Okay, this tart isn't just any tart. It's a prize winning tart. Last fall, at a Camp Blogaway reunion day, this tart won first prize competing against all the other great treats brought by some of L.A.'s best recipe food bloggers.
I happen to make frangipane tarts a lot from many different fruits depending on the season, and they're all great, but I especially look forward to the very short late summer window when I can get Italian or French prunes to bake with this luscious almond paste filling. And that's one reason I've included it in this special Summer Jazz Sunday Brunch Menu. That- and because prune plums are grown in Sonoma County. For that matter, so are almonds. Funny story- when I think of almonds, I often look back amusedly to when I was a newly arrived Bay Area college student- straight from Los Angeles. I was invited to visit a former neighbor (Marie Colson- a lovely French lady) of my family's from Los Angeles, who had moved to Sonoma County. As Mrs. Colson drove me through Sonoma, she was pointing out things she thought would be interesting. One of those things was the abundant almond trees. I stared at them as we toured, "but where are the almonds" I asked her. She laughed- "oh, Gigi" -yes, that was my childhood nickname, " you are such a city kid". That's when she educated me to the fact that almonds grow in a hull (okay, I'm no horticulturalist) which to me looked like a little sack, or even a not yet mature peach-right?
Regarless of how they grow, I love almond desserts, and this tart is near the top of the list. I hope you'll give it a try.
Plum Frangipane Tart
You’ll need a kitchen digital scale to measure ingredients for the frangipane. Pâte Sucrée (or Sweet Tart Dough in English) : Adapted from Nancy Silverton’s Desserts
1/2 lb. unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Cream butter and sugar together.
2. Add the yolks one at a time, then add the vanilla.
3. Add the flour in 3 additions and blend until thoroughly mixed in.
4. Blend in the cream.
5. Dump the dough out on to a large piece of plastic wrap, and wrap it flattening into a round disk. Then refrigerate it for several hours or overnight.
6. To roll out the dough, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to cool room temperature.
7. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, and roll to a circle about 2” larger than the diameter of the pan, and between 1/8”-1/4” thickness. Then lift the dough and press it into a removable bottom tart pan. Trim the edges of the dough even with the top of the pan.
8. Refrigerate the dough in the pan again for about an hour before adding filling and baking the tart. This step allows the dough to rest and reduces shrinkage.
This recipe is enough for 2- 9” to 10 “ tart shells
1 lb. almond paste**
1.5 oz. granulated sugar
1/2 lb. butter
1.5 oz. flour
1. Combine the almond paste, sugar and butter in the bowl of a mixer and cream until smooth.
2. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, and mix until smooth.
3. Add the flour and blend until thoroughly mixed in.
The frangipane maybe made ahead of time, and refrigerated for several days before using.
* Frangipane is an Italian almond cream filling
** Small tubes of almond paste can be found at better grocery stores. If you're like me and want larger quantities, large cans are available at Surfas and specialty online vendors.
This recipe is enough for 2-9” to 10” tarts
To assemble the tart:
2 tablespoons apricot jam per tart
12-14 French or Italian prune plums, per tart, cut in half and seed removed
1/4 cup Apricot glaze*** or apricot preserves, strained to remove the solid pieces. This is a bit more than you’ll need, but I always warm up a little extra.
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
*** Also, available from Surfas or specialty online pastry suppliers like www.auiswiss.com
Spread the apricot jam on the tart dough, then spread the frangipane on top of it. Place the plums in the frangipane in concentric circles. Bake the tart at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the frangipane begins to brown.
Remove from the oven and let it cool on a wired rack with the sides of the tart pan on for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the sides of the pan, and let the tart cool completely. Then remove the bottom by sliding a long flat knife or spatula under the tart, and slide it onto a flat plate or cardboard circle.
To glaze and decorate the tart:
1. If you use apricot glaze you’ll have to add water, and simmer until it’s dissolved and thinned to a slow pourable consistency. If using the strained apricot jam just heat it.
2. Using a wide pastry brush, lightly brush the glaze over the entire tart.
3. Holding a plate over the tart as a template (it’s easier if you have a second pair of hands for this), sprinkle the toasted almonds around the edge of the tart, then sift powdered sugar over the almonds.