Pignoli Tart with Mascarpone Crema

Cynthia DePersio

Bar Cara, Bloomfield, NJ; Fascino, Montclair, NJ; and Nico Kitchen + Bar, Newark, NJ

The nutty filling for this tart is inspired by Italian pignoli cookies and classic French frangipane.


  • Sablé Crust:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Small pinch kosher salt
  • Pine Nut Filling:
  • 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature, divided
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature  
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Mascarpone Crema:
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone


Make the sablé crust: combine the flour, butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a food processor. Process until a crumbly dough forms. Form the mixture into a ball, wrap in plastic, flatten to a disk, and chill overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Break the dough into 1/2-inch pieces and press them evenly into an 8-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. The crust should be about 1/4-inch thick. Freeze until solid, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Bake the crust on sheet pan until golden brown and no longer wet looking, about 15 minutes. (Don’t worry if the crust puffs slightly—it will fall back.) Let the crust cool completely while you make the tart filling.

Toast the almonds and pine nuts in separate baking pans, about 10 minutes for the almonds and 5 minutes for the pine nuts. Remove and let cool for 30 minutes. Keep the oven temperature at 350ºF.

In a food processor, grind the nuts with 1/4 cup of sugar just until finely ground and sandy. (Do not grind the mixture any further or it will turn into a paste.) Add the flour and pulse to combine. Add one of the eggs and process just to blend.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and remaining sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add the remaining egg and beat until fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the nut mixture and mix on low speed until combined.
Spoon enough nut mixture into the prepared crust so that it's just level with the inside edge. (You may have leftover filling.) Bake until golden brown and puffed in the center, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and let cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack.

While the tart cools, make the mascarpone crema: in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix just to blend. Add the mascarpone and mix on medium speed until smooth.

To serve, cut the warm tart into slices. Top each slice with the spoonful of mascarpone crema.


One 8-inch tart