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My mini version of "Torta della nonna", an Italian traditional sweet

Torta della nonna is a timeless classic and an inevitable dessert on traditional tables, a perfect cake for Sunday lunch and not only.
Prep Time 50 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Resting Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

For the Sweet Dough (Pâté Sucrée):

  • 115 g Unsalted Butter cut in small cubes
  • 200 g Flour
  • 50 g Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 pinches Salt
  • 1 lemon zest

For the pastry cream:

  • ½ l Milk
  • 75 g Flour
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 75 g Sugar
  • 1 lemon peel

For decoration:

  • 30 g Pine nuts
  • Icing sugar

Instructions
 

Sweet Dough (Pâté Sucrée) 

  • Using your finger tips rub the butter into flour, sugar and salt until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Work it as quick as you can otherwise the butter will get softer.
  • Add the egg and the lemon zest and mix with your fingers until just combined. Compress it with your hands to form a dough. 
    Making Pâté Sucrée sweet dough
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour, 1 hour. 
    Pâté Sucrée sweet dough

Pastry cream

  • Put the milk in a saucepan and add the lemon peel. When the milk is hot, remove it from the heat and remove the lemon peel.
    Milk with lemon peel
  • In the meantime, put the yolks in a bowl, add the sugar and mix with a whisk until light in color. Sift the flour, gradually add it to the mixture of yolks and sugar and mix carefully until completely homogenous.
    Making pastry cream
  • Gradually pour the warm milk over the mixture and mix with a whisk until smooth. Put the liquid mixture obtained back in the pan and boil the cream on low heat for about 10 minutes or until you get a creamy composition (if you have a food thermometer, the temperature of the final cream should be 82°C). It is very important to stir the cream continuously during boiling, in order to get a silky cream, without lumps.
    Making pastry cream
  • Once ready pour the cream into a bowl and immediately cover the surface of the cream with food-grade plastic wrap (the foil is placed directly over the cream).
    Let the cream cool completely.
    Pastry cream covered with cling film

Assembly: 

  • Once both your pastry and cream are completely cooled, cut the pastry in 7 parts, 6 equal in size for the tarts and one bigger for the strips. One at the time roll out each part to have a thickness of about 4mm (a bit over 1/8 inch) and line the moulds previously greased and poke some holes with a fork. 
    The 7th part keep it for the strips that goes on top of the cream.
  • Take the cream and add it into the moulds.
  • Take the remaining pastry, always roll it out to a thickness of 4mm, then cut into strips.
  • Apply the strips to the surface of the tarts and add the pine nuts.
  • Bake in a static oven at 200°C for 30-40 minutes. 
  • Leave it to cool completely and, before serving, sprinkle the surface of torta della nonna with icing sugar.

Notes

Tips:
  1. Depending on the size of the egg, if the dough is too soft you may need to add a little bit of flour or if is too hard you may need to add a little bit of cold water. 
  2. Cover the surface of the cream immediately once ready with food-grade plastic wrap placing the foil directly over the cream in order to avoid the crust formation on top of it.
  3. To prevent the pine nuts from burning during cooking, soak them in cold water for about 10 minutes.
  4. For an easier life and manageability, I've used 3.5 inches mini tart pans with removable bottom.
Keyword mini tarts with cream, torta della nonna