey, crunchy, buttery beauty is like the peanut brittle of your dreams, and the whipped, fluffy dab of sour cream adds an unexpected and wholly welcome bit of tang to the party,” on Gothamist.

salted peanutsbrown your butter, of coursemake the sauceadd the peanutsready to bakebored at work, dreaming of tigers

Because my priorities are straight, it was the first thing I made when I got home. This isn’t officially it — I didn’t call the restaurant and beg for the recipe or anything. I prefer to recreate things the way I remember them, even imperfectly. I recalled a good toasty caramel (I use brown butter, dark brown sugar, and golden syrup or honey here) like a pecan pie would have, but much less goopy (a higher concentration of nuts in the filling does the trick); a thin, crisp cookie-like crust with a whiff of vanilla (here we make it quickly and press it in); and no matter how strange the dollop of sour cream to finish might sound (not sweetened, although you could if you wish) it is chocolate to the peanut butter here, harmonious and complementary in a way that no other toppings could come close. I hope you love this too.

salted peanut tart with sour cream

Previously

One year ago: Quick, Essential Stovetop Mac-and-Cheese
Two years ago: Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes and Pomegranate Grapefruit Paloma
Three years ago: Belgian Brownie Cakelets, Broccoli Melts, and White Russian
Four years ago: Perfect Corn Muffins and Spaghetti Pangrattato with Crispy Fried Eggs
Five years ago: Stuck-Pot Rice with Lentils and Yogurt and Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew and Morning Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel
Six years ago: Blood Orange Margaritas
Seven years ago: Double Coconut Muffins and Fried Egg Sandwich with Bacon and Blue Cheese
Eight years ago: Green Bean Salad with Pickled Red Onions and Fried Almonds and Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil
Nine years ago: Walnut Jam Cake, Ginger Fried Rice and Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with Mint Cream
Ten years ago: Whole Lemon Tart, Alex’s Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage and Toasted Coconut Shortbread
Eleven years ago: Pasta Puttanesca and Pear and Almond Tart
Twelve years ago: Fusilli with Baked Tomato Sauce and Aloo Gobi.

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Layered Mocha Cheesecake
1.5 Years Ago: Cheesecake Bars with All The Berries and Corn Chowder with Chile, Lime, and Cotija
2.5 Years Ago: Peach Melba Popsicles, Chile-Lime Melon Salad and Chocolate Peanut Butter Icebox Cake
3.5 Years Ago: Frozen Hot Chocolate and Angel Hair Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce
4.5 Years Ago: Blueberry Crumb Cake, Cold Noodles with Miso, Lime, and Ginger, Apricot Pistachio Squares and Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

Salted Peanut Tart

  • Servings: 8 to 10
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen, but inspired by Houseman Restaurant
  • Print

You could also make this tart as bars! Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with two pieces of parchment paper, each extending up two sides. Press the crust dough evenly across the bottom and 1/4-inch up the sides of this pan. Parbake at 350 (no weights or freezing required) for 15 minutes, until very pale golden. Continue with topping as written; topping baking time is the same as tart. Once cool, cut into 16 square bars.

    Crust
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 1/3 cup (40 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine, cut into a few chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Filling
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup (125 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup (110 grams) honey or golden syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (about 10 ounces or 285 grams) salted peanuts
  • Flaky sea salt and plain sour cream to finish (optional)

Heat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Make the crust: Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and vanilla to the bowl, then run the machine until the mixture forms large clumps — just keep running it; it might take another 30 seconds for it to come together, but it will. Set a marble or two of dough aside, and transfer the rest of it to a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom set on a large baking sheet (for drips and stability of use) and press the dough evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Transfer to freezer for 15 minutes, until solid.

Parbake crust: Once firm, prick all over with a fork. Coat a piece of foil with nonstick spray, and press it oiled-side-down tightly against the frozen crust, so it is fully molded to the shape. Bake tart with foil (no pie weights needed) for 15 minutes, then carefully, gently, a little at a time, peel back foil and discard. If cracks have formed, use the marbles of dough you set aside to patch it. Return to oven for 5 minutes, until just barely golden at edges and dry to the touch. Set aside.

