tartlets-not-innocent Recipes

plum-almond tart

Even haiku-writing food bloggers get in ruts. We fall back on our old crutches–overused commas and em-dashes. We get lazy with our descriptions, referring to too many things as “awakening,” “a revelation,” “succulent,” and/or “meltingly tender.” Cute turns twee as growing things become “veggies” and delicious is replaced with “yummy.” And find that all of our posts follow the same predictable pattern–there was a previous belief, an eye-opener, a tried-it-at-home and a happily-ever-after with a recipe on top. Fine, I’m just talking about myself, but how am I to grow without owning up to my bad habits?

Why air this dirty laundry today? Because I was about to start this entry with “it started out so innocently” but then the five-alarm went off in my head: No. Stop. Alert! Code Red! Backspace! So, although it did, let’s just pretend you know that already. And let us talk about The Tart That Started It All instead.

cherry frangipane tartcherry frangipane tart

Madeleine is a new bakery that I walk by on my way home from work, a refreshing change from the All Cupcakes All The Time that dominates New York bakery scene these days. I prefer a macaron or wee French tart any day over a bland cake with teeth-achingly sweet frosting (though my resolve is known to weaken if that frosting is, say, pink). A few weeks ago, I picked up a small cherry tartlet for Alex and I to split, the type I see often at pastry shops but rarely try and was bowled over to learn the stuff between the cherries tasted exactly like marzipan, and if anyone remembers back this long, they will know that I looove me some marzipan.

tart shellpie weights

Of course, since I had only moderate success with my first marzipan endeavor, I was convinced that such a tart would be very difficult to make, but boy, was I wrong. If possible, it is even easier than a fresh berry tart with pastry cream, and although I wouldn’t dare play favorites, I do expect that my next several tart endeavors will have a ground almond padding around the bruleed fruit. In this case, the fruit was plums but as the apples and pears roll in, you better believe they’ll be next in line.
Oh, and by the way? It never starts innocently. What fun would that be?

plum-almond tartletsplum-almond tartletsplum-almond tartletsplum-almond tartlets

On Serious Eats: 5 Ways To Green Up Your Kitchen with no shame or mockery!

Aaargh! Despite apparently moving this here Kitchen to a bigger server last week, this site, as some have noticed, has been up and down and up and down for the last couple weeks. Some of the problems have been on the specific server itself, some–like yesterday and today–have been Dreamhost network-wide. Nonetheless, I’ve had enough and will be shopping for a more reliable hosting service next week. Harrumph!

Napa, Baby: Tomorrow morning, off we go! I am hoping to depart from the usual text-heavy nature of posts and slap some pictures and notes up here throughout the weekend. I really want you to see everything as immediately as we get to, because really, it’s the least you deserve for sending us on this awesome trip. However, if we’re too busy or exhausted, I have Jocelyn and her E-Z Bake Oven on stand-by. You have no idea how much she wants to bake you cookies.

Plum-Almond Tart
Adapted from Bon Appetit, October 1998

Makes 1 9-inch tart or 8 4-inch mini-tartlets

For crust
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons ice water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For filling
1/3 cup whole almonds (about 2 ounces)
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons framboise (raspberry liqueur) or brandy
12 ounces ripe red-skinned plums, pitted, cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges
1/4 cup red currant jelly

Whipped cream (optional)

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine first 3 ingredients in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix 2 tablespoons ice water and vanilla in small bowl. Pour water mixture over dough. Process until moist clumps form.

Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Roll out on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in and press, forming double-thick sides. Using fork, pierce dough all over. Freeze 15 minutes.

Bake crust until pale golden, about 30 minutes (crust may shrink slightly). Cool on rack. Maintain oven temperature.

Make filling:
Finely grind almonds with sugar in processor. Add egg, butter and 2 teaspoons framboise. Process until batter forms. Pour filling into crust. Arrange plums atop filling. Bake until plums are tender and filling is golden and set, about 50 minutes.

Melt jelly with remaining 2 teaspoons framboise in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat. Brush jelly mixture over plums.

Cool tart. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream, if desired.

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48 comments on plum-almond tart

  1. Ha! That’s my all-too-familiar post structure as well. As for Madeleine, what a welcome temptation, though I wouldn’t say no to one of these tarts either. Such a yummy, scrummy revelation–one bite and I know my mouth would be awakened by their flowing, succulent juices. It would be as if a barbershop quartet was singing a four-part harmony of crust, fruit, nuts and more fruit in my mouth. Er, sorry…I got a bit carried away with my silliness. In any case…Bon Voyage! Can’t wait to hear about Napa and grilling!

  2. ME TOOOOO! My effin blog is down right now. And has been on and off for the last two days. I am beyond annoyed. Oh and I have more tricks up my sleeve besides the Easy bake oven. You just let me know!!

