Tag Archives: tart

Seriously Awesome Almond Butter Tart

I’m still here! This is just what happens to me when I blog. I start out with a bang, get into a rhythm of regular posting, then slowly… taper… off…

It’s just what I do, people.

But allow me to resurface with this fantastic recipe for a toasted almond tart.

It’s one of the best new recipes I’ve tried in a long time. I came across the recipe in my Blog-Aid for Haiti cookbook and immediately dog-eared the page, enticed by the author’s description of how people usually respond to this treat: with resounding “mmmms” and “oh my gods” and “can I have the recipes.” I figured it had to be a showstopper. And the best part is that it has just a handful of ingredients and takes all of 20 minutes to prepare. It’s as easy a batch of one-bowl blondies and much more impressive.

I made this for a special Easter treat. T and I had leftovers for dinner, then invited our friends J & S over for dessert and a viewing of that classic Easter movie, The Hangover.* We ate the tart still warm from the oven, while the texture was soft and moist and chewy and awesome. J had two pieces. I was pleased. I finished off the rest over the next couple of days, enjoying it at room temperature after lunch, all while g-chatting with T and saying “OMG this is SO GOOD.” Then I wished I had more.

Go forth and make this on your own. Unless you don’t like almonds or almond extract, in which case you will not like this at all, but lemme tell you, you will be MISSING OUT.

Toasted Almond Butter Tart
Adapted from Sweet Amandine

3 T. sliced almonds
3/4 C. unsalted butter (12 tablespoons)
1 1/2 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. sugar, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9-inch cake or tart pan (I used my tart pan with a removable bottom).

Spread almonds on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven until pale golden and fragrant, about 6 – 8 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, then set aside to cool a little bit.

Measure the sugar into a separate bowl, then blend in the butter (using a mixer or not). Add the eggs one at a time, then mix in the extracts. Sift together flour and salt, then gently stir into sugar/butter mixture. Scrape batter into prepared tart pan and smooth evenly. Spread toasted almonds over top, then sprinkle the granulated sugar over all.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until puffed and golden. The tart will probably sink in the middle as it cools, but that’s okay.

*Not classic at all. But pretty funny.


Daring Bakers Do Orange Tian

First off, my apologies for disappearing off the face of the earth for the last three weeks. But I hope you’ll forgive me when you see this doozy of a post.

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I decided to join Daring Bakers — an online community that selects challenging recipes to do once a month — because I thought it would be a good way to push my boundaries and make things I’ve never even thought about. This tian definitely falls into that category; I didn’t even know what a tian was when I first read the recipe on the DB forums. Actually, I still don’t really know what a tian is — it’s a French cooking term and most of the recipes I found when googling “tian” were savory. But no matter — the Daring Bakers called for an Orange Tian dessert, and that is what we have here.

The recipe has several different components, all of which had to be made from scratch (according to the DB “rules.” Sure, you could cut corners, and I would probably advise you to use store-bought marmalade, but I’m a rule follower, at least for now). We’ve got a pate sablee, orange marmalade, whipped cream, segmented oranges, and caramel sauce.

This was a time-consuming dessert to make. You’re supposed to start it a day or two before, because the segmented oranges are to soak overnight in the caramel sauce (which results in a-freaking-mazing orange segments — the caramel sauce is just sugar and orange juice, so it’s not buttery-slick, but it imparts a burnt-sugar sweetness to the oranges that is just irresistible. The sugar-soaked oranges alone were my favorite part of this recipe). And segmenting the oranges took a goddamn long time, but I think it’s largely because I had no idea what I was doing.

So. The first thing I did was make the marmalade. Yep, I made marmalade. It’s the first jelly-type thing I’ve made on my own, and it’s kind of funny to me, because I’ve never liked orange marmalade. But this was pretty good. Of course, I went light on the spread of marmalade on the actual tian, so now I’m stuck with about two cups of the stuff in the fridge, and I really don’t think T or I will eat it any time soon. (On a side note: I had a crush on a guy in college who made himself peanut-butter-and-marmalade sandwiches. I thought it was disgusting, but back then it only added to his charming quirkiness. But still — disgusting combination.)

