Engadine nut tart is as Swiss as fondue and roesti. It is not only loved by locals and tourists – the tart is also a popular speciality in bakeries from Stockholm to Sydney. Interestingly enough, walnuts do not grow in the Engadine. The frost-sensitive trees do not grow here owing to the cold winter months.

The Giacometti bakery is a fourth-generation family business
The Giacometti bakery has been in Lavin since 1925

So the question has to be asked: is the Engadine tart really a traditional local recipe, or what is the actual story behind its name? The answer lies in the migration movements of the people of Graubünden, who spread out from the late Middle Ages to the 19th century. The confectioners who worked abroad took recipe ideas to far away places, but also brought innovations from other regions home with them upon their return. This is how walnuts arrived in eastern Switzerland – probably from France or Italy. The shortcrust recipe for this tart already existed in the Engadine at the time, then one thing led to another and the caramelized walnuts found their way into this delicious tart.

Secrets from the recipe books

All of this happened a long time ago: historians assume that the first versions of the nut tart were created in the Engadine as early as the 18th century. The recipes were written by hand in closely guarded recipe books. Over the centuries, the various families of confectioners in Graubünden – especially in the Engadine – each developed their own recipes, which have been preserved over time and changed only minimally from generation to generation.

From Lavin to the world

One of the most traditional and popular locations for the tart is the Giacometti bakery in Lavin. The baked goods are sold on site – locals and travellers alike enjoy the tart inside or at the tables on the terrace, which offers a fantastic view of the valley. The tasty treats can also be ordered online – deliveries reach as far as Canada and Japan. And that's not all: for many Swiss, the aroma of the Giacometti tart is the true taste of the Engadine nut tart. This could be because Coop has been working together with the Giacomettis for over ten years – the sweet treat, which is baked here at 1,435 metres above sea level, can now be found throughout Switzerland under the Fine Food label at Coop.

The idyllic village of Lavin am Inn has just over 200 residents, and perfectly corresponds to our idea of what Switzerland would once have been like: mountain panoramas, a rushing stream, green meadows and friendly, nature-loving locals who live in charming old houses.

From the cafe terrace you can see far off into the distance of the Engadine valley.
What a view from the cafe terrace!

The majority of the residents speak Vallader, a regional variant of Romansh. Cake master Arthur married into this tradition-steeped family of confectioners and is now managing the company in its fourth generation. Arthur also took over the family recipe. If world-famous sculptor Alberto Giacometti is the first person you think of when you hear the name "Giacometti", then you are not far off – he is from a different line in the family.

The caramel for the Graubünden nut tart is made with honey
Ivo peers into the pans where honey is being gently heated for the caramel
Arthur shares a few key tips regarding preparation
Precision: Arthur measures the temperature of the caramel
The filling is ready and poured into the tart case
Filling the pastry case is a special part of the preparation

Engadine nut tart done differently

Ivo takes the opportunity to create his own tart recipe
Full of fresh inspiration, Ivo makes his own nut tart in the Giacometti bakery

Challenging a classic item of food which counts among many people’s childhood memories is not an easy task. This is especially true in the case of the Engadine nut tart. But for top chef Ivo, this just makes the challenge even more exciting. How can we modernize the flavour and tap into the current food trends with the tart?

Ivo has given this much thought and developed a recipe. He has come to the conclusion that it's subtle changes that really make a difference. One key idea in Ivo's new recipe is to add salt flakes to the tart filling. This harmonizes beautifully with the caramel and the interplay of sweet and salty meets contemporary tastes.

The master chef has another trick too: add a little allspice. The peppery flavour should be noticeable but in no way dominant. Ivo's final trick is to add pine nuts to the walnuts. He would really like to use the cedar nuts that grow locally in Graubünden, but these are protected, so pine nuts will do. They develop a great flavour when they are toasted briefly beforehand with the walnuts – and they make the tart look interesting when it is cut open, too.

Ivo is happy with his minor changes. The nut tart with a pastry topping is still an Engadine nut tart, but a modern version. Ivo's tart is not only popular with foodies on the search for something new, but it does not frighten off traditionalists either. One person who can really judge gives him the thumbs up – Arthur loves Ivo's nut tart.

The experts sample Ivo's tart on the beautiful terrace
Ivo Adam
Ivo Adam
A culinary multi-talent – with big plans

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