For the Crust:
About 3/4 cup whole hazelnuts (unskinned)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
12 tablespoons cold butter, cut in pieces
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Filling:
1/3 cup sugar
1 pint strawberries, rinsed if necessary, hulled, puréed, and strained (to yield 1 cup), and then chilled
1 cup well-chilled heavy cream
1/2 cup mascarpone
Very small or quartered strawberries, rinsed and hulled
TO MAKE THE CRUST: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Pulse the hazelnuts in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the sugar and flour and pulse to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and process until the dough just comes together.
Lightly flour your fingertips and press the dough into a 9-inch springform pan. Gently make a large depression in the center of the dough to create about a 1/2-inch rim all the way around the edge of the crust. Bake the crust until puffed, lightly browned, and a pick comes out with just a few crumbs, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool completely on rack. Slide a knife around the edges of the pan before removing the sides of the pan. Slide a spatula under the crust to loosen it, and then remove the crust from the bottom of the pan.
TO MAKE THE FILLING: Stir the sugar into the strawberry purée and return the mixture to the refrigerator. Whip the cream until it forms firm peaks. In a separate bowl, whisk one-quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone and then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Gently fold in the chilled purée. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. The filling will firm up as it chills.
TO ASSEMBLE: Gently spoon the chilled filling into the torte shell. Don’t level the filling, leave it looking free-form and scatter the small or quartered strawberries across the top. Cut into wedges and serve.
Makes 8 servings.
Date: January 12, 2003