12 March 2010

date night: frangipane tart

a couple of weekends ago, kevin and i had ourselves a little date night. it had been a while since we got dressed up a bit and just spent the night eating, enjoying each others company, eating, and hitting the town. with a delicious homemade meal and tickets to see a performance by the martha graham dance company, it was truly one of my favorite date nights in a long time. To me, nothing compares to staying home, eating great food, and drinking good wine. I'll pass on a restaurant meal for that almost any day (depending on the restaurant, of coure ;-)).
it had been quite some time since i baked some sugary goodness (why? i have no idea why!!), vegetables have infiltrated my kitchen and they won't leave. the sugar has been patiently waiting its revival. in fact, it's still itching to get out, even after making this beauty of a tart. i might just have to succumb to its power once again this weekend. anyway, for our date night, i knew i wanted to do something special, so i scanned some old copies of gourmet for inspiration and found this recipe in my november 2009 issue. it seemed just right for the occasion, and indeed, it was perfection.
i altered the recipe a little, upping the almond extract and using my own recipe for crust. i found the grapes in the original recipe to be... good but not great. i really wanted to just eat around them. they did add a refreshing quality to the tart, but really, i didn't love them. i would certainly eat it again with the grapes, but personally, next time i make this, im keeping it all almond. those few bites that i got without the grapes, took me back to Milan, where I'm certain i had a tart just like this one. i remember the restaurant, and eating pasta with some house wine, but i remember the taste of this tart most of all from that meal. in my memory of things, this recipe is spot on. 

frangipane tart

Pastry dough
1 c chopped blanched almonds, toasted
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c flour
dash of salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/3 c sliced almonds
confectioner's sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface to fit your tart pan. Fit dough into pan and allow excess to hang over edges. Fold excess inwards and press into the sides of the pan. Lightly prick the bottom all over with a fork, and chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Line shell with foil and pie weights (I use dried beans). Bake until sides are pale golden, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake until bottom is golden, about 10 minutes more. Cool completely.

Pulse blanched almonds with 1/4 c sugar in food process until finely ground. Add flour and salt and pulse to combine. Beat butter and 1/4 c sugar in the bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, and beating well after each addition, then beat in extracts. On low speed, mix in almond mixture until just combined.

Spread filling in bottom of tart shell and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake until filling is puffed and golden brown 30-40 minutes. If shell begins to brown too much, cover crust with foil. When done, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar while still hot. Let cool completely and serve.

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