Then I segmented the oranges, which I’ve already mentioned was more difficult than I’d imagined. But then, about halfway through, I watched this tutorial and realized what I’d been doing wrong, and it was much easier. So if you ever want to segment citrus, check out that link first.

The caramel was really easy to make — you just melt the sugar and then add in the orange juice. If I were to make this again, I might warm the orange juice first. I think the fact that it was so cold, right out of the fridge, contributed to the caramelized sugar seizing up and crystallizing. But then you just keep stirring over medium heat and it all melts together again.

The next day, I put together the pate sablee, which was really similar to my favorite tart dough. I rolled it out and placed the removable bottom of my 9-inch tart pan on top, then cut the circle and baked it. The original recipe called for making 6 individual-sized tartlets using circular cookie cutters, but I don’t have six matching cookie cutters. The full-sized 9-inch tart pan worked really well as an alternative.

Then there was the stabilized whipped cream, which called for adding gelatin to the cream as you’re whipping it. Um, I don’t recommend using gelatin that has been in your cabinet for God-knows-how-long (long enough that the box is faded and looks like it was bought in 1981) because it just resulted in little tapioca-like granules in the cream. It wasn’t too noticeable in the final product, but I could definitely sense the texture when I tasted the whipped cream before assembling.

And, okay, the assembly. Jeez louise, this is getting long. So you assemble the whole thing upside-down-like. I started out by placing the caramel-soaked, segmented oranges in the bottom of the tart pan (and this is when I ate half of the oranges). Then I dolloped the whipped cream over the oranges and spread it out in an inch-thick layer. Then I spread a thin coating of marmalade over the top of the 9-inch pate sablee circle, and flipped that over onto the whipped cream. Then I froze it for a while. About a half-hour before I wanted to serve it, I took it of the freezer and flipped it onto a plate and removed the tart pan, then let it soften in the fridge.

And voila. Lots of hours later, it was all done. And are you wondering what the finished product tasted like? (Are you still reading?) It tasted like Creamsicles. It was very good, but I still think the best part was the candied oranges.

Would I make it again? Not so much. As I said, it certainly tasted good, but it was really time consuming for a dessert that didn’t knock my socks off with awesome.

But that said, it was light and fresh, and if you’re a fan of citrus-based desserts, it’s not a bad one to try. Just, go ahead and cut some corners.

The recipe is below, and also on the Daring Bakers website…

Orange Tian
Adapated from Alain Ducasse‘s Cooking School in Paris

For the marmalade: (This will be easier if you have a kitchen scale)

3.5 oz. orange juice (1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons)
1 large orange, sliced
cold water to cook the orange slices
5 grams pectin
granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked (if you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can measure the orange slices in a cup and then use the same amount of sugar)

Finely slice the orange. Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes. Repeat this process once, then once again for a total of 3 times. (Blanching removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so you should use new water every time.)

Drain the slices and let them cool. Once cooled, finely mince them with a knife or food processor. Weigh the minced oranges, then weight the same amount of granulated sugar (or use a measuring cup).

Place the oranges, the sugar, the orange juice, and the pectin in a pot over medium heat. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency, about 10 – 15 minutes. (This took me closer to 25 – 30 minutes of cooking, but I used liquid pectin instead of granulated, so maybe that’s the difference?) Once thick enough, transfer the marmalade to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and keep in the fridge.

For the Orange Segments:

Get yourself 8 oranges. Cut them into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to capture the juice. (Check out this video for instructions on segmenting!) Set aside.

Make the Caramel:

1 cup granulated sugar
14 oz. orange juice (1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons)

Put the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. It will start to melt after about 5 minutes. Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. (It will probably make the sugar seize up — just keep stirring over medium heat until it all melts together again.) Bring the mixture to a boil, then immediately remove from heat and pour half of it over the orange segments.

Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you’ll heat this up later to serve along with the assembled dessert. (Shortly before serving the tian, heat the caramel in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes minutes.)

For the Pate Sablee:

1.5 cups plus 2 T. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup plus 3 T. unsalted butter, cut into pieces and frozen
1/3 tsp. salt
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
6 T. plus 1 tsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Put the flour, baking powder, ice-cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks, vanilla, and sugar with a whisk until the mixture is light and pale. Pour mixture into the food processor.

