Voila, here it is, ma recette for my version of a traditional Perigourdine Gateau au Noix! I think it is as good as the ones I first had from the patisserie in Thenon. This is the land of walnuts. the hills are covered with groves of walnut trees and it is one of the major crops of this region. My village, Badefols d'Ans is located on a road named Le Route de la Noix. So this was my Thanksgiving Day culinary extravaganza. I use a traditional metal tarte mold with a removable bottom. They seem to be harder and harder to find in the shops, but I have a collection of them I have gotten from Flea markets.
The hardest part is cracking the walnuts and this year, because of the weather, the shells were thick and hard and the meats were small and hard to get out. Once you get past that, the rest is pretty simple. I make the crust out of 30 grams of powdered walnuts, 60 grams of powdered sugar, 250 grams of flour, 125 grams sweet butter (I melt it and then let it cool down) and an egg yolk.
I mix the ingredients and form a ball and put it in the fridge for an hour or so.
Them I press it into the tart mold to make a crust with my fingers...today I used a glass to roll over it in the mold.
Prick the crust with a fork and prebake it 15 minutes in an180 degree centigrade oven.
Then, the filling:
250 grams of powdered walnuts, 200 grams of regular sugar, 50 grams of corn starch and 200 grams of thick creme fraiche....I have made this with fromage blanc in the past and it worked just as well. I suppose you could use greek style thick yoghurt. My secret ingredient at this point is a shot glass of walnut liquor...but, I have used brandy in the past. If you don't want to use alcohol, then thin the mixture with a little milk.
Spread the mixture in the crust. It's pretty substantial stuff. Then put it in the oven. I started it at 200 degrees centigrade then after 15 minutes turned it down to 180. It will brown and puff up. After another 15 minutes, I turn the oven off and let it sit in the cooling oven for another 10 minutes...
Take it out and let it cool.
When it is cool enough, I break up 100 grams of dark chocolate and melt it with 20 grams of butter. Spread that over the top and then decorate it with the walnuts you managed not to smash when you were cracking them! The filled gateau should pop right out of the mold! Mine did! My wife is in Perigueux getting the stitches removed from her eye as I write this. Tonight we will have something to be really thankful for!
To all of my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving 2014!