Torta di Noci d’Aosta

Walnut-Filled Pastry from Aosta

This pastry could come only from a region famous for its walnuts and butter, the focal points of the recipe. Choose the freshest walnuts possible, even if you have to crack the shells by hand — it’s well worth the trouble.

This version is based on one I tasted at the Pasticceria Boch, in Aosta.

Ingredients

    Walnut Filling

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 cups walnuts, chopped

    Pasta Frolla

  • 12 tablespoons ( sticks) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Method

For the walnut filling, combine the sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and stir well to mix. Place over medium heat and allow to caramelize, stirring occasionally. When the sugar is a pale amber color, add the honey and butter. Bring to a boil and cook about 2 minutes, until thick bubbles form. Stir in the salt and walnuts. Cool the filling.

For the pasta frolla, beat the butter until soft and beat in the sugar in a stream. Continue beating until the mixture lightens. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until the mixture is very smooth and light. Beat in the flour until it is absorbed, without overmixing. Set the dough aside, covered.

To assemble the dessert, place half the dough in the bottom of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan that has been buttered and lined with wax paper or parchment. Press the dough with your fingertips evenly over the bottom of the pan and about 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Spread the cooled filling on the dough. Flour the remaining dough and press it into a 9- or 10-inch disk on a cardboard or tart pan bottom. Slide the dough over the filling and press it into place, making sure that the sides are straight and even. Seal the edges with the tines of a fork and pierce the top here and there with the fork.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool briefly in the pan, then unmold onto a rack to cool. Dust very lightly with the confectioners’ sugar.

Confectioners’ sugar for finishing

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