I was originally making this for AFAM: Pears hosted by Raaga of the The Singing chef for the month of March. I am posting this recipe after she has even finished with the round up! Talk about Indian standard stretchable time:) I wanted to explore frangipane tarts more thoroughly before writing about them.
The frangipane tart in terms of taste was a great contrast of slightly tart fruit with the crisp chewiness of the macaroon like almond filling.
Frangipane in the pastry world is a sweetened almond filling used in tarts and pastries. I was very delighted to discover that it has an Indian connection. Frangipane is the name of a flower, which was originally used to flavor the almond paste.Look familiar?
I love this flower, called the Temple Tree flower, it has a sweet intoxicating smell which usually denotes summer for me.
For the Frangipane itself I followed this recipe from the Washington Post.For the shell instead of going with the cream cheese tart shell as in the WP recipe, I went for a Pate Sucree ( Sweet Tart Pastry Shell) from the Bakers dozen cookbook.
Couple of important pointers for anyone who might want to attempt this. One is that The frangipane receives equal billing with the fruits. This is not a tart you want to stuff with fruits. The picture I have of my pear tart is actually a good example of what not to do with a frangipane tart. You want give the frangipane enough space to puff up and develop a nice brown crust. A very good example is Spittoon extra's Apricot and Fig Frangipane Tart.
You can substitute the pear with any stone fruit, Apple or Plums being favorite choices. You can also flavor the almond frangipane filling like I did with cardamom or even perhaps nutmeg. I made a Plum filled one as well, but I donot have any pictures because my little daughter really liked it. She polished it off with the ten teeth she has!
This tart shell is perhaps one of the easiest bcause it does not depend too much on the correct mixing of the butter into the flour, which is perhaps the most technical part of forming a good tart shell. So it is good for newbies.
Pate Sucree( Sweet Tart Pastry Shell)
from the Bakers dozen Cookbook.
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cool but not chilled
2.5 tbsp sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of fine sea salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1. In a medium bowl, using a hand-held mixer on medium high speed, cream the butter and sugar until light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Break the egg into a cup, mix it thoroughly with a fork, and measure 2.5 tbsp. Discard the remainder. Beat it in with the vanilla and salt just until blended. Scrape down the bowl. On low speed, add the flour all at once and mix just until the ingredients are moistened. Donot overmix.
2. Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface. Quickly finish combining the ingredients by smearing small amounts away from you. Using a bench knife or plastic scraper, scrape up the dough and gather it together. Form into a flat disk about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap. Referigerate until firm, atleast one hour.( The dough can be prepared upto a day ahead, wrapped, and referigerated.)
This dough tends to break, but it is easy to repair.