I've had a short but intense love affair with frangipane, otherwise known as almond pastry cream. I can't remember the first time I had it--either at my first bakery job, where we made Cherry Frangipane Galettes, or perhaps it was on vacation with my family a few months prior to starting that job. Either way, it was about two years ago, and I've been hooked ever since. With almond paste at its base, it is similar in flavor to almond macaroons, (which happen to be my favorite cookies), but with a denser, richer texture. My favorite uses for frangipane are in tarts and galettes (rustic tarts), embellished with seasonal fruits of choice. I've made this tart several times in the winter with ginger poached pears, but for the summer, I love a combination of stone fruits and berries. A few weeks ago a dinner with friends gave me the opportunity to make this favorite dessert again.
I am a fan of all things Martha [Stewart], and her recipe has been my go-to since I discovered this delicious dessert. A basic pate sucree crust can be prepared up to a day ahead of time. The crust is pre-baked in a tart pan; the frangipane can be prepared while the tart shell cools. I've streamlined her fussy crust baking method just a bit--I think the results are probably comparable. You definitely need to start early in the day to allow sufficient time for chilling and cooling at the various stages, but it's not too hard to execute, and certainly worth the effort....At least that's what I gathered from the second helpings accepted all around!
Frangipane Tart With Seasonal Fruit (Adapted from MarthaStewart.com)
Makes one 10-inch tart
For the Crust:
* 1 large egg yolk
* 2 Tablespoons ice water
* 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
* 4 ½ teaspoons sugar
* Large pinch of fine salt
* 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the Filling:
* 7 ounces almond paste (¾ cup packed)
* ¼ cup (50 grams) sugar
* ¼ teaspoon fine salt
* 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
* 2 large eggs, at room temperature
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* ⅓ cup cake flour (AP will do in a pinch)
* 4 small fresh stone fruits, such as plums or apricots, quartered
* 1 cup of berries, such as raspberries or fancy jarred cherries, such as Trader Joe's Morello Cherries
The Final Touch (optional):
* 2 Tablespoons apricot preserves
* 1 Tablespoon water
1. To make the pate sucree, lightly beat together egg yolk and ice water in a small bowl or measuring cup until combined.
2. To the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, add the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse a few times until they're combined. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 20 seconds. With machine running, add yolk mixture through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream. Process until mixture just begins to hold together (no longer than 30 seconds).
3. Dump the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and carefully remove the blade. Using your hands, press the dough into a disk about six inches in diameter and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
4. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Roll out dough to a 13-inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick. Gently east the dough into a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, being careful not to stretch it (otherwise it'll just shrink up in the oven. Fold excess dough into the side of pan, or use it to patch any uneven areas. Press dough into pan, making sure side is of an even thickness and dough comes up slightly over edge. Using your thumb, press around edge of dough in pan so that dough extends just slightly above rim of pan (to help minimize shrinkage). Prick bottom with fork, and freeze until completely firm, 20 minutes.
5. Place the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet, and line tart shell with parchment or aluminum foil sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Press the liner deep into corners of pan so it is flush with dough, leaving 3 inches overhang; fold overhang over dough edge so that it is not exposed. Fill with pie weights, dried beans, or pennies, and bake until edge begins to turn golden, about 30-40 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove weights and parchment or foil.
6. Let cool on a wire rack 30 minutes. In the meantime, make the filling:
7. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, put the almond paste, sugar, and salt. Beat them at medium speed until the mixture forms small clumps. Beat in butter on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until fully incorporated each time, then add vanilla. Scrape down bowl, and beat in flour until just combined.
8. Return tart shell to baking sheet. Using an offset spatula or the back of a large spoon, spread frangipane into cooled tart shell. Top with the cut fruit and scatter with the berries. Bake until frangipane is puffed and golden and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool 15 minutes.
9. To finish (optional): Heat preserves and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until preserves are melted. Pour through a fine sieve into a small bowl, and lightly brush tart with strained preserves. Let tart cool completely.
This tart is best served the same day, although I'm told second day leftovers are still pretty tasty.