This Caramel Custard Tart with Sliced Almonds and Pumpkin Seeds is so completely decadent and rich. It can also be quite the showstopper with its deep caramel color and the toasted nuts and seeds. I used toasted and salted pumpkin seeds in this tart to compliment the sweet caramel, which turned out to be a great choice.
Both almonds and pumpkin seeds are considered super nutritious, so this tart is practically health food, right? I could also imagine salted roasted peanuts. Toasted pecans would be pretty awesome too.
Time to try making “real” caramel with just sugar and a bit of water brought to a boil and allowed to reach the perfect caramel color before adding heavy cream. If you don’t cook it long enough, you end up with sugar syrup, and if you cook it too long, you can burn it and will have to start over. I actually use a timer and stand at my stove constantly staring at the boiling mixture until I’m pretty sure it’s ready. I’m a little obsessive.
Did you know that melting sugar in the pan without adding any water will also produce caramel? If you heat dry sugar over medium high head in a pan, it will liquefy and eventually caramelize. You just have to be more careful about maintaining a level temperature at the bottom of the pan to prevent burning in spots. In this case, I used just three tablespoons of water to get the sugar started and even out the temperature, and it worked really well for me.
Handy caramel making tips:
- Swirl, don’t stir. While the sugar is boiling, do not stir it. Instead, if you see it cooking unevenly, swirl the pan to spread the sugar around and even out the heat. This helps prevent crystallization.
- Use a heavy duty light colored pan so you can watch the color change. Once it begins to change, it happens pretty quickly, and there’s a fine line between amber and burned.
- After stirring in the cream, don’t even think about licking the spoon even though the mixture looks creamy and delicious. It’s freaking hot! While you’re at it, wear glasses and long sleeves.
Once you have your caramel and add the nuts and seeds, it’s time to turn it into a custard for the tart by adding eggs. Just be sure to allow the caramel mixture to cool enough (at least 10 minutes) so that you don’t have caramel scrambled eggs.
The tart can be kept at room temperature for about a day. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers… if you have any!
Caramel Custard Tart with Sliced Almonds and Pumpkin Seeds
1 1/4 cups (180 g) unbleached all purpose flour
2 T (25 g) sugar
1/4 tsp salt
7 T (100 g) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
2 T ice water
Caramel Custard Filling
3 T water
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 cup (227 ml) lukewarm heavy whipping cream
80 g sliced almonds, lightly toasted (I toasted mine in the toaster oven on a baking sheet)
60 g pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted (I purchased roasted and salted pumpkin seeds/pepitas)
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg plus one egg yolk, lightly beaten
- Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt together in the bowl of a food processor
- Add the butter, and pulse a few times, until it is crumbly.
- Whisk the egg yolk and water together and add to the food processor slowly while pulsing the mixture.
- Remove the dough from the food processor and press it together with your hands to form a cohesive ball. If the dough is too dry, add 1/2 tsp more of water.
- Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Roll the dough out to a 1/8 inch thick round, and press it into a nine inch tart pan (one with a removable bottom). Press any excess dough down into the crust to reinforce it. Refrigerate the shaped crust for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork several times, place the tart pan on a baking sheet, and bake it for about 20 minutes, until golden. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
- Add the water to a 3 to 3 1/2 quart heavy saucepan. Add the sugar. Cook over medium heat, bringing it to a boil. If you need to, use a wet pastry brush to brush the sides of the pan to dissolve any crystals. Cook without stirring until it turns a deep amber, for six to eight minutes. Gently shake the pan to swirl the mixture to make sure it cooks evenly, especially if you notice any dark spots.
- Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the heated cream, stirring constantly until smooth. The mixture will bubble up quite a bit.
- Place the pan back on the medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, almonds, and pumpkin seeds. Let cool for 10 minutes, stirring periodically to cool.
- Slowly add in the egg mixture, stirring until fully incorporated. Pour the mixture into the tart shell and bake for about 20 minutes, until the center is just set.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.