I love, love, love this one. It’s a fabulous dessert in any number of flavors, chocolate probably being my favorite but the nuts being close runners up. I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit to incorporate more hazelnuts in this version. Oddly enough, I was just about to post the recipe when I found out that it was this month’s Daring Bakers challenge and had to wait! Basically, it’s a rich pastry cream filling in a shortbread crust. If you haven’t tried it, you should– right now!
Hazelnut Torta della Nonna
based on (my favorite!) Italia in Cucina
Hazelnut Pastry Cream Filling:
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/8 t salt
1/4 t vanilla
3 T hazelnut flour
Whisk egg yolks and sugar until very pale– more of a cream color than a yellow– and then mix in the flour. Boil the milk, remove from heat, and temper the eggs by slowly pouring 1/4-1/2 cup of the hot milk into them while steadily whisking. Stir the tempered egg mixture into the milk and return to heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in the hazelnut flout and pour into a bowl to let cool.
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
1/4 t salt
confectioner’s sugar to dust
Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs. Add flour, hazelnuts, baking powder, and salt and mix thoroughly. Divide in half and roll into two rounds (your top and bottom crust). Put one in the pie plate, add pastry cream, and cover with the second round, pinching edges gently to seal. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Cool and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Share with friends–it’s so deliciously rich you couldn’t eat the whole thing yourself anyway 🙂
Recipe comments: It is very important to be vigilant in stirring the pastry cream, it can lump up very quickly. This recipe can stand alone as well as serving as filling; it’s very good plain.
You can use either ground hazelnuts or hazelnut flour (which is more finely ground) in both crust and filling, I prefer the finer grind in the pastry cream to preserve smoothness and the chunkier texture for the crust. But in a pinch they are interchangeable–I actually used all ground hazelnuts. If you can’t get ground hazelnuts, you can grind whole ones in a food processor yourself, or you can just switch flavors and use almonds which are also very tasty.
I always roll out my pie crusts between two layers of wax paper, it makes them easier to manipulate and position on the pie as well as ensuring that they don’t stick to the counter.
The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.
Mine was a little different than what most people did as I went for a two-crust pie, meaning that the recipe you see is different from the one in the challenge. However, the pasta frolla recipe given by Simona (check her blog) is very good and I recommend trying it also.