Torta della nonna, torta di pinoli, grandmother's cake: Whatever you call it, this creamy dessert from Skye McAlpine is a true celebration of home-cooked Italian food. It comes from McAlpine's first cookbook, A Table in Venice, in which the From My Dining Table blogger opens our eyes to life in Venice beyond the storied canals—and all the seafood, bigoli and warm pastries that come along with it.
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Torta Della Nonna (Pine Nut and Custard Tart)
Reprinted from A Table in Venice: Recipes From My Home. Copyright © 2018 by Skye McAlpine. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Skye McAlpine. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
For the Pastry:
7 tablespoons (200 grams) salted butter
3 cups plus 3 tablespoons (400 grams) all-purpose ﬂour, plus more for dusting
1½ cups (170 grams) confectioners' sugar
4 large egg yolks
For the Filling:
2 cups (500 milliliters) whole milk
5 large egg yolks
¾ cup (125 grams) granulated sugar
⅓ cup (40 grams) all-purpose ﬂour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (120 grams) pine nuts
1. Make the pastry: Process the butter and ﬂour in a food processor until you have a mixture the consistency of grainy sand. (If you don't have a food processor, rub the butter into the ﬂour with your thumb and foreﬁnger in a bowl.) Remove the blade, then sift the confectioners' sugar in with the ﬂour and butter. Add the egg yolks, and use your hands to bring the dough together. If it feels too dry and crumbly, add 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
3. On a lightly ﬂoured work surface, roll out the dough using a rolling pin into a large disk that is roughly ⅛ inch (3 to 5 mm) thick. Gently lift the dough using the rolling pin and lay it into a 10-inch (27 cm) tart pan. Gently press it down into the nooks and crannies, then roll over the top of the pan with the rolling pin to cut away excess pastry. Prick the bottom of the tart all over with a fork. Cover the pastry with parchment paper and ﬁll with baking beans or weights.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until dry to the touch, then remove the parchment paper and weights, put the tart shell back in the oven, and bake for 5 to 7 minutes more, or until the pastry is lightly golden. Remove and let cool brieﬂy. Reduce the oven temperature to 350˚F.
5. Make the ﬁlling: Add the milk to a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, and slowly heat until it starts steaming and little bubbles start rising around the edges. Take care not to let it boil.
6. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until pale and ﬂuffy. Sift in the ﬂour and slowly, while continuously whisking the eggs, gradually pour in the hot milk. Whisk in the vanilla. Return the mixture to the saucepan over gentle heat and simmer, whisking, until it thickens to a rich custard consistency, 4 to 5 minutes.
7. Pour the custard into the pastry shell and top with the pine nuts. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and just set in the middle. Let cool brieﬂy, then remove the rim of the tart pan. Serve warm.