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Caramel Nut Tartlets

Vegetable-oil cooking spray
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter
3 cups nuts (about 101/2 ounces; preferably a mixture of pecans, hazelnuts, and walnuts)
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 325F. and spray tartlet pans with cooking spray. In a small bowl whisk together yolk, water, and vanilla. In a food processor pulse together flour, sugar, and salt until combined well. Cut butter into 1/4-inch pieces and scatter over flour mixture. Pulse mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add egg mixture with motor running and pulse just until dough forms a ball. Turn dough out onto a work surface and with heel of hand press dough together just until smooth and cohesive. Form dough into fifty 1-inch balls. Press balls into bottoms and up sides of tartlet pans, making 1/8-inch-thick shells (if working in batches, keep remaining dough chilled). Trim any overhang and with a fork prick bottom of each shell several times. Transfer shells in pans to shallow baking pans. Gather scraps together and make more shells in same manner. Bake shells in batches in lower third of oven, checking after 6 minutes for signs of blistering (if necessary, prick dough with fork to deflate any air pockets), 15 minutes total, or until surface of crust is no longer shiny and dough appears set and golden. Cool shells in pans on racks until cool enough to handle and gently remove shells from pans. All shells should be baked before proceeding. Leave oven on. In a large shallow baking pan toast nuts (if using hazelnuts, keep separate from other types) in one layer in middle of oven until golden, about 15 minutes. (To skin hazelnuts, wrap nuts while still hot in a kitchen towel and let steam 1 minute. Rub nuts in towel to remove loose skins; do not worry about skins that do not come off.) Cool nuts completely and in a food processor pulse until coarsely chopped. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan heat sugar, water, and corn syrup over low heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Boil mixture, without stirring, until golden. Remove pan from heat and add cream (use caution; mixture will bubble up and vigorously steam), stirring carefully with a wooden spoon until combined well. (If lumps form, return pan to low heat and stir caramel until smooth.) Transfer caramel to a bowl to cool and thicken, about 10 minutes. Add nuts, stirring to coat. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons filling into each shell. Tartlets keep, in one layer in airtight containers at room temperature or chilled, 3 days.

Source: www.epicurious.com