Friday, July 3, 2009

169. Frangipane Tart with Strawberries and Raspberries (p. 778)

It's strawberry season, and my go-to source for locally-grown produce, Mann Orchards, has been carrying beautiful fresh strawberries lately (the smallish, vibrantly red ones, not those humongous white-fleshed genetically-altered monstrosities that they sell at the mega-mart). I bought a few pints and went straight to The Book to find a good strawberry dessert and decided on this recipe.

The last strawberry tart I made, from Julia Child's MtAoFC, had a sweet, sugar-cookie-like crust and was filled with pastry cream. This tart, however has a Basic Pastry Dough crust and a frangipane filling. Frangipane, an almond-flavored pastry filling, is named after a 16th century Italian nobleman, the Marquis Muzio Frangipani, who was famous for his almond-scented glove purfume. Glove purfume? Really?

First, I made the tart shell. I rolled out the dough, fit it into a removable-bottomed fluted tart pan, and ran the rolling pin over the pan's rim to make a nice edge. (I actualy had to roll out the dough twice. For some reason, it fell apart the first time. I decided to ball the dough up and start over again. Worked out much better on the second try.) The Book says to put the tart shell in the refrigerator for an hour to chill it. I was in a hurry, so I put it in the freezer for ten minutes (same thing, right?). I pricked the tart shell with a fork, put some foil over it and filled the foil with some dried kidney beans that I use (and reuse) as pie weights. I baked it for a while, removed the foil and weights and baked it for a bit longer. I set the tart shell aside to cool for a bit and made the frangipane.

I beat together some sugar and softened butter in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. That's right, folks, my wife gave me a 5-quart Artisan Series mixer as a tenth-anniversary gift. Sure, she got a diamond ring, but I still think that I made out pretty well. I've wanted a stand mixer for a long time, and I know that I'm going to give it a real workout. Once the butter and sugar were creamed, I added an egg, some almonds that I'd ground up in the food processor, a bit of almond extract, and some flour and salt. (I didn't have any amaretto on hand, so I skipped this optional ingredient.) Once the frangipane was all nicely blended, I spread it in the tart shell. I put the filled tart in the oven and baked it for a while until the frangipane was golden and a little puffy.

Once the tart was cool, I sliced my strawberries and arranged them in concentric circles on top of the frangipane. Finally, I melted some seedless strawberry jam and brushed it on top of the tart. Now, you're probably saying, "this recipe is called Frangipane Tart with Strawberries and Raspberries. Where are the raspberries?" I left them out. You got a problem with that? I'm sure that they would have been delicious, but I really wanted to let my fresh, ripe strawberries be the star of this dessert.

This was a delicious tart. The crust was crisp, flaky and buttery. I was a little concerned that the rolling and re-rolling was going to make it less flaky, but no worries. The frangipane was sweet, rich and almond-y. And the strawberries? Perfect. Nothing better than fresh, local fruit in season.

Date Cooked: June 21, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A-

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