    Ciao,

    Joce

  3. Those tarts look deeeelicious! And, as always, your pictures are flawless. Have a wonderful trip, enjoy every minute. And Jocelyn, bring on the cookies!

  4. Quick question, what kind of almonds are they? I have whole raw almonds but they have the skin on, can I use those? Also, I’m thinking of using apples, do you think the green apples would be best? Any issues or things I may need to change if I want to use apples?

    thanks and have a wonderful trip! yay napa!

  5. Maytal — I used actually blanched, thinly sliced almonds, because that’s what I had in the fridge. (Yes, odd, but I keep them there.) I bet any type would do, but I’m so inexperienced with this sort of tart, I’m nervous to give it my full support. I bet apples, like Granny Smith, or whichever you like to bake with, would be delicious. Good luck!

  6. We should do a swap. A couple of Parisian Pâtisseries for a couple of your cupcake bakeries…Know how you feel about ‘getting into a food blog writing rut’, have the same issue. Have fun in Napa!

  7. Now I’m questioning my usual comment style – wow those tarts look delicious, I love frangipane, I’m going to have to make some of them soon, great photos, I’m swooning – but really, it’s all true. Is it o.k. if I chime in on the almonds question? If you have the kind with skins on, blanch them in boiling water and peel them (it’s not very hard), if you leave the peel on, the color is no good and it’ll taste bitter. Also, if you toast the almonds, they’ll taste better, but it’s another step, so most people don’t do it (but they really will taste better). Oh and in France, the apple of choice for this kind of tart is yellow delicious, but I like it best with pears.

    Have fun in Napa, you deserve it! I can’t wait to see the photos.

  8. let’s see if you can write about grilling w/o using any of those words! You guys have a great time and not to worry – am sure Joce will keep us entertained while we await your report(s) – travel safely and have fun.

  9. Oh, marzipan is The Best! Have you tried the almond croissant at Madeleine? It’s completely sinful, and something I limit to one breakfast per week. Haven’t tried the tarts yet, but a new week is just around the corner…

  10. Check out Cook’s Illlustrated Rustic Plum Cake if you get a chance–I ended up with some Italian plums in my CSA-delivered produce basket a week ago, hadn’t the slightest idea what to do with them, and voila! The second-best dessert I’ve ever made. I am trying Alex’s brownie mosaic cheesecake monster today, though…
    Also I should tell you that ground almonds figure heavily in the Plum Cake batter. Rich, sweet but not too sweet, moist, unbelievable.

  11. The photos look fabulous. The tartlets sort of put in me in the mood for Autumn and delicious apple tarts and apple turnovers. It will be apple season before we know it.

  12. Your recipe (and pictures) is just inspiring. There is a plum tree down the street and overly ripe plums have been falling to the sidewalk only to get crushed by passing feet. How I would love to jump the fence, hop into their yard, grab a few plums, and … Never mind. There is a farmer’s market tomorrow.

    Cheers!

  13. Is Jocelyn really going to bloggy sit? Really? I’m excited!
    Frangipane tarts are the most amazing thing and with plums! For some reason I love baked plums in anything ranging from tarts to clafoutis.

    Have fun in Napa!

  14. Ha ha, thanks for the original intro. I can relate, hope that helps! It’s healthy to be able to poke fun at yourself–it also looks immensely healthy to eat those tarteletes. YUM!

  15. Well, I made this with peaches (a whole tart, not tartlets) – yum-mee. Used peach jam and peach schnapps for the glaze. Not quite rich enough, so God forgive me, served it with homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

  16. I am glad to see someone else confirming my belief in pink frosting.
    It just looks good. In Ireland, ahem, several years ago, all the
    sandwich shops made you parade past the pastry selection and
    there was always something pink – a conspiracy no doubt.

    Keep up the good work.

  17. What other fruits would you recommend for these tarts? I see apples above (meh) and cherries (ick)….any other ideas? I’m not a big plum fan, but I am so all abou tmarzipan-y almond-y goodness!

  18. Hi Leah — Pears are often used in this sort of tart, and it might be worth finding out about figs, if you like them. After that, in the seasonal department at least, I’m stumped. What fruits do you like?

  19. The almond filling is actually called frangipan, which is an even better sounding and more delicious word than marzipan, if you ask me.

  20. I just made this as a gift to a friend’s parents for letting me stay the weekend. It looks lovely (though I cut my plums a little thick so they sunk into the almond a little) and it made my kitchen smell like heaven. Very excited to try it this weekend! I <3 your recipes and your blog, it is my go-to for making food gifts for friends and family!

  21. I made this yesterday and the recipe couldn’t be any simpler. Everyone absolutely loved it. I usually make a similar poached pear and almond tart, but this was more delicious and took away the step of preparing the pears. The tart plums are such a nice contrast to the sweetness of the frangipane, though I think I will use less sugar next time.

