20 min

Boozy custard in a hazelnut pastry case topped with honey-caramelised nuts is to me the perfect dessert. Using custard powder is of course a bit of cheating and makes life easier. If you really want to you could of course make the custard from scratch. Feel free to replace the brandy with milk if you’d rather not use alcohol.

Vanilla-Nut Tartlets

For the Pastry

100g cold butter, cubed

70g caster sugar

Pinch of salt

200g plain flour

40g ground roasted hazelnuts

1 medium egg, beaten

For the Filling

35g custard powder

15g caster sugar

400g whole milk

100ml Brandy

For the Topping

60g pecan nuts

60g blanched hazelnuts, roasted

60g walnut halves

3 tbsp runny honey


For the pastry, place the butter, sugar, salt, flour and hazelnuts into a mixing bowl and using only your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Tip the mixture onto a worktop, make a well into the centre and pour in about 2/3 of the beaten egg.   Knead the egg lightly into the flour until you have a smooth ball. Wrap the pastry into cling film and refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Grease the sides and base line 12 mini fluted tartlet tins. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll into balls. Place each ball between sheets of cling film and roll out, one at a time, to 2cm larger than the tin. Place the pastry into the tins; prick the bottoms with a fork, line with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the baking beans and parchment paper and continue baking for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes, and then take the pastry cases out of the tins to cool completely on a wire rack.

While the cases are cooling make the filling. In a jug mix the custard powder and sugar with 2 tbsp of milk taken from the 400ml. In a saucepan heat the remaining milk to almost boiling and then pour the milk over the custard mixture stirring until combined. Return the custard to the saucepan and over a low to medium heat and stirring continuously bring it back to a boil. Stir in the brandy and leave to cool, stirring every so often to stop a skin forming. When the custard is barely warm, divide the mixture between the pastry cases.

Heat the honey in a non-stick frying pan. Add the nuts and stir until all the nuts are coated in honey and caramelized. The mixture should be a golden brown. Be careful not to let it burn.

To finish, spoon an equal amount of nuts onto each tartlet.

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