Nutmeg-Maple Cream Tart

I want to share with you a story lest you have any misconceptions about my innate cooking abilities.

This tart is not a complicated recipe but it does require par-baking the crust. (In case you, like me until two days ago, don't know par-bake stands for partially bake. Crazy, I know!). First you bake the crust (at 375) and then make the filling. Then you have to reduce the temperature of the oven to 300, fill the crust and bake for about 1 hour.

I was going along fine until I got to the lowering of the oven temperature, which I completely forgot. I remember even noting the temperature change when I first looked at the recipe as a potential risk. But I missed it anyway and so my tart was a little brown and the crust was a little hard (okay, maybe a lot hard, but not break your teeth hard).

The miracle though was that despite cooking the tart at 75 degrees hotter than I was supposed, it was still delicious, a little crispy but it tasted great. I can only imagine how could it would be if you actually followed the directions correctly!

Aside from the temperature confusion, this recipe was great.  Maple syrup is one of the best things ever.  When I was little and it snowed, we used to go out and get piles of clean snow while Mom would boil some maple syrup and then we would pour the maple syrup on the snow and it would cool and make maple syrup candy.

There is one important thing to remember when you're making any kind of custard.  Mostly you heat up milk/cream and some flavor and then combine with eggs to thicken.  But if you pour the cold eggs into the hot milk the eggs will cook before they get mixed in with the milk, so you have to slowly pour a little of the hot milk into the egg mixture while mixing first and then pour it back into the hot milk.

I got this awesome present from my mom, which is vanilla bean paste.  It can be used when the recipe calls for using an actual vanilla bean or in place of vanilla extract.  I think it is awesome.
The tart is pretty nutmeg-y.  It tastes a little like eggnog.  If you don't like nutmeg, I would suggest playing around with some other flavors rather than abandoning the tart altogether, because it is a great basis for a cream tart.  Use just vanilla or cinnamon instead.

I love the way my vanilla paste and the nutmeg leave those little specs of spice in the custard.  It gives it way more style.

Nutmeg, in my mind is usually a fall/winter flavor (pumpkin pie, eggnog etc).  To make it a little more summer-like, I meant to serve with some fresh raspberries, but of course completely forgot them.  But I think you will be pleased if you try it.

Nutmeg-Maple Cream Pie

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg
1 tbsp milk

3/4 cup maple syrup
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 9-inch tart shell

1. Mix flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients. Blend butter into flour until it is about the size of peas (it does not need to be evenly blended).
2. Blend in the egg and the milk (if necessary) stirring until the dough starts to stick together. Knead slightly until it forms a ball. Chill dough for 1-2 hours.
3. Butter a 9-inch tart or pie pan. Roll out dough to a 12-inch round. Lift crust to pan and press into bottom. Trim edges and fold in. Pierce crust all over with a fork.
4. Freeze crust in pie shell for at least 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes.
6. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.

2. Prepare filling: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce maple syrup by a quarter, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and egg. Whisking constantly, slowly add cream mixture to eggs. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a cup or bowl with pouring spout. Stir in salt, nutmeg and vanilla.
4. Pour filling into crust and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pie is firm to touch but jiggles slightly when moved, about 1 hour. Let cool to room temperature before serving.
From Smitten Kitchen
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