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Today: Make a crust and some filling, top it with your favorite seasonal fruit, and you've got fancy-looking frangipane tarts.
Frangipane tarts are one of those classic French desserts that sound super fancy, but are actually pretty simple to make at home, and you can adapt them to any season. To keep things extra easy, I like to start with a simple tart dough that can be pressed into the pan (or pans, if tartlets are your thing), then I fill the pre-baked tart shell with rich frangipane cream made from ground almonds held together with a bit of butter, eggs, and sugar.
When it bakes, the frangipane puffs up and turns golden brown, enveloping whatever type of fruit you’ve decided to top it with. Dust the whole thing with a shower of powdered sugar, and you’ve got a gorgeous and super impressive dessert.
Because frangipane is fairly neutral in flavor, you can top these tarts with just about any fruit you like. In the spring, strawberries or little bits of poached rhubarb would be nice; in the summer try berries, sliced plums, peaches, or half of a small apricot; and in the fall and winter, feel free to use thinly sliced apples or poached pears or quince. You can even substitute pistachios, hazelnuts, or cashews for the almonds if you're feeling especially fancy.
For the Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons cold water
In the bowl of a food processor (or using a pastry blender), combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the yolk and pulse until it is evenly distributed. Pulse in the cold water until the dough starts to hold together.
Lightly butter your tart pan or pans and gently press the dough into the pan. Make sure to evenly coat the bottom and sides. You may have a bit of extra dough; save it just in case you have to repair any cracks later on. Freeze the tart shell(s) for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 375° F and bake the tart shell -- no need for pie weights -- until it is lightly golden. If the shell puffs up while baking, carefully use an offset spatula to gently press it back into the pan. Use your leftover dough to repair any cracks that may have formed during baking. Cool the shell on a rack while you prepare the rest of the tart.
For the Frangipane and Garnish
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup ground almonds (blanched or unblanched)
1 egg, plus one egg white
2 teaspoons flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
Berries or sliced fruit, for garnish
Powdered sugar, to finish
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the butter and sugar and pulse until smooth. Add the almonds and blend until well combined. Then add the flour and cornstarch, followed by the egg and egg white, and finally the vanilla extract and salt. Mix until just combined.
When you're ready to assemble and bake your tart(s), preheat the oven to 350° F. Spread the frangipane into the cooled tart shell or shells; it should come up just below the edge. Depending on the height of your tart shells, you may have a couple of spoonfuls of frangipane left over. Decorate the top of each tartlet or tart with a couple of berries or slices of plum arranged in a decorative pattern.
Place the tart or tartlets on a baking sheet and bake until the crust and frangipane are golden and set, 20 to 30 minutes for tartlets and 45 to 50 minutes for a large tart. Cool on a wire rack and dust with confectioner's sugar just before serving.
Photos by Yossy Arefi