This elegant dessert presents an intriguing contrast in flavor and texture. The crisp crust holds a rich, creamy Custard topped with a hot, sugary glaze. Unlike traditional creme brulee, this topping also includes finely chopped nuts.
For the pastry:
½ cup cold Butter
1¼ cups all-purpose Flour
1 beaten egg yolk
2-3 tablespoons water
1 slightly beaten egg white
For the filling:
1/3 cup granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1¼ cups half-and-half, light cream, or Milk
For the brulee topping:
¼ cup packed Brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans.
For pastry, in a medium mixing bowl, cut Butter into Flour till pieces are size of small peas. In a small mixing bowl combine egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of the water. Gradually stir egg yolk mixture into flour mixture. Add remaining water, 1 tablespoon at a time, till dough is moistened. Gently knead dough just till a ball forms. For easier handling, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30-60 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten the dough. Roll dough into an 11-inch circle. Ease pastry into a 9-inch tart pan; trim pastry even with the edge of the pan. Line unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of foil. Bake in a preheated 375° F. (190° C) oven for 10 minutes. Remove foil, brush crust with egg white, and bake 10 minutes more.
Meanwhile, for filling, in a large mixing bowl use a rotary beater or wire whisk to lightly beat Eggs just till mixed. Stir in the granulated Sugar and vanilla. Gradually stir in half-and-half, cream, or milk. With the pastry shell on the oven rack, pour the filling into the pastry shell. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F. (180° C) Bake for 25-35 minutes, or till a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack. Cover and chill for 2-24 hours before serving.
For brulee topping, just before serving, press Brown sugar through a sieve evenly over filling. Sprinkle with nuts. Broil 4-5 inches from the heat for 2-3 minutes, or till brown sugar begins to melt. Carefully remove sides of tart pan.