Honey and toasted pine nuts give this tart a depth of flavors which are highlighted by the addition of fresh lemon zest and thyme. The buttery pate sablee shell is the appropriate vessel to hold the light caramel filling as it adds a needed layer of crunch to the finished tart which is best served with a lightly sweetened whipped cream or a crisp sorbet.
FOR THE SHELL
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
½ cup confectioners sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon zest, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
1½ cups flour
2 teaspoons heavy cream
FOR THE FILLING
1½ cups pine nuts, toasted
½ cup sugar
⅔ cup honey
1 tsp kosher salt
1 sprig of thyme
1 stick (4 oz) cold butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
½ cup heavy cream
1 whole egg + 2 egg yolks
1. Make the shell: Put the butter and confectioners sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until just combined. Add in the yolks and mix until incorporated. Add in the lemon zest, salt, chopped thyme and the flour all at once. Mix on low speed until just combined, add in the heavy cream and mix just until dough comes together. Wrap the dough with a piece of plastic wrap and press into a flattened disk. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Heat oven to 375F. On a well floured surface, roll the dough out to a ¼ inch thick rectangle (about 16x6inches). Using the rolling pin, transfer the dough and drape over a 14×4 inch rectangular fluted tart pan. Press into the corners and use a sharp knife to trim any overhanging pieces, prick the dough with a fork on the bottom and refrigerate for another 30 minutes. Place the tart shell on a baking sheet and fit with a strip of parchment, bake with pie weights until the edges are golden brown (15 minutes). Remove the parchment and weights and bake for another 15 minutes until the bottom is slightly browned. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely.
3. Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Set aside and lower the oven to 325F.
4. Meanwhile, make the filling: Peel the skin off the lemon with a peeler being careful not to peel the pith along with the skin and trying as much as possible to get it off in a whole piece. Bring the honey, sugar and salt to a slow simmer over medium low heat, consistently stirring with a heat resistant rubber spatula until the sugar dissolves, about 5-6 minutes. In the last minute of cooking, add in the lemon peel and sprig of thyme. Remove the panfrom the heat and add the cold butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring continuously untilthe butter has melted and is incorporated into the mixture. Allow the mixture to cool for 30 minutes. Once cooled, whisk in the cream, egg and yolks, and remove the lemon peel and thyme sprig, set aside.
5. Place the prepared tart shell on a baking sheet, pour in the toasted pine nuts and then pour the cooled mixture over the pine nuts. Bake the tart for 50 minutes to an hour till goldenbrown but the center moves slightly when wobbled. The surface should look slightly cracked and bubbly. Allow the tart to cool completely before removing from the pan and serving.