Nut Picnic Tarts
- Yield: Makes twelve 4-inch tarts
- All-purpose flour, for work surface
- Sweet Pastry Dough
- 3/4 cup (3 ounces) hulled pumpkin seeds
- 3/4 cup whole unblanched almonds (3 ounces)
- 3/4 cup whole unsalted macadamia nuts (3 ounces)
- 3/4 cup blanched hazelnuts (3 ounces)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place twelve 4-inch tart pans with removeable bottoms on a baking sheet. Set aside.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out twelve 6-inch circles of dough with a sharp paring knife, using an overturned 6-inch bowl as a guide, if necessary. Press dough into tart pans; trim excess. Dock tart shells by piercing the bottom all over with a fork. Chill in refrigerator until ready to fill; set aside.
Spread pumpkin seeds on a rimmed baking sheet; toast, shaking pan halfway through, until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Spread nuts in separate rows on another rimmed baking sheet; toast, shaking pan until halfway through, until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Let seeds and nuts stand until cool.
Rough chop macadamia nuts. Combine nuts in a medium bowl; set aside. In a different medium bowl, combine heavy cream and salt; set aside.
Melt butter in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Using a sharp paring knife, split vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape out pulp and seeds; add scrapings and pod to melted butter. Swirl pan so butter does not burn; butter will bubble as it brown. Continue cooking until bubbles subside and butter is dark brown and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove vanilla bean; pour butter over cream mixture, whisking to combine.
In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine water, sugar, and corn syrup; bring to a boil without stirring. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash down the sides of the pan, dissolving any sugar granules. Allow caramel to cook, swirling pan to ensure even coloring, until it reaches 268 degrees on a candy thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and immediately stir in seeds, nuts, and cream mixture; mixture may spatter. Return pan to heat; simmer on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until mixture registers 210 degrees and is a pale caramel color, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat; pour into a heatproof bowl and cool until barely warm, 15 to 20 minutes.
Fill each tart shell with caramel mixture. Place tarts on a rimmed baking sheet, spaced 1/2-inch apart. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until crust is nicely browned, about 25 minutes.