Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Goel and Suyai Steinhauer

The Nutcracker "Sweet"

In Two Parts: A slice of caramel nut pie with a "cup of joe"
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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 2 hr 30 min
  • Prep: 1 hr 30 min
  • Inactive: 30 min
  • Cook: 30 min
  • Yield: 16 pie slices and 100 bonbons
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Caramel Nut Pies: 

Pate sucree, recipe follows

About 4 1/2 ounces granulated sugar

1 tablespoon glucose

75 ml heavy cream

75 ml milk

Pinch salt

About 4 1/2 ounces walnuts, chopped

About 7 ounces grams creme d'amandes, recipe follows

Chocolate Espresso Bonbons (aka "cup of joe")

Espresso Ganache Bonbon Filling:

About 21 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

About 10 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

About 9 ounces espresso beans

946 ml heavy cream

100 ml coffee liqueur

Pinch salt

About 1 1/2 ounces butter, softened, en pomade

Mascarpone Cream "Froth", recipe follows

Cocoa, for garnish

Pate Sucree:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Creme d'amandes:

About 9 ounces butter

About 18 ounces almond paste (50 percent almond 50 percent sugar)

3 eggs

About 1-ounce pastry cream powder or cornstarch

30 ml rum or brandy

Mascarpone Cream "Froth":

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

2 ounces softened butter

Powdered sugar, to sweeten


  1. For the caramel nut pies: Roll dough to 1/4-inch and fit into 4 small flan rings and chill. Combine sugar with enough water to cover in saucepan and place over high heat. Cook sugar to caramel stage (a maple syrup color). Carefully add glucose, cream, milk, salt and walnuts to caramel mixture. Cook the mixture, while stirring, until it is thick like pancake batter. Let the mixture cool. Spread the cooled mixture into the bottom of chilled tartlet shells. Pipe or spread creme d'amandes over the caramel. Bake tarts in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until evenly browned on top. Allow tarts to cool, cut into 4-inch slices and finish with sweetened whipped cream before service.
  2. For the Chocolate Espresso Bonbons: Put the chocolate into a work bowl. Dry roast the espresso beans in a saute pan over a medium flame until a strong coffee aroma is present. Coarsely crush the beans on a cutting board with the bottom of a pan. Make an infusion with the hot espresso beans and cream. Allow the mixture to steep for at least 30 minutes. Strain the cream into a clean pan. Bring the infused cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Gently stir the ganache until the chocolate is incorporated. Let cool slightly. Stir in the coffee liqueur, salt and softened butter. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally. Line coffee cup bonbon molds with tempered chocolate, tapping to make sure molds are lined and have no air bubbles. Once chocolate is set, fill molds with espresso ganache leaving room to seal molds. Seal molds with tempered chocolate, allow to set and remove from molds. Finish bonbon cups with a swirl of mascarpone cream "froth" and dust with cocoa. 

Pate Sucree:

  1. Sift flour and salt together and set aside. Place the butter in a mixer and beat until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating until just incorporated. Add flour mixture all at once until it forms a ball. Fatten dough into a disk and chill.

Creme d'amandes:

  1. In a mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and almond paste until light and fluffy and smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, incorporating fully. Add pastry cream powder or cornstarch and mix to combine. Add rum and brandy.

Mascarpone Cream "Froth":

  1. Blend ingredients together and fit into pastry bag for easy piping.
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