Meanwhile, make filling: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and continue cooking it, stirring frequently, until it smells nutty and brown bits form at the bottom of the pot. Whisk in brown sugar and golden syrup or honey and cook at a simmer, whisking constantly, for one minute. Pour into a large bowl, scraping out all of the browned bits from the pot that you can, and place in the fridge or, as I did, on your very cold patio, for (updated to suggest less time as per comment responses) a few minutes, until it has cooled somewhat. Whisk in apple cider vinegar (with cuts the sweetness and adds complexity, not a vinegary flavor, promise), vanilla, and eggs, one at a time, then stir in peanuts.

Bake tart: Pour filling into prepared tart shell, top with a little flaky salt, if you wish, and bake for 23 to 28 minutes, until just faintly jiggly in the center and golden brown all over. Cool on a rack to room temperature, or, like me, you can rush this along in the fridge, but don’t let it fully chill.

Serve: Decorate (if you wish) with powdered sugar. Serve in wedges at room temperature (not cold, which can be too firm) with a dollop of sour cream.

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76 comments on salted peanut tart

  1. Sally

    You’re killing me! Trying to figure out when to make this. One of my favorite cakes of all time is your peanut butter chocolate cake

  2. Maureen LaFerney

    In case anyone else is curious, the Gothamist-reviewer Scott Lynch is not the same person as the fantasy novelist Scott Lynch!

  3. Any issues replacing peanuts with another tree nut, such as pecans, walnuts, or almonds? This looks awesome but I’m thinking I’d use whatever tree nuts I happen to have on hand… Thanks Deb!

      1. Bridgit Cook

        My friend used to make something similar with mixed nuts, so i imagine cashews would be lovely. (It was the only way I could really enjoy a brazil nut.)

    1. Jane

      This is similar to a German pastry called Nussknacker (nutcracker). They are individual little round tarts, but usually toasted whole hazelnuts are used. I love the chewy caramell and can’t wait to try this version! Oh, and the Nussknacker’s bottom is dipped in dark chocolate sometimes 😉

      1. Jane

        Aaaand here to report back – tried it, so easy it’s not even funny, had my 5 y o help with great success, tastes really sophisticated, too.
        One thing I changed after reading comments of caramel harding too quickly: I stirred everything else in almost right after I took the caramel off the heat, but started with the vinegar, vanilla and peanuts, which together managed to cool the caramel down enough so I could add the (pre-whisked but don’t think it’s necessary) eggs at the end without any scrambled eggs issues.
        Fantastic dessert!

  4. Amy

    This looks fabulous! Wondering how long it will keep at room temp? Or does it have to be stored in the fridge and then served room temp? Thank you!

  5. Nawana

    Deb, I have to wholeheartedly disagree with you on the best Reese formation. It is the Reester bunnies that only come out at Easter. Although I’m in Canada and our chocolate tastes different *coughcough*better*coughcough* than the US version, so that could definitely be a deciding factor.

    This looks amazing!

  6. Sheena

    Thoughts on making this in a chocolate crust? Maybe press in a wafer cookie dough or add cocoa to the dry ingredients here? I plan to make it as written at least once, but I can’t resist thinking about future iterations and wondering how you’d approach it. :-)

  7. Rachel

    Thanks for the bar option! If you make it as bars do you still set aside the marbles of dough and use the foil on top while baking (as you described with the tart pan)?

  8. Bridgit Cook

    Deb, you are the caramel of my life; thank you. I’m pondering the idea of maple syrup here, since it is almost that season and we *might* have a quart leftover, but I’m leaning no… I guess I’ll have to make your maple nutmeg tart AND this. My family will be so sad…

    1. April

      Mine also is clumpy…trying to do a double boiler right not to salvage this. I even left it to cool half the recommended time.

      1. june

        I let my sugar mixture sit out too long as well and it hardened like taffy but was able to salvage it by re-warming in the microwave for 15 seconds, the eggs mixed in fine after. I think I cooked the sugar too long – it should just be enough to melt the sugar but not make a caramel. I also forgot to grease the parchment (oh – it was supposed to be foil) and some dough got stuck – it still all worked out at the end, the tart was great – next time i will chop the particularly large peanuts I had since it made cutting the tart impossible without making a mess of the center. Very good. I think cashews would be great since its slightly more tender than peanuts.

  9. Emme

    This, this, this!
    I always want peanut butter cups to be a little more peanut butter and salty, then I found the eggs, then I realized I just want salted peanuts, and it’s better friend, caramel.
    This will be a weekend thing.
    Thank you!!

