Torta Della Nonna Recipe

Gina de Palma is the reigning queen of Italian sweets (her book Dolce Italiano belongs on every baker’s shelf) so whenever I get a request for something Italian, I go to her first. Her recipe for torta della nonna is straight-up traditional, but when you combine it with her trademark citrus-infused pasta frolla, it’s something of a show-stopper. You’ll need:

1 recipe pasta frolla
16 ounces (2 cups) whole milk
2 3-inch long strips fresh lemon zest
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
2.5 ounces (scant 1/3 cup) sugar
4 egg yolks
pinch kosher salt
1.25 ounces (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon soft butter
2.5 ounces (1/2 cup) pine nuts, toasted and cooled

Roll the dough out to a circle about 11 inches across. It should be about 1/8 inch thick. Press the dough into a 9 inch springform pan. Chill the dough for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Next prepare the filling. Combine the milk, lemon peel, vanilla bean seeds and half the sugar in a medium saucepan. Set it over medium heat.

While the milk mixture is heating combine the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a medium bowl with the salt. When the milk begins to boil, which the flour into the yolk mixture, then add about two tablespoons of the hot milk mixture. Whisk it all together, then steadily whisk in the rest of the hot milk. Pour the whole mess back into the saucepan and bring it to a simmer, and cook about a minute, until it is quite thick. Pour the filling through a strainer into a medium bowl and lay on a sheet of plastic wrap to keep a skin from forming.

Next, par-bake the shell. Lay parchment paper into the springform pan and add pie weights, dry beans or loose change to help the crust keep its shape. Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the parchment and the weights. Bake another 5-7 minutes until the crust is lightly browned.

Remove the crust from the oven, allow it to cool about 10 minutes, and pour the filling into the warm shell. Smooth the top, allow it to cool completely, then place the tart in the refrigerator to chill.

When ready to serve, de-pan the tart and sprinkle with pine nuts. Guild the lily by adding berries or chocolate shavings.

8 thoughts on “Torta Della Nonna Recipe”

  1. Hi Joe, it seems a pretty yummy recipe!
    unless that…I am used to know “torta della nonna” as a sort of a pie, usually there is pasta frolla below and above the pastry cream filling, pine nuts are spread over the upper pasta frolla layer. Main difficulty is the optimal cooking of the bottom pasta frolla layer, cooking it alone makes it easier, that’s a good reason to try your recipe!

  2. I love her recipes, I use her Baci di Dama recipe from Babbo for part of my Christmas cookie-gifting. I hope she’s doing well after her surgery…

  3. I am currently making a cook book and would like to use some of your images to liven up the pages. Do i have your permission to do this? Google chrome viewed me your images which led me to your site. thank you for your time. reply asap. Thanks, 902 384 2699 or email.

    1. Use anything you’d like, Maxine! If you need larger photos I may be able to supply them for projects after about 2011.

      – Joe

  4. I’m making this right now.

    The recipe doesn’t say when to add the butter but I’m guessing after the custard is strained?

    p.s. I love your blog. It’s the kind of blog I’ve always wanted to write. 🙂

    1. Thank you very much. But if you want to write one like this…now’s your chance! 😉


      – Joe

  5. I had about twice the amount of dough than I needed to get an 11 inch disc 1/8 inch thick. Is there supposed to be a top crust too?

    1. Hi Porche!

      Yes I think that’s correct…but I have yet to test it! Sorry about that. I sort of dropped everything in mid stream. How did it turn out?

      – Joe

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