Process until the dough just comes together. If the dough is a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again, until it sticks together. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic, and place in fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface to a 1/4-inch thick circle. Place the removable bottom of a 9-inch tart pan over the dough and cut a circle to the shape. Place the large circle of dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the circle is just golden. Set aside to cool to room temp.

For the Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 T. of hot water
1 tsp gelatin
1 T. confectioner’s sugar
1 T. orange marmalade (I omitted this)

In a small bowl, add the gelatin and hot water, stirring well until the gelatin dissolves. Let the gelatin cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream. (Or just skip this and make normal whipped cream.)

Place the cream in a chilled mixing bowl and whip on low speed until the cream starts to thicken, about one minutes. Add the powdered sugar and increase the speed to medium-high. Whip until the beaters leave visible but not lasting trails in the cream, then add the gelatin while beating continuously. Continue beating until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade, if using.

Assembling the Dessert:

Make sure you have enough room for a baking sheet in your freezer.

Line baking sheet with parchment, and place 9-inch tart pan on the sheet. Drain the caramel-soaked orange segments on a paper towel, then arrange in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Try to make it pretty, as this will be the top of your dessert when it comes time to serve it.

Once the oranges are arranged, place several dollops of whipped cream on top of the oranges, then gently spread cream into an even layer. Make sure to leave enough room for the dough circle to be placed on top.

Spread a thin, even layer of orange marmalade over the circle of dough, then carefully place circle marmalade-side-down on top of the whipped cream. Gently press down on the dough to make sure the dessert is compacted together. Place the dessert in the freezer to set. (If serving right away, it only needs to set for 10 minutes. But if you’re serving it later, let it freeze for as long as you want, then unmold it and give it 30 minutes in the fridge to soften up.)

To serve: Using a thin knife, gently go around the edges of the tart pan to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Place a serving plate on top of the tart pan, then turn the whole thing over. Gently remove the tart pan, leaving the tian behind. Cut into 8 slices and serve with warmed caramel sauce.

Cranberry Pecan Frangipane Tart

Happy 2010, everyone! I’m not much of a resolution-maker, but I do have two for this blog:

1) To take better photographs. I’ve mostly been using my little Canon point-and-shoot, which doesn’t offer the greatest images. Sometimes I use Terwilliger’s fancy Nikon, but I don’t know anything about the settings. So, I’m resolving to learn more about the settings and find some better lighting for better photos.

2) I hope to post more dinner items on this here blog in the coming months. For one thing, Terwilliger and I do manage to eat dinner on a regular basis, and I would like to document the recipes I’m using. Especially because I’m learning to modify things and make tweaks with tasty results, and that’s exciting to me. I’m finding that I actually like to *cook,* not just bake, and I want to nurture that.

And, okay, there’s another thing: as you know, I really, really love the baked goods, but, well, my wardrobe doesn’t. And the thing is, I’ve been baking like a fiend because “I can put it on the blog later.” And that’s just giving me an excuse to bake every day. (Which is not a bad thing in itself, but it can be bad when there are only two people in the household and one of them doesn’t have an overwhelming sweet tooth and the other one will eat every brownie in sight. You will easily guess which one I am.) So basically what I’m saying is that I’d like cut back on the baking obsession, just a little bit. Plus, I think T is getting tired of me force-feeding him desserts.

But before I get all “this is not solely a baking blog,” I have to share the dessert I made for Christmas with you guys. Because it is good, oh, it is good. It’s a cranberry pecan frangipane tart from Smitten Kitchen, and it will knock your socks off.

Are you wondering what “frangipane” is? I was too when I first noticed this recipe more than a year ago. I still don’t know how to pronounce it, but apparently frangipane is sweetened, creamy almond paste. This one is made with pecans, though, so maybe it’s not a true frangipane. But whatever. It’s fantastic, and that’s what matters.

I’m not singing the praises of this treat just because it’s sweet and buttery and therefore delicious. No, there’s more to it than that: the rich, distinctive bite of the pecans is heightened by a hint of orange zest, and the sharp whole cranberries mellow out into the perfect foil for the sweet frangipane. Also, the crisp shortbread crust is heavenly.

