9 In Desserts/ Italian Inspired

Italian Custard Tart: Torta di Nonna

Torta della Nonna
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Torta della Nonna

Italian Custard Tart: Torta di Nonna

  • Author: Carrie Pacini
  • Category: Desserts


Torta di Nonna is an Italian custard tart that is a combination of a rich pastry dough baked with a pine nut custard that taste just like Christmas!

Torta di Nonna translates to “Grandmother’s Cake” and this is my family recipe that I am sharing with you. We always make this dessert during the Christmas Holidays.

Marla came over and we made this dessert together. Her first reaction when she took a bite was “Oh my God, this taste like Christmas”! And it does!



Crust: Pasta Frolla

1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour (sifted)
Pinch of salt
7 tbsp of chilled butter
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon of Potato Starch
12 tbsp of ice water
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp of vanilla extract

Filling: Custard

4 Egg Yolks
1 Cup of Milk
1 Cup of Cream
1/2 Cup of pine nuts
3/4 Cup of Sugar
1/4 Cup of Flour
1 teaspoon of grated Lemon Zest
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract


1. In a large mixing bowl sift the flour
2. Cut the chilled butter into pieces and add to the bowl (use a mixer or if you don’t have one you can simply use a fork)
3. Mix the butter into the mixture until you have a fine crumblike mixture
4. Mix the egg yolk with the water until blended and drizzle over the mixture
5. Add the sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla
6. Continue to stir until the mixture starts to stick together in little lumps
7. Gently press the small lumps of the pastry together using the heel of your hand forming a rough ball
8. Knead gently for a second until smooth and cover with plastic wrap
9. Chill for at least 1 hour if not overnight
10. For the filling in a bowl mix the egg yolks with the sugar and blend
11. In a pot on medium heat add the milk and the cream
12. Next add the mixture of sugar and egg yolks to the pot
13. With a whisk begin to stir in the potato starch, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract
14. Turn heat to high and continue to whisk for about 3 minutes
15. Once it starts to thicken turn the heat on low and add the pine nuts and continue to whisk
16. Take off the heat and let cool for about 30 minutes to room temperature


1. Once the custard is a room temperature fill in the tart and back in the oven at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.

2. When you see the custard start to brown a bit (see pic) take the tart out and let cool before serving.

3. You can also store in the fridge and serve the next day. Just always make sure to bring it up to room temperature!

Keywords: Desserts, Italian Dishes, Tarts, Custard Tart


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  • Reply
    Carolyn Jung
    January 5, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Custard is my weakness. The pine nuts and lemon sound like irresistible additions, too.

  • Reply
    Giulia Stofkoper
    November 26, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I’m curious. Did you bake the tart slightly before adding the custard or all together. I didn’t see anything about what you used to bake the tart nor when you assembled it. Just chilled dough. :/

    • Reply
      Carrie Pacini
      November 27, 2014 at 8:34 am

      Hi Giulia, I baked the crust slightly for about 5 minutes (poke holes in it) then I added the custard and baked it again.

  • Reply
    Terri Manzetti Zeppetella
    February 26, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Where would I find potato starch? I haven’t seen it in any of the grocery stores/specialty stores near my home. I live in AZ

    • Reply
      Carrie Pacini
      February 26, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Hi Terri, I usually find it where they have modified flours. Whole Foods should have it. The brand I see most is Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch.

  • Reply
    November 15, 2015 at 8:56 am

    A volte diamo per scontati i dolci che abbiamo in casa e che per tradizione continuiamo a cucinare. È molto bello vedere tradizioni italiane continuare a vivere in persone che sono lontane e che di generazione in generazione, se le tramandano.

    • Reply
      Carrie Pacini
      November 15, 2015 at 9:10 am

      Grazie Gloria, sei molto gentile.

  • Reply
    May 28, 2016 at 11:03 am

    After step #9, please explain what size pan you use, and when was the tart in the oven, because you state “back in the oven”, when the instructions never said to put the tart in the oven? Also, is the dough refrigerated overnight in the pan, or just in the mixing bowl? Thank you for your help?

    • Reply
      Carrie Pacini
      June 1, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      Hi Elaine, I used a 9″ tart pan. Also I updated it so it clearly states to put the pie crust into the oven instead of using the word “bake”. Also I form the pastry dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. You can leave it this way overnight in the fridge to use the next day or even the day after that. Thanks, Carrie

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