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Creamy Parsnip Tart

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Parsnips may be unexpected in the pastry kitchen, but their natural sweetness and creamy quality when cooked recommend them for the job. The inspiration for this elegant dessert came from a similar treatment of carrots, which got me thinking … if parsnips can stand in for carrots in a classic favorite like carrot cake, why not a tart?

Makes one 10-inch tart, to serve 8 to 10
Start to finish: about 5 hours, including baking and chilling

img_1006Recipe:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
10 ounces parsnips, peeled and sliced in 1/4-inch thick coins (about 1 1/2 cups)
2/3 cup heavy cream
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken in 2 pieces
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk

To make the crust, cream the butter, granulated and brown sugar, and honey in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, until smooth and lighter in color, about 3 minutes.

Combine the all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon and add to the creamed butter and sugar in 2 batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Mix until well combined. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill at least 1 hour or until firm.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 12- to 13-inch circle with a 1/4-inch thickness. Fold the dough in half and carefully lay it in a 10-inch tart pan with a false bottom and fluted edges. Lightly press the dough into the corners and fold the outer edge of the pastry into the sides, pressing to create an even wall that extends just beyond the top of the pan. Pinch off excess pastry. Dock the bottom of the shell by pricking it with a fork and freeze 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Make the filling while the shell is in the freezer. Combine the parsnips, heavy cream, cloves, and cinnamon stick in a small, nonreactive saucepan. Simmer the mixture, covered, over low heat until the parsnips are soft, about 20 minutes. Cool completely, remove the spices, and puree until very smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, sugar, nutmeg, and salt until well combined. Add the cool parsnip puree and the buttermilk, whisking until smooth. This mixture can be made and refrigerated 2 days ahead. Bake the chilled shell until deep -golden brown and dry in appearance, about 30 minutes.

Pour the filling into the shell and bake 30 to 40 minutes or until the edges of the filling puff slightly. The tart will jiggle in the center and appear to be underbaked—this is OK. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then chill until set, about 2 hours.

Serve the tart at room temperature the day it is baked, or chilled the following day.

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