Robert Nieto, Pastry Chef
Jackson Family Wines

A native of Texas, Robert received his cooking and baking certificate from Del Mar Community College. His first job was at the Corpus Christi Country Club as a line cook, but he always had a thing for sweets—so, the Pastry Chef there worked side-by-side with him to teach him the fundamentals of pastries and baking.  Robert then headed west to Las Vegas to work in 5-star hotels, such as: Bellagio, Paris Las Vegas and the Venetian. Robert finally got his break by landing a job as Pastry Sous Chef at world-renowned Chef Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro. He was then given the opportunity to move to Napa Valley as the Pastry Chef of Bouchon Bistro and Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. Robert then moved to Sonoma County to work at Michelin starred restaurant, Madrona Manor, run by Executive Chef Jesse Mallgren.  It was here that Robert explored molecular gastronomy that could add texture to his desserts. Robert joined Jackson Family Wines (where he is affectionately known as “Buttercup”) as Pastry Chef in 2012. Buttercup is always on the lookout for new innovations that complement the wines. When he’s not busy creating delicious desserts, Buttercup enjoys competing in triathlons, running marathons and mountain biking.

Jackson Family Wines is a family owned collection of luxury wines. We also have a restaurant and tasting room in Healdsburg, California, Partake by K-J, specializing n pairing wine and food. Our cuisine is based around seasonal ingredients from our estate garden.


Cherry Tomato Frangipane Tart with Balsamic-Caramel Sauce & Whipped Crème Fraîche

Serves 8

For the tart:
½ cup almond paste
½ cup sugar
¼ cup butter
¼ cup cake flour
1 egg
3 cups cherry tomatoes

Preheat oven to 325ᵒF.

In a standard mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream almond paste and sugar until soft. Place on low speed and add butter. Cream mixture until butter is fully incorporated. Add flour and mix for 1 minute. While mixer is running on low speed, slowly add egg and mix well. Pipe mixture into eight greased 3-inch tart pans and arrange 8 cherry tomatoes on top. Bake for 18 minutes. Let cool on rack before unmolding.

For the balsamic-caramel sauce:
¾ cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp. salt

In a small pot, bring cream just to a boil and remove from heat. Set aside until ready to use.

Meanwhile, place a medium pot on moderate heat for 2 minutes. Gently sprinkle in ⅓ cup sugar. Sugar will begin to dissolve, stir occasionally. Once sugar has melted, add another ⅓ cup and repeat the same process. Once sugar has melted, repeat with remaining sugar and cook until amber in color. Stir in butter and mix well. Deglaze sugar with heavy cream. Do this carefully as it will splash up. Continue cooking for 2 minutes. Strain mixture. Whisk in balsamic and salt.

For the whipped crème fraîche:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup crème fraîche
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a standard mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until soft peaks. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve:
1 cup Greek basil
½ cup pine nuts, toasted

Place a spoonful of caramel sauce onto serving plate. Arrange cherry frangipane tart on top. Pipe crème fraîche on tart and around plate. Garnish with Greek basil and pine nuts.


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