  10. This was really excellent! With a nice stickiness suggesting a candy bar, and yet somehow not too sweet.

    The only minor bump was that the butter/sugar/syrup mixture got very stiff as it cooled, and so it was difficult to get the eggs to fully mix in with a whisk. I ended up blitzing it all together with an immersion blender before adding the nuts.

    Seems like a great template for experimentation with other nuts….cashews, pine, lug…

  11. Jane2

    Deb, since this thread is relatively short–next time you get your website person to work on things can we get a “skip to last reply” button? Some of your threads get so long! And if it’s a recipe I use I like to check for updates. (This one is tempting me!) I read you on a tablet.

  12. JP

    This looks mighty tasty! I just wanted to point out that the latest Cook’s Illustrated magazine has a new recipe for lemon tart that uses olive oil (no butter). In the crust, that is made up like yours, quickly and pressed into the pan, they use extra virgin olive oil. What would you think if you made your crust that way with peanut oil? I made this lemon tart the other night and it was the easiest lemon tart ever and the crust was excellent. I bet using peanut oil, instead of butter in the crust would give yours even more peanut ommph! I just wanted to let you know that between you and Cook’s, I have my cooking and baking covered. Many thanks!

    1. deb

      Sounds delicious! I don’t think that peanut oil contributes any peanut flavor, however. I use it for deep frying because it has a very clean, neutral taste at high temperatures.

      1. RobynB

        I suspect she means unrefined roasted peanut oil (I buy Spectrum or La Tourangelle brand) which definitely smells and tastes of roasted peanuts. Totally different than the stuff for frying.

        1. Eeka

          I have a jar of peanutty oil in my fridge that is the oil I’ve poured off of the top of jars of natural peanutbutter – there’s always too much.

  13. Emily

    We just got a tart pan a few months ago and this is by far the most successful tart I’ve made. Crust came out perfectly. My only issue was the peanuts I used were pretty big and I should have chopped them up a bit. We didn’t have sour cream in the house so I just made unsweetened whipped cream with a little vanilla and it was great. Thank you!!

  14. Beth

    Made this today in bar format. I had the same issue with the caramel mixture hardening up as it cooled. It was nearly impossible to whisk anything in! I ended up taking my hand mixer to it, but even that didn’t get the eggs fully incorporated. I still went with it, hoping it would work itself out in the oven. I’m happy to report it still tastes pretty darn good! But I would consider elaborating on the filling cooling time in the recipe. At least for those like me who don’t have a lot of experience with caramel-type recipes!

    1. JP

      These clumping issues makes me wonder if it might be better just to let it cool on the counter, like closer to room temp and not in the fridge at all? Seems like it would be easier to eyeball when it was cool enough that way.

      1. Beth

        I had mine out on the counter… but I let it cool for probably closer to 20-30 minutes while we went for a walk around the block. I also wondered if I cooked it down too much before cooling?

        1. Sarah Bernbach

          Definitely cooked too much.
          The cooling is not the issue if your caramel is hardening.
          The mixture was cooked to a too-high temperature and concentration. Rate of cooling won’t affect that either way.

  15. Lauren

    Never saw the appeal of peanuts and chocolate ( each separately- yes! together- no!) so this “PAYDAY” in tart form had me from”peanuts” and “caramel” making out my grocery list. I am going to try the less “salty” salted nuts ( sodium issues) and see what happens. Has anyone else thought of this or tried it yet? Should work, right? Cashews will be next- so any “cashew experimenters” please report in.

  16. Jane2

    Although I love peanut butter cups I didn’t like the whole peanuts in this (TJ salted roasted). The crust came out fine. I let the caramel cool only until I was sure the eggs wouldn’t cook and added the vanilla last. Poured easily.

  17. April

    Just made it and it turned out rather well I think. I would definitely recommend golden syrup rather than honey, and the addition of the browned butter added just the perfect amount of nutty flavor. Once again, I love the recipes you come up with Deb. I’d love to add a pic of mine but alas, I can’t do that here so you’ll just have to take my word that it turned out looking nearly identical to yours!

  18. spinalfusion

    I just made this in bar form and it’s cooling on my counter right now. From an ingredients perspective, the only change I made was to use turbinado sugar because I discovered too late the only brown sugar in my house is muscavado, which I thought would overpower the honey. I didn’t have any issues with the filling seizing up. My process was to prep the ingredients ahead of time – everything was at room temperature or close to it. After browning the butter, I pulled the pot off the heat to add the sugar and honey, then put back on the heat and stirred vigorously for just over a minute (I watched a timer). I also let it cool for ten minutes on the counter instead of putting it in the fridge, and stirred it frequently to help dissipate the heat.

