Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Since our last visit to New Jersey, where I bought a bag of Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal flour for $9.99 (a full $5.00 cheaper than the price in New Bern), I've been wanting to try my hand at a frangipane tart. With a handful of peaches left in my fridge, I thought it was time. I was a little nervous. A frangipane tart is a bit of work, and it never really sounded that good to me. Almond paste and fruit? What a strange combination, or so I thought. I should have realized that, as a French dessert, it would have to be good. Bob was nice enough to print a frangipane recipe on the back of his almond meal bag. But his recipe uses puff pastry, and I wanted to make my own. So I decided to use the standard gallette dough recipe for the pastry. I had my own idea on how to put the peaches together, so instead of using someone else's recipe, I made my own.

I must now give my eternal thanks to the Marquis Muzio Frangipani for creating a perfume, made of bitter almonds, to scent the gloves of Louis XII. It's supposedly what inspired local patisseries to create the cream (made with milk, sugar, flour, eggs, butter and ground almonds) that we know as frangipane (or at least that's the story that's circulating on the internet). Frangipane beautifully complements fruit, especially stone fruits -- apples, peaches, plums, cherries and pears; and I am a born-again convert to frangipane. This dessert is rich and delicious, especially served with ice cream. There was a little bit left over from our dinner and I ate it the next day, cold, with just as much gusto as when it was freshly baked. I highly recommend this recipe.

One word of caution: always use the best quality fresh fruit available. If the fruit doesn't taste good when it's fresh, it won't taste good when it's baked.

Peach Frangipane Tart
Rating: 10 out of 10

Gallette Dough: 
1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, very cold or frozen, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. ice water

In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt, pulsing briefly till mixed. Add butter and pulse at intervals until mixture is like coarse meal, with the butter in tiny pieces no bigger than small peas. Add 1/4 cup ice water and pulse till mixture forms into a ball. If needed, add the extra Tbsp. water, but be sure you really need it. If you add too much the mixture will be too sticky. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.  Roll out about 3/4 of the dough to an 11" circle on a floured board.  (Use remaining dough for an individual tart.)  Fit into a removable-bottom tart pan, pressing dough up the sides of the pan. Let the dough hang over the edges just slightly, and crimp the edges over the outside of the pan so that the dough will not shrink when baked. Refrigerate.

Frangipane: (enough for 2 tarts -- you can freeze one half for later)
1/4 cup butter, very soft
1/2 cup confectioner's (10X) sugar
1/8 tsp. almond extract
3/4 cup almond meal flour
1 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large egg

Beat together the butter and sugar till fluffy and light in a medium bowl. Add extract, almond meal, and AP flour and beat till smooth. Beat in the egg till everything is mixed well. Set aside.

Peach Filling:
1 Tbsp. butter
3 cups fresh or frozen peaches
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. almond liqueur
1/4 cup apricot spreadable fruit or preserves (or peach jam)

Melt butter in large heavy skillet. Add peaches and sugar and cook over medium heat till peaches are just barely soft, about 5 minutes. Remove peaches to a 9" pie plate in a single row to cool. Add almond liqueur, lemon juice and fruit preserves to skillet with remaining juices and cook till thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Assembly:  Preheat oven to 400F. Spread 1/2 of the frangipane over the bottom of the refrigerated pastry crust. Lay the peaches in a concentric circle over the top of the frangipane. Spoon the cooled syrup over the peaches evenly. Bake 20-25 minutes or till filling is bubbly and crust is browned. (If crust browns too quickly on edges, cover with foil.) Trim edges of pastry that were crimped over the outside of the pan. Serve with creme fraiche, ice cream or whipped cream. Yield: 8 servings

No comments: