My devotion to peanut butter and any and all of the ways we smash it up against chocolate would be impossible to question. From peanut butter cookies dotted with more peanut butter and chocolate chips, peanut butter-filled chocolate cookies, peanut butter and chocolate tarts, cakes, icebox and cheesecakes to peanut butter-swirled brownies, peanut butter blondies with chocolate chunks, it shouldn’t surprise you in the least that I also have a favorite Reese’s peanut butter cup shape (egg, as if there were ever a debate). However, my peanut devotion is neither limited to peanut butter or the proximity of chocolate, and so when we ended up at Houseman restaurant a couple weeks ago for dinner, we tried the salted peanut tart with sour cream for dessert and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since.
It turns out it’s not just me. It’s “like pecan pie without all the goo” Pete Wells wrote in the New York Times. Tejal Rao described it as “a fine, low-to-the-ground number with a crisp pastry, plenty of actual peanuts, and very little of anything else” for Bloomberg. And Scott Lynch said “this gooey, crunchy, buttery beauty is like the peanut brittle of your dreams, and the whipped, fluffy dab of sour cream adds an unexpected and wholly welcome bit of tang to the party,” on Gothamist.
Because my priorities are straight, it was the first thing I made when I got home. This isn’t officially it — I didn’t call the restaurant and beg for the recipe or anything. I prefer to recreate things the way I remember them, even imperfectly. I recalled a good toasty caramel (I use brown butter, dark brown sugar, and golden syrup or honey here) like a pecan pie would have, but much less goopy (a higher concentration of nuts in the filling does the trick); a thin, crisp cookie-like crust with a whiff of vanilla (here we make it quickly and press it in); and no matter how strange the dollop of sour cream to finish might sound (not sweetened, although you could if you wish) it is chocolate to the peanut butter here, harmonious and complementary in a way that no other toppings could come close. I hope you love this too.
One year ago: Quick, Essential Stovetop Mac-and-Cheese
Two years ago: Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes and Pomegranate Grapefruit Paloma
Three years ago: Belgian Brownie Cakelets, Broccoli Melts, and White Russian
Four years ago: Perfect Corn Muffins and Spaghetti Pangrattato with Crispy Fried Eggs
Five years ago: Stuck-Pot Rice with Lentils and Yogurt and Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew and Morning Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel
Six years ago: Blood Orange Margaritas
Seven years ago: Double Coconut Muffins and Fried Egg Sandwich with Bacon and Blue Cheese
Eight years ago: Green Bean Salad with Pickled Red Onions and Fried Almonds and Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil
Nine years ago: Walnut Jam Cake, Ginger Fried Rice and Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with Mint Cream
Ten years ago: Whole Lemon Tart, Alex’s Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage and Toasted Coconut Shortbread
Eleven years ago: Pasta Puttanesca and Pear and Almond Tart
Twelve years ago: Fusilli with Baked Tomato Sauce and Aloo Gobi.
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Layered Mocha Cheesecake
1.5 Years Ago: Cheesecake Bars with All The Berries and Corn Chowder with Chile, Lime, and Cotija
2.5 Years Ago: Peach Melba Popsicles, Chile-Lime Melon Salad and Chocolate Peanut Butter Icebox Cake
3.5 Years Ago: Frozen Hot Chocolate and Angel Hair Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce
4.5 Years Ago: Blueberry Crumb Cake, Cold Noodles with Miso, Lime, and Ginger, Apricot Pistachio Squares and Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
Salted Peanut Tart
You could also make this tart as bars! Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with two pieces of parchment paper, each extending up two sides. Press the crust dough evenly across the bottom and 1/4-inch up the sides of this pan. Parbake at 350 (no weights or freezing required) for 15 minutes, until very pale golden. Continue with topping as written; topping baking time is the same as tart. Once cool, cut into 16 square bars.
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
- 1/3 cup (40 grams) powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine, cut into a few chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup (125 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (110 grams) honey or golden syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups (about 10 ounces or 285 grams) salted peanuts
- Flaky sea salt and plain sour cream to finish (optional)
Heat oven to 350°F (175°C).
Make the crust: Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and vanilla to the bowl, then run the machine until the mixture forms large clumps — just keep running it; it might take another 30 seconds for it to come together, but it will. Set a marble or two of dough aside, and transfer the rest of it to a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom set on a large baking sheet (for drips and stability of use) and press the dough evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Transfer to freezer for 15 minutes, until solid.
Parbake crust: Once firm, prick all over with a fork. Coat a piece of foil with nonstick spray, and press it oiled-side-down tightly against the frozen crust, so it is fully molded to the shape. Bake tart with foil (no pie weights needed) for 15 minutes, then carefully, gently, a little at a time, peel back foil and discard. If cracks have formed, use the marbles of dough you set aside to patch it. Return to oven for 5 minutes, until just barely golden at edges and dry to the touch. Set aside.
Meanwhile, make filling: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and continue cooking it, stirring frequently, until it smells nutty and brown bits form at the bottom of the pot. Whisk in brown sugar and golden syrup or honey and cook at a simmer, whisking constantly, for one minute. Pour into a large bowl, scraping out all of the browned bits from the pot that you can, and place in the fridge or, as I did, on your very cold patio, for 10 minutes, until it has cooled somewhat. Whisk in apple cider vinegar (with cuts the sweetness and adds complexity, not a vinegary flavor, promise), vanilla, and eggs, one at a time, then stir in peanuts.
Bake tart: Pour filling into prepared tart shell, top with a little flaky salt, if you wish, and bake for 23 to 28 minutes, until just faintly jiggly in the center and golden brown all over. Cool on a rack to room temperature, or, like me, you can rush this along in the fridge, but don’t let it fully chill.
Serve: Decorate (if you wish) with powdered sugar. Serve in wedges at room temperature (not cold, which can be too firm) with a dollop of sour cream.
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