This is so special you could use it as a birthday cake. The marriage of buttery walnut pastry with rich chocolate, crowned with a profusion of firm, juicy raspberries, is magical. Add some chocolate leaves and caramelized walnuts, and this dessert will win applause. Note the combination of bittersweet and milk chocolate because the berries and the added sweetness of the milk chocolate seems to be a better combination. If you prefer, all dark chocolate may be used. You may substitute well drained canned mandarins or apricot glazed banana slices in the dead of winter. Sliced plums available in late summer, are a knock out choice, too.
1 recipe Walnut Pastry Crust, baked and cooled (recipe below)
3 ounces imported bittersweet chocolate
3 ounces imported milk chocolate
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 pints raspberries or 1 1/2 quarts uniform-size strawberries, split
4 ounces red currant jelly
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 to 3 ounces imported bittersweet chocolate
16 to 24 waxy, nonpoisonous leaves, such as camellia, orange, etc.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
8 walnut halves
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
Walnut Pastry Crust
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter,
chilled, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
Combine the flour, butter, egg, milk, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel chopping blade. With an on-off motion, process until the butter is the size of small peas.
Add the sugar, salt and walnuts and process just until the dough starts to pull together. Do not over-process or you will get nut butter. Remove from the bowl, pat into a ball, flatten into a disk about 3/4 inch thick, and dust with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and gently massage it until it is workable, turning it over a couple of times, and starting to flatten it with your fingertips. Dust the dough with a little flour. Lightly flour a rolling pin and board, and quickly roll the dough into a circle measuring about 14 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. If the dough sticks, add a small amount of flour and loosen with a dough scraper or long, thin-bladed knife. (I prefer to work on a pastry cloth, as I can turn the cloth quarter turns and roll the dough more evenly. It also makes it easy to flip the dough over into the tart pan.)
Carefully roll the dough over the pin or fold into quarters and position it over the pan. Unroll, and ease the dough into the prepared tart pan, working to flatten the bottom, and then gently pushing the dough well into the corners and against the sides with your thumb or fingertips. Trim off any excess dough by rolling the rolling pin over the tart pan or trimming with a knife. Excess dough may be cut into decorative shapes (like leaves or apples) and baked alongside the tart. Once baked, glaze them and place them on finished tarts for decorations.
Tear off a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the tart and place it, shiny side down, on the dough. Prick the dough well with a fork (through the foil), and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place the pan in the middle of the preheated 375 F. oven and bake until the crust begins to pull away from the pan, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the aluminum foil and beans or weights, saving the beans for another use. Remove the sides from pan (optional), prick the pastry with a sharp knife or fork if it swells up, and return the crust to the oven for another 6 to 8 minutes until golden. Remove the tart shell from the oven and let it cool on a rack.
ASSEMBLE THE TART: Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Remove the insert from the heat and stir in the butter. Spread the chocolate over the inside of the baked and cooled Walnut Pastry Crust. Place the raspberries in an orderly fashion over the chocolate before it is set.
PREPARE THE GLAZE: Combine the currant jelly and sugar in a small saucepan, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the sugar dissolves and the glaze coats a spoon. Brush the outside and top edge of the tart shell. (I do not feel it is necessary to glaze raspberries. I would glaze strawberries, and there is enough glaze here to do it. Store extra glaze in the refrigerator.)
MAKE THE CHOCOLATE LEAVES: Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Wash the leaves and dry them well. Brush the underside with chocolate and transfer them to the freezer for a few minutes. Holding on to the stem, carefully peel off the green leaf at the tip from the chocolate leaf. Return the chocolate leaves to the refrigerator or freezer until needed.
FOR THE CARAMEL WALNUTS: Heat 1/2 cup oil in a small saucepan until hot. Drop the walnut halves into the oil for about 30 to 45 seconds, or until lightly colored. Remove them with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the walnut halves and adjust the heat down to maintain a slow boil. Cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the nuts are shiny and coated, then remove them with a slotted spoon to a lightly buttered piece of wax paper to cool.
FOR THE DECORATION: Either place 8 walnut halves evenly spaced around the outside edge of tart, with 2 chocolate leaves on either side of each walnut or place 8 chocolate leaves evenly spaced around the outside edge of the tart with the stem edge pointed toward the center of the tart. Place 8 more leaves slightly overlapping the first leaves, working toward the center. Place the final 8 leaves in the same way, again overlapping slightly. You should have eight even sections of the tart. Place 4 walnut halves equally spaced around the outside. Place the remaining 4 walnut halves in the middle on the rows of leaves which do not already have a walnut. If desired, serve with softly whipped heavy cream.
Makes one-11 inch tart.