Macadamia nut tart
Midwinter heralds the best of Australian oranges. They bring a lovely cheer to the drab, grey days. And for many, this certainly is a winter of discontent.
Not only does Australia produce fantastic oranges – perfect as a healthy snack, as an accompaniment to duck and pork or as an addition to the pastry kitchen – but it is also home to the wonderful macadamia nut.
Often heralded as the most expensive nuts in the world, to me they are one of the most interesting. Their rich buttery texture is a result of their very high proportion of fat. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the fat content is mainly made up of monounsaturated fat, which is considered the healthy fat. With eating trends moving towards more ketogenic-style diets, the macadamia is a wonderful snack.
The other random fact I find fascinating about the nut is its shell. The outer shell of the macadamia is five times stronger than a hazelnut shell, which results in it being more expensive to process than most other nuts. Clever machines have been designed to saw open the shell of the nut once it has been dried a little. Drying reduces the moisture and therefore the size of the nut, pulling it away from the hard outer casing, then a saw can be carefully used to circumnavigate the shell and remove the nut.
Food production can be a fascinating beast when you pause for a moment and think about what went into that bag of nuts you just bought.
This tart requires you to blind-bake the pastry. Blind-baking is something I get asked about a lot. I find the most foolproof way to succeed with blind-baking is to use lots of baking beans. I have a bucket in the kitchen that is filled with an odd mix of dried lentils, chickpeas and rice. I always line my pastry cases with generous amounts of the “beans”, filling the whole case. This prevents the pastry from shrinking down the sides of the tin. Remove the beans near the end of cooking and put the nearly baked tart back in the oven for a few more minutes.
Two little notes to finish. This recipe had its origins in my apprentice days with the lovely Stephanie Alexander. And a cautionary note: macadamias are toxic to dogs, so never be tempted to give Fido a little scrap from the table.
Macadamia nut tart
– 100g butter, chopped into small cubes
– 200g plain flour
– pinch of salt
– 100g castor sugar
– 2 tsp orange zest
– juice 1 orange
– 6 eggs
– 150g castor sugar
– 60g butter
– 300g liquid glucose
– 1 tsp orange zest
– 400g raw (unsalted) macadamia nuts
In a food processor or stand blender using the paddle, combine the butter, flour, salt, castor sugar and orange zest. Work until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, then add the orange juice and mix until it comes together. Remove from the bowl, flatten into a disc, wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface until about three millimetres thick. Line a 24-centimetre loose-bottom flan tin with the pastry, making sure there is a small lip at the top. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Line the pastry in the tin with a generous amount of baking paper and fill with blind-baking beans. Place the tin in the centre of the oven on a tray and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove the blind-baking beans carefully and return the tin to the oven for at least another five minutes until you see that the pastry is golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Remove from the oven.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the castor sugar. In a saucepan, gently melt the butter and whisk in the glucose. Cool a little. Pour the butter mixture onto the egg mixture and whisk to combine, then add the orange zest.
Place the macadamias into the pre-baked pastry case and pour over the syrup mixture. Place on a tray and bake in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes or until firm and set. Remove from the oven, cool and remove from the tin, carefully, while still warm. This will help if any syrup has escaped over the edge and stuck to the tin.
Serve with cream and a little segmented orange salad made from the leftover orange.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 18, 2020 as "Tart for tart’s sake".
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