I’m kind of a nut freak. No, not those kind of nuts. Tree nuts. I’m crazy about baklava and pignoli cookies. I love all the nut ice creams first and foremost (though, admittedly, this may have something to do with the ingredients with which nuts are usually paired, like butter, maple, and, er, grapes).
Lately, for a snack, I’ve taken to toasting walnuts in a dry pan, tossing them until fragrant and just thinking about browning, then removing them to a bowl, coiling thick ropes of honey over them, and raining the whole sticky thing with fleur de sel. Lordy. I was trying to think of a good way to present this potentially show-stopping dessert other than “Nuts in a Bowl.” Perhaps nuts encased in buttery pastry. Like pecan pie, but less goo, or little pecan tassies, but with walnuts and honey.
So, I started tinkering with a Canadian butter tart recipe. You know, in the spirit of the Olympics and all. Not that I’ve ever had a Canadian butter tart, mind you. Maybe I should actually try a Canadian butter tart before I go fucking around with the recipe, but it just seemed like a few teeny-tiny substitutions would get me exactly what I was craving. Changes like switching raisins to walnuts, corn syrup to honey, brown sugar to white (so that the molasses character wouldn’t compete with the honey’s floral undertones), losing the vanilla, and sprinkling with sea salt. The butter in the butter tarts remained as written.
The results were on the right track, but not quite the medal contenders I had hoped for. They ended up kind of greasy, truth be told. Whatever tenuous emulsion I had established between the butter, sugar, and honey wasn’t enough to keep the butter from leaching out under high heat conditions, soaking the muffin papers, and pooling in slick puddles at the bottoms of the muffin cups. Mmmmm. However, like baklava, they do seem to improve with age, and I’m having trouble keeping my hands off of them today, I must say.
I’ll perfect these eventually, but until then, I suggest you stick to the original Canadian butter tart recipe. Or, you know, just nuts in a bowl.