These nutty tartlets are a cross between a cheese course and dessert; goat cheese adds light tang to the silky custard filling, while the candied walnuts make a sweet, crunchy topping.
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6 ounces mild, soft goat cheese, such as Montrachet
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup apricot or raspberry preserves, melted and strained
3/4 cup walnuts (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
How to Make It
In a food processor, combine the walnuts, flour, sugar and a pinch of salt and pulse until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk with the ice water, then add the mixture to the processor and continue pulsing just until the dough forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape into a 12-inch log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece slightly into a round. Using your fingers, press the dough into eight 4 1/2-inch tartlet pans with removable bottoms; the pans should be about 3/4 inch deep. Prick the bottoms a few times with a fork and bake the crusts directly on the oven rack for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
In a medium nonstick skillet, cook the walnuts over moderately high heat, shaking the pan constantly, until toasted and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, lower the heat to moderate and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is melted and beginning to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir in the butter and immediately transfer the walnuts to a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper. Let cool completely, then break the clusters into smaller pieces.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, goat cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Brush the tartlet bottoms with half of the preserves. Fill each tartlet with 1/4 cup of the custard and smooth the tops. Set the tartlets on a large baking sheet and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the custard is just set. Transfer the tartlets to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes in their pans. Brush with the remaining melted preserves and sprinkle with the candied walnuts. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 the day before. Let the crusts stand at room temperature; store the candied walnuts in an airtight container; and refrigerate the custard. Let the custard return to room temperature before baking.
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