Dear SOS: My husband and I recently spent a weekend in San Francisco and had a superb dinner at Perbacco. Everything was wonderful, but our dessert was one of the most delicious I've ever tasted. If you could get the recipe for its pine nut and honey tart, I could begin to cure my craving.
Dear Deborah: I love everything about this tart. Not too sweet and with just the right touch of saltiness, this rustic dessert takes on light floral notes from the addition of Tasmanian honey, balancing the richness of the buttery pine nuts. The crust owes its perfectly flaky texture to a little lard, which the restaurant renders from heritage pigs. Pastry chef Suzanne LaFleur was happy to share her recipe, which we've adapted below.
Perbacco's pine nut honey tart
Total time: 1½ hours, plus chilling time
Note: Adapted from a recipe by Suzanne LaFleur at Perbacco Ristorante in San Francisco. Butter can be substituted for the lard in the crust if desired. Tasmanian honey is available at select gourmet markets and online; another good honey can be substituted. This recipe requires a 14-by-4-inch tart pan, preferably with a removable bottom. LaFleur recommends serving the tart with vanilla whipped cream or zabaglione and poached pears.
Scant 1 cup (4 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (½ ounce) cake flour
3/4 teaspoon (¼ ounce) baking powder
1 teaspoon (½ ounce) kosher salt
5 tablespoons (2½ ounces) cold butter
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (1⅔ ounces) cold lard
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
1. In a large bowl, sift together the all-purpose and cake flours along with the baking powder. Add the salt.
2. Cut the cold butter and lard into cubes about one-fourth inch in size. Spread out on a metal pan and freeze for 30 to 60 minutes until well-chilled.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour mixtures with the chilled butter and lard. Mix the ingredients on low speed until the mixture comes together resembling peas. With the mixer slowly running, gently drizzle over the water just until the dough barely comes together.
4. Remove the dough to a floured surface and pat it into a rectangular shape approximately 1 inch thick. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
5. Remove the chilled dough to a floured surface and roll it into a rectangle measuring 16 by 8 inches.
6. Carefully press the dough into the tart pan, making sure the dough is pressed into the corners of all sides. Trim the dough to fit, then cover with a sheet of parchment paper that has been cut into a rectangle measuring 18 by 8 inches (you will not use all the dough; save the scraps to bake off separately as desired). Weigh the paper down with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Refrigerate the formed tart shell for 1 hour.
7. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the weighted tart shell in the oven and bake until the crust edges turn slightly golden and the bottom of the tart is partially cooked.
8. Remove the shell from the oven and carefully remove the pie weights and parchment. Set aside until ready to fill.
Filling and finished tart
1 ¾ sticks (7 ounces) butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cupTasmanian honey
1/3 cupclover honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup toasted pine nuts
Prepared tart shell
1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small saucepan, bring the butter, Tasmanian and clover honeys, salt and cream to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla.
3. Whisk a little of the hot honey mixture into the eggs, then carefully add the rest (don't add the honey mixture too quickly or it will curdle the eggs). Stir in the pine nuts.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tart shell (it should go right up to the top of the shell) and carefully place the shell (still in the tart pan) onto a foil-lined baking sheet.
5. Place the tart in the oven and bake until the filling is set but jiggles slightly in the center when tapped, about 25 minutes.
6. Remove the tart and cool to room temperature on a rack.
7. Gently remove the tart from the pan before serving, using a paring knife to help pull the tart away from the pan (if the tart is stuck, warm it in the oven for a few minutes to soften the sticky honey to help unmold).
Each serving: 636 calories; 6 grams protein; 47 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 50 grams fat; 23 grams saturated fat; 143 mg cholesterol; 32 grams sugar; 360 mg sodium.