  22. I see pie weights in the photos but you don’t mention them in the recipe. Am i right to assume that the crust should be baked with the weights?

  23. Good catch. So, yes, the correct way is to use pie weights. But I don’t think I did for all of them. When I get a crust frozen solid, I can often get away with skipping them for a not-blind baking.

  24. Made two of them this evening – yes quartered the recipe for Peter and I. Always scared I will eat all eight if I make a whole recipe. They were perfect – delicate – this awesome duality of sweet and sour – loved the recipe!! Thank you!

  25. You’ve inspired me yet again, thank you! I recently made this similar tart
    http://www.joyofbaking.com/CherryTart.html
    and it wasn’t half bad, especially eaten a couple of days later, but I’d now like to try the 1-9-inch version of your recipe with the plums, because I think plums will have a bit more impact and flavour than sweet cherries. Spotted some plums the other day and I think they’d be just the ticket.

  26. I made this last night with great success, but *gasp* when I looked I had run out of almonds. With the crust already baking, I figured I’d better swap in something else so I used walnuts, and added some almond extract to the mixture. De-lish. Can’t wait to try it with almonds, though. My husband had three slices and two big glasses of milk, and to me, that is the greatest compliment. Thanks, Deb.

  27. This tart surpassed my expectations (which were already pretty high)! I made a 9″, arranging the plums in concentric circles. I did have to make a little more frangipane however, but it’s so quick to make, so I wasn’t exactly torn up about it. Also, I used pre-ground almonds because I already had them; I can’t imagine that it tasted any different to grinding my own – maybe I’m wrong? Plums are so delicious at this time of year as they are – put them in the oven and they become positively transcendent. YUM. The Framboise gives the frangipane such a gorgeous complexity of flavour too. I was so impressed with the entire thing. I also thought that freezing the pastry before baking it is great… I don’t know why, but the idea of getting out the grease-proof and baking beans inspires an inexplicable dread – freezing it worked perfectly. I have a sneaky little slice hidden for tomorrow and it is taking all my determination not to go down stairs and eat it now… at 2 am… get it together, Bell! So happy to have discovered this recipe. You can rest assured that my house in Dublin, Ireland, will be seeing plenty more of them in the near future.

    Can’t wait to see what Autumn brings for SK, it’s definitely my favourite season for cooking, what with all the lovely seasonal ingredients and beautiful colours. Ooooh, getting excited already!

    Thanks, Deb!

  28. Leah, I often make a similar tart with nectarines or peaches in the summer. It’s delicious too! Otherwise pears, figs and plums work great for a more autumn/winter cake.

  29. I am almost ready to start cooking, as I search for the perfect recipe for my perfect plums. This looks good but I know I will make the same tart crust I’ve been making all summer: with a regular tart recipe that you pat into the pan, I use half flour and half ground almonds, and I use half coconut oil and half olive oil. If it is too greasy, add more flour. This adaptation has worked great with blackberries, peaches and apples, so of course plums would like it too. Thanks as always for the deep well of recipes you provide.

  30. Hi Deb, how tall are your mini-tartlet molds? I can only seem to find 4 by 3/4 inch ones, would that still yield 8 minis to 1 large 9-inch tart? Thanks a bunch, and love your site!!

    1. Alice — Mine are pretty short, maybe 1/2 to 3/4-inch walls. (Okay, I can’t find them right now but that’s what I remember; like yours.) Anyway, what’s bothering me more than the fact that I can’t find them is that I feel like I usually get six tartlets for one 9-inch tart recipe, not eight, but it’s clear from the photo that I did indeed get 8 that day. I hope I haven’t led anyone astray. Happy baking (and please feel free to come back here and yell at me if my yield is off.)

  31. Here we are years later….but if you’re in Napa again in early August (or better yet Sonoma county) be sure to have some Gravenstein apples. They come ripe in late July/early August & are recognized by the SlowFood folks.

  32. Just found this & it sounds perfect for tonight’s dinner!
    THANK YOU! We LOVE marzipan(always place an entire roll
    in our traditional Christmas Morning stollen!)I’m thinking of using
    Shortbread Crust recipe (flour,sugar,butter & egg yolk) for these
    Mini-tarts from Joy of Cooking (the ’75 version which many despise but I loved
    bc of its recipes.) It doesn’t need to be rolled out, & I’m following your “lazy” requirement for Labor Day.)it held up well with a chocolate filling
    in August. Hoping it all works with apples. Would you cut them or
    dice them, Deb?

  33. Hi Deb! Your recipes are wonderful – thank you for keeping me so well fed. I’m wondering if I can sub in almond-meal for grinding fresh almonds here? I don’t see why not, but you may have a take on texture or flavor I don’t know about. Thank you!

  34. Almond meal follow up – I did attempt the tart using Bobs red mill finely ground almond meal, and it worked wonderfully, and I will be doing that again on the next round!