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Author Notes: A tomato dessert may sound crazy, but inspiration struck when my husband dusted some table sugar on freshly cut tomatoes. They were incredible! While hard to describe, they tasted more like tomatoes than ever before as the sugar brought out their natural sweetness. So when branching out from the classic strawberry pie, I roasted grape tomatoes and strawberries with a little honey, then spread the compote over a pâte sucrée. For added texture and floral notes, I covered it with an elderflower frangipane. The result was a sweet, slightly tart filling sandwiched between a crisp, buttery crust and a chewy, floral cake. It was somewhat reminiscent of a linzer torte, but still unlike anything I'd had before. It has since become a new summer staple!
Notes: This recipe calls for par-baking the tart shell. While not always advocated, I prefer this method because it ensures against a raw bottom. The shell can be par-baked a day in advance, and the compote filling and frangipane can also be made the day before. Just allow the fillings to come to room temperature before adding them to the shell.
Credits: The crust and basic frangipane are from Hungry Rabbit's French Plum Tart at www.hungryrabbitnyc.com. The fruit filling and flavor profile used here are original.
Photos by Ruth Eileen Photography for the author in partnership with The School of Styling. —Helena | Heritage Organic Cakes
Makes one 9-inch tart
Pâte Sucrée (Crust)
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes & chilled
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined, then set aside.
- Pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt in food processor about five times until combined. Add the chilled butter cubes and continue to pulse in one-second intervals until combined with the dough in pea-sized crumbs. Then add the egg mixture and continue to pulse until just combined. If the dough looks a bit loose in the bowl but easily comes together when squeezed in your hand, it's ready.
- Gather the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least an hour in the refrigerator. You can also store it for a few days in the fridge until you're ready.
- When ready to par-bake the crust, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the dough from the fridge and let it slightly soften for about 10-20 minutes depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The dough should still be cold and JUST soft enough to roll out when applying firm pressure.
- Dust some flour on a work surface and your rolling pin, then roll out the dough to until it's 1/4 inch thick (it should be at least 12 inches in diameter). Working quickly yet gently, fold the dough circle in half, then again in quarters and set it into a 9 inch, ungreased tart pan so that the point of the dough wedge is in the center of the pan. Gently unfold the dough package so that it covers the entire pan, and press together any cracks that may have formed. Without stretching the dough, carefully press it into the corners and fluted edges of the tart pan allowing the excess to hang over the edge. If any holes or cracks appear, you can press them together or fill them in with some of the excess dough. Be sure to apply even pressure to the dough, otherwise the thickness may vary inside the pan.
- Place the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes to chill before baking. As with pies and some cookies, the fat must be cold when it enters the oven. Once chilled, dock the crust all over using a fork or toothpick. Then gently place a large sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper over it, and fill the covered pan with pie weights or dried beans in order to weigh the crust down while baking. Otherwise, it will puff up too much.
- Transfer the pan to a cookie sheet and par-bake on the center oven rack for about 15 minutes, until the edge of the parchment/foil can be lifted without pulling up any of the crust with it. Don't try to remove the parchment/foil beforehand - it could tear your crust! Remove the pan from the oven and gently remove the parchment/foil and weights. The center of the crust will still look undercooked and glossy. Return the pan to the oven and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes or so, until the surface just begins to dry out but before the crust takes on too much color. Remember, you'll be baking the crust once more with filling added, so it shouldn't already have turned golden brown.
- Set the crust (in the pan) on a wire rack to cool. It will likely have puffed up a little after you removed the pie weights, but it should deflate as it cools.
- You can par bake the crust up to one day in advance. If you leave it out overnight, just lay some plastic wrap on top to protect it (only once it has fully cooled).
Fruit Compote & Frangipane Fillings
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled & quartered
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons almond paste
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons elderflower syrup (e.g. D'arbo)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup apricot jam
- 1 handful additional sliced strawberries for decoration (optional)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons coarse granulated or nib sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On an parchment or foil-lined baking sheet, drizzle the strawberries and tomatoes with honey and toss to coat. Roast for 40 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the fruits have caramelized and broken down into a thick, chunky compote. Set aside to cool in a bowl. This can be made the day before if stored overnight in the fridge.
- Reduce the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Using a food processor, process together the almond meal, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined. And the butter, and continue to process until combined. Add the eggs and process until combined. Repeat with the almond paste and extract, 1 tsp of the elderflower syrup, and finally the flour, processing until just combined. If you're not squeamish about raw eggs, taste the mixture and decide whether or not it needs the additional 1/2 teaspoon of elderflower syrup (to each his own). If so, add and pulse until combined. Then, pour the mixture into a bowl and set aside. This can be made the day before if stored overnight in the fridge.
- In a small bowl, microwave the apricot jam for a few seconds until the consistency has thinned, then brush half of the mixture over the base of the cooled tart shell. Use just enough to cover the crust so that the jam provides a seal between the crust and the wet compote.
- Using a spatula, spread the room temperature strawberry-tomato compote over the crust in an even layer. Then cover the compote with the room temperature frangipane mixture, adding just enough to fill the shell. There may be a little left over - that's okay. Just don't overfill the shell, and remember that the filling will puff up a bit while baking.
- Optional - Gently press the sliced strawberries into the frangipane mixture forming a ring and allowing them to overlap slightly. This isn't necessary, but it adds a bright pop of color to the finished tart.
- Place the tart pan on top of a cookie sheet and bake on your oven's center rack until the crust is golden brown and the frangipane is puffed and golden, about 40 minutes. Since the crust was par-baked, the edges may start to brown too soon. If this happens, remove the pan from the oven and cover the edges with a crust protector (like a silicone ring) or aluminum foil. Then return to the oven and continue to bake until the frangipane is golden.
- Place the tart (still in the pan) on a wire rack to cool. Meanwhile, add the water to the remaining apricot jam and microwave for a few seconds until thinned. Stir and gently brush onto the top of the warm tart. Optional: sprinkle with the coarse sugar for added texture.
- Allow the tart to cool completely before removing it from the pan. To remove, gently place the pan on top of a narrower object (e.g. a large can of tomatoes or a cereal bowl). Allow the pan's outer ring to fall away from the base, then bring your serving plate or cake stand close. Using a cake lifter or a large, thin spatula, lift the tart from the metal base and carefully slide it onto the cake stand or plate. But if it looks like the tart has stuck to the metal base of the tart pan, just leave it! If you try to pry it off, the tart will likely break apart. If you do leave the metal base underneath the tart, just be careful when slicing it so as not to scratch the pan. Enjoy!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Tart