Pine nuts are eaten all over the world, and have been since the beginning of time. Pine nuts, also known as pinons or pignolis, depending on where you are, are the seeds that come from pine trees. Though they are called nuts, and have all the same nutritional benefits as nuts, and are known as the smallest and fanciest nuts in the world, they are actually seeds. They come from specific kinds of pine trees that do not grow densely together. They like to spread out more and are usually from dryer, more arid, desert-like regions of the world. Russia is the largest producer of pine nuts in the world, followed by Mongolia, Afghanistan, China and Korea. China is the largest importer of pine nuts.
Pine nuts have a lightly sweet and subtle flavor than lends itself to many different dishes from around the world. In china, pine nuts are often used for sweets and desserts. In Greece and Italy, they are used in many dishes, and are often found as ingredients used to stuff grape leaves. They are eaten in a wide variety of dishes and recipes found in Native American and Southwestern dishes too. It is common to pair pine nuts and honey together, since they were frequently stored and preserved in honey. They are toasted or roasted a lot too, which really enhances their nutty flavor. Even though they are very expensive, I love them. I would eat them a lot more frequently too if they weren’t so cost prohibitive. But I do still eat them quite a bit, regardless of cost, much to Larry’s dismay.
When we got together with Priscilla and Jonathon for our Southwestern Burger night, one of the things I brought was a honey and pine nut tart. Roasted Pepper and Mushroom Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette It was a huge hit, as I knew it would be. It is sweet, but not overly sweet, and it’s pure simplicity just hits the spot. This is a traditional Italian dessert too, known as Crostata di Miele e Pignoli in Italian.
Honey and Pine Nut Tart
I make a basic Pate Sucre, or sugared dough.
1 1/2 cups flour
6 TBSP cold butter, cubed
a dash of salt
2-3 TBSP powdered sugar
5-6 TBSP heavy whipping cream
Mix the butter, flour, salt and powdered sugar together in a food processor until it is crumbly and looks like fine sand. Then add the egg and cream and continue to process until it forms into a soft dough ball. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and let set in the refrigerator for at last 30 minutes before using. It is the same process as my basic dough, only I add the powdered sugar to the mix as well.
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups pine nuts
Combine the sugar, honey and butter together in a sauce pan.
Cook until the butter is completely melted and everything is well combined. Bring to a boil, and let boil for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, then turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 325* F or about 140-145* C.
When the dough is ready to use, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch in thickness and place it into a 10″ tart pan. Firmly press the dough into the pan. Evenly spread the pine nuts around the dough.
Whisk the egg, egg yolk and cream together, then slowly add the sugar and honey mixture and combine thoroughly.
Carefully pour the mixture over the pine nuts and place in the oven.
Bake anywhere from 30-55 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the filling has set. If the crust starts to brown to much, cover with foil and continue to bake until it is set. Allow the tart to cool completely before cutting. You can enjoy the tart as is, but the best way to enjoy it is with some ice cream on top.
Jonathon made his own ice cream, and his ice cream maker is the most unique ice cream maker I have ever seen. It looks like a soccer ball, and that is exactly what you do to make the ice cream. You kick the “ball” around or throw it around until the ice cream is churned and thickens. What a cool idea. You get to work off your calories before you even eat them. I love it.
The boys are “making” ice cream.
Once the ice cream was done, it was time to serve it over the tart. Delicious! It was enjoyed by all.
Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.