Food indulgence comes in many forms, but Hazelnut Tart With Fresh Strawberries is as fresh and light as it is delicious. The crust is made from a French-style hazelnut meringue, or dacquoise, normally seen as a layer in fancy french pastries and cakes. Here the subtle chew, airy lightness, and nutty praline flavor of hazelnut meringue provides contrast and support to the sweet juicy berries. The resulting tart is exquisite. Don't be intimidated: this dessert is surprisingly foolproof. The only unique ingredient is hazelnut flour. Buy the freshest you can find (we use Bob's Red Mill) You can grind your own from fresh roasted hazelnuts...but be very careful not to make hazelnut butter in the process (this happens from over processing the nuts).
Yield: one 9" inch tart, serves 6-8
- 3/4 cup hazelnut flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cake flour (can use all purpose)
- 3 egg whites
- pinch (about 1/16 teaspoon) cream of tarter
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, left whole
- 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, pureed
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 275.
- Combine egg whites and cream of tarter, and whip until medium peaks form (see photo). The easiest way to do this is with the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, on high for 2-3 minutes. You can also use a hand held mixer, or a hand cranked egg beater.
- Add sugar to the egg whites and beat for one additional minute. The whites should begin to become shiny and stiff.
- Gently fold the hazelnut flour and cake flour into the whites. You want it to be thoroughly combined, while handling the mixture as little as possible.
- Grease a 9" tart pan, dump in the egg white mixture and spread evenly with a spatula.
- Bake the tart at 275 for 90 minutes. It will be lightly browned, and relatively hard to the touch (see photo). Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- Put the pureed strawberries in a pot, add sugar and cornstarch, and over medium heat bring to a boil. Let the strawberry puree boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. This helps to thicken the puree. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Pour strawberry puree over fresh strawberries and mix.
- Immediately prior to serving, spoon strawberry mixture over hazelnut crust, garnish with mint, and serve. This dessert is best served immediately after topping with strawberries. If you want to make it ahead, keep the components separate until you are ready to serve.