Today we'll talk about a dessert that will bring you suddenly in the heart of Europe, surrounded by Swiss Alps. We're talking about the Engadin nut tart, called also Graubunden nusstarte in German language or torta engadina in Italian.
The Engadin nut tart is a typical swiss pie from the Engadin region, in the canton of Grisons. Engadin in the romansh language (the original language of the canton) means literally "Garden of the Inn", because of the river Inn, that cross the valley.
Maybe you have heard of St. Moritz, one of Europe's most famous ski destination, that is the capital of the Engadin valley. This most beautiful alpine region has also the "Trenino Rosso", or the Bernina Express, a pretty little panoramical train that offers breathtaking view of the Alps...literally from above the mountains. This train has also gained the Unesco World Heritage site title, one of the very few railway track to obtain this result! We must confess to you that we discovered the Engadin nut tart during a trip on the Bernina Express! Since then, every time we go to Switzerland or hop onto the Bernina Express, we return back home with a lot of Engadin nut tarts in our backpack!
|The Bernina Express, image found on Pinterest|
The awe-inspiring beauty of the Engadin atracted lots of artist, for instance one of the biggest name is Giovanni Segantini, one of the most important painter of the XIX centuty (yet largely unknown to the large public). In his lifetime, he never had passport, he did never undestand what borders were, he just followed the beauty of nature. That lead him to Engadin, in Switzerland, where he find a second home in Maloggia. He was one of the bigger divisionist and symbolist european painter, he always looked for God in the beauty of nature, he was a sort of a druid trying to grab a pantheistic deity with his art. He died of pneumonia trying to paint an alpine scene en plen air above the Schafberg mountain. If you're interested in his work, one of the painter most know works is the "Trittico delle Alpi", the tryptic of the Alps, that you can see in the Segantini Museum of St. Moritz, with the largest collection of this painter.
Leaving the brushes on a side, the Engadin nut tart, or the "tuorta de noush engiadinaisa", as it is called in romansh language, is a delicios pie made of walnuts, almonds and caramel. It is an ancient recipe, based upon a tart made with a lot of butter called "fuatscha grassa".
Between the XV and the XIX century many pastry chef from Engadin migrated in other europeans country, spreading their culinary art throughout the Old Continent. Many Engadinese pastry chef emigrated from instance to Venice in Italy or Toulouse in France. In one of these migrations, the "fuatscha grassa" meet the walnuts, and it was love at first sight! The cold weather of Engadin, infact, is not fit for walnuts to grow, so the typical Engadinese nut tart is actually made with...foreigner walnuts! This sort of mix of different product coming from different alpine sides and alpine nations is a very frequent exchange that enrich the variety of the Alpine Euroregion.
It is a dessert perfect for any occasion, since it last long after its preparation. The very first Engadin nut tart as we intend today was commercialized in 1926 by Fausto Pult in Samedan, very close to the Bernina range that named the little red train of the Bernina Express railway. In 1934, Fausto Pult presented his Engadin nut tart at the Basel fair. It immediately became a success, and nowadays it is very beloved by the ski tourists visiting St. Moritz.
Ingredients: (For a 22-24 cm wide tart)
For the pie crust:
- 275 g. of flour
- 175 g. of butter (cold)
- 75 g. of sugar
- 1 egg
- a pinch of salt (1/4 tsp)
For the filling:
-150 g. of sugar
- 4 spoonful of water
- 130 g. of walnuts
- 25 g. of sliced almonds
- 200 ml. of heavy cream
- 1 spoonful of honey
1- Let's start preparing the pie crust. It can't be easier! You just have got to pull all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them all together. Please use cold butter in this phase, cut it into dices so it will melt well into the dough. If you see that the dough is somewhat sandy and not so homogeneous, just add a couple of spoonful of water to the dough, and you'll see it turn into a perfect pie crust! Knead it into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap and pop it into the fridge while you'll prepare the filling.
2- Let's deal with the filling: pour the water and the sugar into a pot on low heat until it starts boiling. Then lower the heat and we wait until it becomes golden brown, then the remove the pot from the heat.
3- We put our minced walnuts into the pot, the sliced almonds and some heavy cream, then we put the pot back on heat. In just a matter of minutes we'll have a liquid cream. At this point we'll add the honey, we'll stir for a while and then we remove the pot from heat and we let the mix to cool completely.
4- Let's prepare the mould of our pie. Grease the mould, preferably a metallic one. Lay the pie crust above the mould with the help of a rolling pin, use half of the dough, the rest will be used to cover the filling of our pie. The pie crust will be some 2 cms thick, and the edges must be covered too. After that our filling has completely cooled down, we'll pour it into our pie crust, the surface of the batter must be nice and even and then we cover it with the remaining pie crust. To close the edges, we'll use a fork and we seal the filling, creating the trademark edge of the Engadin nut tart. At last, we'll pinch the surface of our pie so that it won't blow up during the baking.
5- We pop the mould into a preheated oven at 180ºC for some 55 minutes approximately. Let it cool onto a rack and...time to eat, my friend!
This pie last long, you can keep it into the fridge covered with plastic wrap for up to two weeks.