When in Lyon, France, one must try the regional specialty: Tarte aux pralines. These fluorescent red tarts may seem scary at first, but they are actually delicious. The color is actually derived from rose pralines, a Lyonnaise specialty, which are bright pink in color.
In fact, every patisserie I walked into, specialized in incorporating these pralines into numerous pastries, giving them the characteristic red hue. It’s funny how the color red finds it’s way into traditional recipes, for example: Red Velvet cake, my ultimate comfort food.
We stayed with our hosts, Geoffrey and Nadege, a very sweet couple who welcomed us into their beautiful home in the rustic hills of Lyon. It was there that I had the opportunity to make this ultimate Lyonnaise dessert.
I was a bit nervous to make this tart. As I was prepping the ingredients, I was beginning to think that Geoffrey had probably made this recipe 1000 times and here I am, an American girl and former pastry cook with no formal French culinary training, trying to have a “local’s experience” by attempting to help him make this traditional dessert. Oh yeah, and it will be presented to all his friends at his dinner party later that evening.
To my relief, the recipe turned out to be quite simple and it was a hit! Also, he later confessed that it was HIS first time making it too! The filling is made by boiling the pralines with heavy cream. As the sugar from the pralines melts down, it turns the cream from white into bright red. The mixture is then poured into a pre-baked sablé crust. The sweet velvety filling, paired with the delicate crunch of the buttery shortbread crust is just perfect. The appeal of this dessert definitely comes from its striking red color, and the combination of textures.
Geoffrey and Nadege claim that this dessert can be found nowhere else in France. So unless you are in Lyon, and you want to try it, your best bet is to make it. I’ve included the same French recipe we used. I’ve tried my best to translate it into English (purely based on my own memory of making this tart). Also, rose pralines may be a little hard to find. So I’ve substituted them out of the recipe with regular candied pralines, and the addition of red food coloring. Try to find pralines that have a generous coating of sugar. I also thought that the tart could use a nuttier flavor, so feel free to add some toasted notes to the filling.
***Forming a crust can be kind of tricky, stay tuned for my tutorial on how to do it with ease!**
Tarte aux Pralines
For the crust:
250 g all-purpose flour
100 g sugar
130 g butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
For the filling:
500 g candied pralines, cut into pieces.
17 oz heavy cream
Sablé crust: Combine flour and sugar in a bowl. Add chilled butter and combine with hands, breaking up the cubes of butter into the flour. Once most of the butter has been incorporated, take a handful of the mixture and knead it together by rubbing both hands together. (Imagine you are freezing cold and trying to warm your hands by rubbing them together). You should end up with long shreds of dough. In the center, form a well and drop the egg into it. Mix with fingers in a circular motion, breaking up the yolk and slowly incorporating the flour until a dough has formed. Wrap dough in plastic, and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
Take out dough and form into buttered tart pan. Set oven to 325 F and bake for 2o minutes, or until lightly golden brown around the edges. Place on cooling rack.
Praline Filling: Combine pralines and heavy cream in a small pot and bring to a boil. Stirring frequently for about 15 minutes. Be careful not to burn. The mixture will turn bright pink and thicken into a consistency similar to yogurt.
Assembly: Pour cooled filling into cooled pie crust and place in fridge for 2 hours until set. Garnish top with whole pralines.