I adore honey and love using it in both sweet and savoury dishes. The sweetness in this very easy recipe is carefully balanced with the salt and gives a dessert that has always proved hard to resist.
Salted honey tart: easy and quick to prepare
I have adapted this dish from Nigella’s website, to including the addition of ground almonds into the filling and a little thyme in both the pastry and the filling, but the thyme is entirely optional: I love the flavour it brings, but I sometimes omit it depending on how I feel.
This recipe ticks all the right flavour boxes for me and for those who have eaten it with me. It is perfect just as it comes or with a little unembellished Greek yoghurt, crème fraîche or soured cream.
It is an easy tart to make: the pastry handles very well (as with most pastry, chilling is the key). And you don’t need to cook the pastry first. As an added bonus, the filling is made up in moments.
Salt in sweet dishes: oh yes!
There are folk who turn their nose up at the notion of salted sweet dishes, but in my experience they have either yet to experience this exciting combination or they have has the misfortune to have eaten sweet dishes that have had too much salt in it.
Salt really enhances a sweet dish if used well: a little sprinkling into melted chocolate brings out the flavour of the chocolate significantly, and a little over the top of meringues before they go into the oven gives a wonderful flavour to the baked meringue. And of course there is the total joy of a proper salted caramel: much nicer than unsalted caramel, in my opinion, with more depth of flavour.
You do need the right sort of salt, though: it should be sea salt in flakes, crystals or very fine, rather than “table salt”.
Great as a large tart or as smaller individual treats
A large tart, brought to the table for slicing ceremoniously, adds to the joy of a meal, but this is also great made into small individual portions: perfect for transporting for a picnic or as part of an Afternoon Tea.
For individual ones, cut out circles of pastry and place into buttered mince pie tins – deep or shallow. Spoon a little of the filling into each one and bake for about 20 minutes until well risen with a slight wobble.
A shortcut version
If making pastry is not your thing, use a bought, ready cooked sweet pastry case and simply pour the filling into it. Bake for the same time as given below, but cover the tart loosely with foil after about 30 minutes to stop the pastry browning too much.
Recipe: salted honey tart – makes one large tart
For the pastry:
- 180g plain flour
- 90g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- cold water to mix
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves, optional
For the filling:
- 120g unsalted butter, melted
- 100g light soft brown sugar
- 60g ground almonds
- 1.5 teaspoons sea salt flakes or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, optional
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 250g honey – go for the best quality you can: runny or thick
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 125g full-fat crème fraîche
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
- a generous pinch of flaked sea salt
You will also need a well buttered 9″ pie tin or a loose-bottomed 9″ flan tin/cake tin about 1″ deep
Make the pastry:
(1) Mix the flour, thyme leaves and sugar in a medium-sized bowl and gently rub in the butter until you get the texture of small breadcrumbs – or pop it in the food processer and pulse gently for a few seconds. Add a few tablespoons of cold water, mixing gently to incorporate, adding more to get a soft dough. Pat it down a little, wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least an hour.
(2) Roll out the pastry on the work surface that has been lightly dusted with flour to about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer it to a buttered pie dish or loose-bottomed cake tin and trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan. Crimp along the edge with your fingers or a fork. Cover it with clingfilm and chill until needed. NB: if you find the pastry is too firm to roll out after chilling, leave it at room temperature for about 20 minutes to slightly soften up.
Make the filling:
(3) While the pastry case is chilling, preheat the oven to 170C (fan). In a medium bowl whisk together all the filling ingredients until thoroughly combined. That’s it!
(4) Pour the filling into the pastry case and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is deep golden brown, has puffed around the edges and is just set in the centre: it should have a gentle wobble, which will set a little firmer as it cools.
(5) Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least few hours before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature, and give a light sprinkling of sea salt just before serving.