I made this for Christmas night dinner, which included T and me and our friends Jake & Steph. I also made real food: roast chicken with lemon, traditional mashed potatoes, and green beans with sauteed shallots. While that wasn’t the first full meal with sides that I’ve made, it was the first official holiday dinner I’ve prepared. And that’s pretty nice, friends. I don’t know why cooking still seems like this club I never thought I’d be in, but every time I eat a meal of my own making, and it’s good, I’m a little amazed. I guess I’ll get used to it, won’t I? Especially if I hold on to resolution #2.

Here’s your Christmas tart, or Friday tart, or really Any Day of the Week tart…

*There are some do-ahead elements of this recipe, so plan your baking around that. The tart dough needs to be chilled for a total of 2 and a half hours (minimum), and the frangipane also needs to be chilled for at least 3 hours. The frangipane can be made two days in advance and kept in the fridge until needed. Same with the tart dough, come to that.*


For the tart crust:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick plus 1 T. (9 T.) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg

For the filling:

1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 & 1/2 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 3 T. sugar
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 & 1/2 tsp. orange zest
3/4 cup whole, fresh cranberries

To make the tart crust:

I used my food processor to make the crust, and it was incredibly easy. If you don’t have a food processor, just cut in the butter using two knives or a pastry blender. My instructions are going to assume you have one, though.

Place flour, sugar and salt in bowl of processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Scatter butter pieces over dry ingredients and pulse until butter is coarsely cut in (with some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas). Beat egg in separate bowl; slowly add beaten egg to processor bowl a little at a time and pulse. When the egg is added, process in two long 10-second pulses. Turn dough onto a work surface and gather dough into a ball, very lightly kneading just to get any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

To roll the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper or wax paper, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. (Alternately, you can roll this out between two pieces of plastic, though flour the dough a bit anyway.) Using wax paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Tuck dough against the sides of the pan. Trim overhang to half an inch and use extra dough to patch any cracks or thin spots. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork, including the sides. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

Now it’s time to fully bake the crust: Preheat the oven to 375. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 minutes.

Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake for an additional 15 minutes or until it’s firm and golden brown. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature.

Make the frangipane:

Place pecans and flour in a food processor and process until finely ground. Add sugar and pulse to mix. Add butter and orange zest and blend until smooth. Add egg and egg white and process until mixed. Transfer filling to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (Can be made ahead and kept in fridge for two days.)

To assemble & bake the tart:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Using a spatula, smooth the frangipane filling into the baked tart crust. The frangipane will be thick, almost like frosting. I piled the filling in the middle of the crust and smoothed it out from there. The tart crust should be filled to just under the edge of the crust — you may have a little frangipane left over.

Arrange the whole cranberries however you wish over the frangipane. (I pressed them in a haphazard pattern, one at a time, into the filling.)

Place filled tart pan on a cookie sheet to catch any spillage (the cranberries will probably bubble a bit when they’re baking). Bake tart until golden on top and until a tester inserted in the center of the filling comes out clean, about 45 – 55 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack. Push the pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan. (The tart can be made 8 hours ahead and kept at room temperature.) Cut tart into wedges (8 – 10, depending on how big you make them), and serve.

Mixed Berry Tart

Mixed Berry Tart
From: Baking: From My Home to Yours
Serves: 6 – 8

Well, friends, here it is: I make disasters, so you don’t have to.

Since I’ve always loved to bake and I’ve always been pretty good at it, sometimes my baking hubris gets the better of me. Even if I’m tackling something I’ve never tried before, I’m fairly certain it’s going to turn out well, because of my magic baking touch. Or ability to follow directions to a degree of compulsion, or history of success, or reliable compliments, or what have you. Essentially, I could stand to be taken down a peg or two. Occasionally.

Enter pastry cream! Here to remind Jill that baking is an act of chemistry and that she is no scientist. Continue reading

Peaches & Cream Tart

Crunchy and Custardy Peach Tart
Source: Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours
Serves 6 – 8


First off: Go make this. Get thee some ripe summer peaches and put them in this tart. It is so, so good. I made it a few weeks ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Second: If you’re itchin’ to make a somewhat complicated recipe, let me give you one piece of advice: read the recipe the whole way through before you start, and then when you’re working, take your time. Continue reading