Summer changing into autumn is an experience that I was exposed to as a graduate student in the US. It was an experience that quickly and easily became a favorite. While, Durham, North Carolina is a small southern town known for its University presence, and its representation of local culture that invitingly included good eating, in retrospect it seems interesting to realize that some of my earliest experience of pastry in the United States was enriched in this town by a tiny, standing-room only patisserie that I’ve rarely seen empty when its glass cases were filled with all sorts of European-style treats.
One autumn weekend morning when I was standing in front of the glass case at this patisserie I saw a tart with a label that I had to ask to pronounce. Engadiner (pronounced Engadi-nah by the staff) nusstorte rolled out like a song befitting the description of toasted walnuts folded into rich caramel and a little bit of kirsch encased in crumbly pastry crust, so much so I remember eating the tart, and dreaming about visiting the Engadine region sometime in autumn.
Below is a method to make a version of the Engadiner Nusstorte
Pastry dough like pâte sablée or short crust pastry
Toast some walnuts in the oven. Make the caramel sauce and add some kirsch to it off the heat. While the sauce cools down roll out the pastry dough into a tart ring and let rest. Mix the toasted walnuts into the room temperature caramel sauce. If using a bottom crust thicker than the top crust, blind bake the bottom crust before adding the caramel walnut filling. Roll out the top crust, brush with egg-wash and bake in a 300˚ oven until a golden crust is formed.
The people in the Engadine region of Switzerland, I’m told, welcome the chill of autumn by eating this rich tart presumably with a hot drink to keep them warm. Interestingly, walnuts don’t seem local to the Engadine but their use in this nusstorte seems to be unique to the Engadine autumn.