For the crust: Prepare the Foolproof Shortcrust Pastry as indicated in the recipe, then roll out to a 15-inch (38 cm) circle and transfer to a round baking sheet covered with parchment paper (a rectangular baking sheet works too, but excess dough will overhang.) Refrigerate for 1 hour. (If you made the shortcrust pastry in advance, take it back to room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes, then roll out to a 15-inch (38 cm) circle. Transfer to a round baking sheet covered with parchment paper and keep going with the recipe—no need to refrigerate again.)
For the hazelnut financier base: To make the brown butter, heat the butter in a small stainless steel saucepan over medium heat until completely melted and simmering. Keep on cooking over low heat, swirling the pot from time to time. If the butter bubbles up preventing you from watching closely over the color changing (that’s the water evaporating), lift the pot off the heat for a few seconds until the bubbles recede, then put back on the heat. The butter is ready when the milk solids at the bottom of the pot turn a light brown color and the concoction gives off a delicious hazelnut aroma. When it does, remove the butter from the heat, pour in a small bowl, and let cool completely.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ground hazelnuts, flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt (if using). Add the egg whites and whisk until incorporated and the mixture is thick and sticky. Mix in the brown butter. At this point, the batter can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Bring back to room temperature 30-45 minutes before using.
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
For the strawberries: In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, granulated sugar, and lemon zest. Set aside.
To assemble: Using a small silicon spatula or an offset spatula, spread the hazelnut financier batter over the rolled-out shortcrust pastry, leaving a 3-inch (7.5 cm) border all around. Cover with the strawberries. Bring the edges of the dough up and over the filling, creasing it and gently pressing it down onto the filling as you go. Once the whole border is folded, gently press own on the center of the strawberry filling to push the fruit well into the fold.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the dough with milk, then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the fruits are bubbly. Transfer to a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
Garnish as desired with toasted hazelnuts, grated lemon zest, and basil leaves. Serve with vanilla gelato, ice cream, or whipped cream.
If you can't find ground hazelnuts, you can use toasted and peeled hazelnuts instead. Make sure to weight them to get the right quantity (2.5 oz/70 g), and put them together with the flour in a mini food processor, or a regular food processor. Grinding the nuts with the flour will prevent them from turning into butter. When the nuts are finely ground, return the hazelnut-flour mixture to a mixing bowl and continue the recipe as instructed.
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