  19. jennycolvin

    I made the bar version of this tonight and replaced half the flour with peanut flour (just because I had it, it didn’t make much difference in bar form but might have made a tart crust less firm.) Thanks for posting this one because I had all ingredients on hand, unlike all the other recipes I was procrastinating on because of 1-2 missing ingredients! I liked it with the sour cream too, which I found surprising.

  20. Tan

    This was such a great tart! I read the tips here, which helped. I too, took the browned butter off the heat, and stirred in the honey and brown sugar for just one minute. I then let it cool to room temp on the counter (about 10 minutes) so that the mixture did not harden. I chopped the peanuts up a bit. It was perfect in the end and overall a pretty easy recipe! :)

  21. Claire

    Long time reader and recipe lover and first time commenter. This time last year my Dad left us before his time, and he would have loved this tart. I’m going to make it in tribute to him. Thank you so much Deb for being a part of our lives.

  22. Caroline

    This was really really good, my husband loved it!! I did set it out on my porch for 10 mins and it stiffened slightly, but once I started mixing it was fine! My kids shelled all the peanuts for it so they really earned their dessert! I will defiantly make this again!!

  23. betsy

    Random, I know. But. I just love seeing “Twelve years ago: Fusilli with Baked Tomato Sauce and Aloo Gobi.” Congratulations! I’ve enjoyed all your hard work, great photos and fun writing – oh, and the food, too.

    Cheers!

  24. Heather

    Hi Deb! This looks excellent! I would love to incorporate some jelly/jam into this to make it a crunchy pb&j type tart. Would you recommend jam on the bottom later, chilling to set, and then adding the caramel filling and baking? Do you think the jam can survive that much time in the oven under the peanut caramel without oozing or mixing too much with the caramel? Thanks!

  25. Jenne

    I enjoyed this more on day two and three, than straight after it was made (though awesome on all days!). The filling seemed to relax and get a bit more goo overnight.
    I loved the pastry base, so quick and easy and no rolling!
    I used maple syrup as I didn’t have anything else to hand and it worked perfectly.

  26. Alana

    Oh this is delicious! It’s a bit messy to eat in bar format but that’s the only downside. I followed the suggestions in the comments about the caramel and cooked it for a minute exactly. Turned out perfectly!

  27. Brittany

    Wow the sour cream on this is amazing! And also, just fyi Deb, my husband has started calling you “that wonderful lady.” This recipe is just another reason I couldn’t agree more.

  28. Julie

    I enjoy this much more than pecan pie (and way cheaper too). My sugar/syrup/butter mixture got too cold and it was hard to mix; part of it had recrystallized on the bottom of the bowl and didn’t make it into the tart. So make sure you don’t let that happen (I’m just going to leave it on the counter next time). I actually like this tart better straight from the fridge! (And I don’t like the sour cream with it, but my husband does.) Thanks, Deb!

  29. Molly

    Absolutely divine! I just let the caramel cool on the counter for 10 minutes and everything incorporated well without the eggs getting scrambled at all. I love a pat-in-the-pan crust, and this one is heaven – so tender and delicious. The sour cream to serve really put it over the top. Thanks for another wonderful recipe, Deb!!

  30. I had the issue with the caramel mixture hardening up as it cooled. It was nearly impossible to whisk anything in! I ended up taking my hand mixer to it, but even that didn’t get the eggs fully incorporated. I still went with it, hoping it would work itself out in the oven.

  31. Kate

    Thoughts on using plain yogurt instead of sour cream? Am I going to be missing the part that really sets it off?

    If I have both honey and golden syrup do you prefer one over the other?

    1. deb

      I personally prefer golden syrup because the flavor is more neutral but also it tastes like toasted sugar, which is perfect here. You could use yogurt; it’s less rich and smooth but the contrast is similar.

  32. kimstebbins1

    I made this the day you published and everyone loved it. I only had 8” and 10” tart pans—what dilemma! I settled on the 10”, and in my opinion, the filling was a little thin because of it, so next time will do the 8 (or buy another tart pan!). I sprinkled the top with flakey salt (a good thing because I accidentally bought “lightly salted” peanuts), and I served with sour cream. Nobody else thought it was too thin or under salty, so in spite of my errors, this tart is a keeper! Thank you for sharing it!

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