Recipe: Hatfield’s walnut praline tarts with espresso ice cream

Espresso ice cream enhances the praline tart.
(Spencer Weiner / LAT)
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

These tartlets may be small in diameter, but they’re big on deliciousness. Roasted walnuts are nestled into a creamy praline filling and baked in a crisp, chocolate sablé crust. As if that’s not enough, they’re served with rich, homemade espresso ice cream.

Times test kitchen director Donna Deane raved about this dessert after a recent evening at Hatfield’s in Los Angeles. “The chocolate in the crust with the praline filling is a great match,” she said. “The ice cream is well worth the extra time.”

Hatfield’s walnut praline tart and espresso ice cream

Total time: 2 hours, 30 minutes, plus chilling and freezing time

Servings: 8

Note: Adapted from Karen Hatfield. Trablit can be found at Surfas in Culver City. This recipe makes slightly more crust and filling than is needed for the recipe.

Espresso ice cream

2 cups milk

2/3 cup cream

3/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons sugar, divided

1 vanilla bean

8 egg yolks

2 teaspoons ground coffee

4 teaspoons Trablit (or coffee extract)

2 shots espresso

1. In a large saucepan, combine the milk, cream and three-fourths cup sugar. Split and scrape the vanilla bean, and add the seeds and pod to the milk mixture. Stirring frequently, bring the mixture to a boil and then remove from the heat.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining 4 teaspoons sugar in a medium bowl. Temper the eggs by slowly pouring half of the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the eggs, whisking constantly. When combined, slowly add the egg mixture to the saucepan while whisking. Cook the mixture over low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a bowl set over an ice bath. Stir until the mixture is cool. Strain into a medium bowl. Stir in the ground coffee, Trablit and espresso. Refrigerate the mixture until chilled. Place the mixture in an ice cream maker and proceed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store in the freezer up to one week.

Chocolate sablé crust

9 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 egg

1/8 teaspoon salt

1cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

1. Combine the butter, cocoa powder and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a paddle attachment, mix until just combined and there are no streaks of butter. Alternatively, combine the butter, cocoa powder and powdered sugar in a large bowl and blend with a hand mixer until no streaks of butter remain.

2. In a small bowl, beat the egg. Add half of the beaten egg (discard the other half) to the butter-cocoa-sugar mixture and mix until smooth.

3. In a small bowl, combine the salt and flour. Add them to the butter mixture and mix on medium-low speed until the flour is incorporated; be careful not to overmix.

4. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least two hours, or overnight.

5. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. Roll the dough out to about one-eighth-inch thick. Cut out eight 4-inch rounds and press each round into an individual 3-inch tart mold. You will have some dough left over. Chill the molds until firm, 30 minutes to an hour. Trim the excess dough from the tops.

6. Place the shells on a baking sheet. Weight each of the shells with pie weights and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the weights and continue to bake an additional 10 to 12 minutes until the shell is set and firm. Allow to cool and set aside.

Praline filling

2 cups walnut halves

3 tablespoons butter

2 eggs

1egg yolk

3/4 cup dark corn syrup

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon dark rum

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Roast the walnut halves for 10 to 15 minutes until toasted and aromatic. Set aside. (Leave the oven on at 325 degrees for baking the tarts.)

2. In a small sauté pan over medium-low heat, cook the butter until deep brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk until lightly frothy. Stream in the warm butter while whisking the eggs until incorporated. Stir in the corn syrup, brown sugar, rum, vanilla extract and salt until combined and the mixture is smooth.

4. Fill the tart shells loosely with walnuts, 3 to 4 walnuts per shell, and pour in the praline filling to the brim of each tart shell. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is a light golden-brown. Serve warm with espresso ice cream.

Each serving: 757 calories; 13 grams protein; 80 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 45 grams fat; 18 grams saturated fat; 343 mg. cholesterol; 193 mg. sodium.