We wanted to do a quick post about one of our favorite go-to desserts – Gina De Palma’s Honey Pine-Nut Tart, featured in her 2007 book Dolce Italiano. This elegant and flavorful tart is sweet with honey, rich with eggs and butter, and maintains a pleasant texture, making it a perfect late winter treat. If you have access to local honey, use it here. (Try a basic search for “Orange County Local Honey” in Google, and you will discover a number of homegrown providers. Most Mother’s Markets also sell a selection locally produced honey, as do many small cheese shops, like Cellar Cheese Shop in Costa Mesa.) The subtle qualities of good honey do not get lost in this dessert, and will enable you to personalize to your taste. If you have a best-quality aged balsamic or vanilla gelato, either would make a lovely accompaniment here. We hope you try this tart, and enjoy is as we have… we’re sure it will become a favorite!
Honey and Pine Nut Tart Recipe and Directions
This tart is one of the most-requested desserts at Babbo, a Mario Batali NYC restaurant where Gina DePalma is the pastry chef. The filling is sweet and slightly salty, rich with butter and cream, aromatic with honey and pine nuts. We recommend mild honeys, such as acacia, orange blossom, eucalyptus, or millifiore (“a thousand flowers”); buckwheat and sage are also fine choices. The recipe may make just slightly more liquid custard than you need to fill the 10-inch tart shell; simply discard the extra custard rather than trying to overfill the shell. This tart begs for a scoop of vanilla gelato; if you really want to gild the lily, drizzle it with a spoonful of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena.
Makes one 10-inch tart, 8 servings
Sweet Tart Crust (Recipe Attached)
2/3 Cup Honey
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tsp. Kosher Salt
1 Cup Unsalted Butter (2 sticks)
½ Cup Heavy Cream
1 Large Egg
1 Large Egg Yolk
1 ¼ Cup Pine Nuts
- On a floured board, roll the tart dough into an 11-inch circle 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 10-inch tart pan with fluted sides and a removable bottom by rolling the dough around the pin like a carpet and then unrolling it onto the pan. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan, then trim it so it is flush with the top of the pan. Chill the tart shell while you make the filling.
- Preheat the oven to 325 F and position a rack in the center
- To make the custard: Place the honey, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and stir to combine them. Add the butter, place the saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often. Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl; allow it to cool for 20 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream, followed by the egg and egg yolk.
- Distribute the pine nuts evenly over the bottom of the tart shell and pour the custard into the shell until it reaches the top of the crust. Place the tart on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 30 – 55 minutes, or until both the crust and the filling have turned light golden brown and the custard is set but still jiggly. Allow the tart to cool completely on a rack before carefully removing the sides of the pan.
- Serve the tart while still slightly warm, or cool it and serve at room temperature. Wrapped in plastic, leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.