THIS PHENOMENAL CARAMEL ALMOND CONFECTION WAS ALMOST BOUNCED OFF THE MENU OF ALICE WATERS’ CHEZ PANISSE
A baker named Lindsey Shere created this wonderful almond and caramel dessert. Andrew’s been offering it up all summer. My favorite indicator of just how good it is was when Andrew took 2 Almond Tarts to a dinner party, and the hosts balked! Claiming that their guests could never eat both tarts, the moment the first guest bit into it they begged him not to take the leftovers home. It’s that good. But according to David Lebovitz, who followed Lindsey as Pastry Chef at Chez Panisse “Too many customers apparently had a hard time eating it with a fork, so off the menu it went.” Lebovitz is the author of 10 Cookbooks and (a newsletter you can subscribe to for free at https://davidlebovitz.substack.com/.) He’s an acknowledged culinary genius in sweets. Lebovitz lobbied hard to keep the tart on the Chez Panisse menu. He insisted “It’s probably the most delicious thing I’ve ever had”. Besides, Andrew solved the fork problem. He exhorted people to eat it by hand, like a cookie that’s been cut like a tart.
DESPITE THE LENGTH OF THE RECIPE AND ITS REPUTATION AS BEING TRICKY TO BAKE, IT’S NOT ALL THAT HARD TO MAKE.
Lindsey Shere’s recipe is lengthy. But the length of the recipe is Ms. Shere’s way of guiding you through its potential pitfalls: The filling may bubble up over the edges in the oven. She solves this by putting a sheet of foil in the oven to catch the overflow. The tart could stick to the bottom of the pan but she advises loosening it while it’s still warm. Even better, Shere’s instructions include shortcuts: No baking weights are necessary. You pull the frozen tart shell out of the freezer and it blind bakes without collapsing or deforming. Shere even makes the caramel sauce a breeze. You simply pour the boiled sugar right over the almonds and presto, it becomes a chewy caramel all on its own.
HERE’S TODAY’S RECIPE AND SOME OTHER WONDERFUL TARTS FROM ANDREW’S REPERTOIRE.
August 29, 2023
: 60 min
: Follow the directions precisely and it's not all that hard to make
Simply delicious, this almond confection with its caramel topping is a winner.
By: Monte Mathews
FOR THE TART SHELL
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 cup (110g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 or 3 drops of almond extract
FOR THE FILLING
¾ cup (175g) heavy cream
¾ cup (150g) sugar
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
2 or 3 drops of almond extract
1 cup (90g) sliced almonds
Step 1To make the tart shell, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into ½-inch (1.3cm) slices. Work the butter slices into the flour mixture with your hands or a pastry blender until the butter is the consistency of fine bread crumbs or almond meal and the mixture is beginning to hold together the softer your butter is, the faster this will go.
Step 2 Stir together the water, vanilla, and almond extract in a small bowl and then work it into the flour-butter mixture just until the pastry is blended and holds together when you press it. Gather it into a ball, cover it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes. You can also wrap the pastry in aluminum foil and freeze it for up to 1 month.
Step 3 Choose a 9-inch (23cm) tart pan with a removable bottom that isn’t black (or if that’s all you have, just watch it closely in the oven to make sure it doesn’t burn). Press the pastry into the bottom and sides of the pan, making sure that it’s an even thickness. If at any point the dough gets too sticky and unmanageable, refrigerate it for a few minutes until it’s firm enough to press without sticking to your fingers. Reserve any leftover pastry for patching. Wrap the pastry shell in aluminum foil and freeze for at least 30 minutes or overnight. You don’t need to fill the shell with weights before blind-baking– this pastry doesn’t shrink much.
Step 4 When you’re ready to bake the tart, heat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (dull side up). Bake the shell on the baking sheet until it’s golden brown all over, 20 to 30 minutes. Be sure the tart is fully baked because the pastry will not bake much more once it is filled. (Note: I haven’t seen this happen, but per David Lebovitz, if the sides collapse in the oven, you can take it out halfway through baking and carefully push the half-baked dough back up the sides.) Let the pastry shell cool on the lined pan on a rack while you make the filling and turn the oven up to 400°F (200°C.
Step 5 To make the filling, stir together the cream, sugar, Grand Marnier, and almond extract in a large saucepan (it should have enough room for the mixture to triple in volume, just in case it bubbles up quickly). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a rolling boil.
Step 6 Remove from the heat, stir in the almonds, and let the mixture stand for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, patch any cracks in the tart shell if necessary. Smooth a small piece of reserved soft dough gently over any crack that looks like it goes all the way through the shell. (Note: If you forgot to save some dough or didn’t have enough, David Lebovitz recommends mixing together a thick slurry of flour and water and smoothing that in, instead. It works!) Be careful not to break through the crisp top of the baked crust as you patch. Fill the shell with the still-warm filling, making sure that the almonds float evenly in the filling. If they are piled on top of the liquid, the finished tart will have a cornflake-like texture instead of a smooth, glossy surface.
Step 7 With the tart still on the lined baking sheet in case the filling bubbles over, bake the tart until the top is a creamy brown caramel color, 30 to 35 minutes.It will continue to brown a little more when you take it out of the oven. Let the tart cool in the pan on a rack, loosening the sides of the pan slightly every minute or two with an offset spatula or butter knife until set, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the tart from the ring and return it to the rack to cool completely. If you want to remove the tart from the bottom of its pan, carefully slide an offset spatula or butter knife between the pastry shell and pan while the tart is still warm, 15 to 20 minutes after it comes out of the oven. Then lift the tart off the bottom of the pan with a wide spatula and return it to the rack to finish cooling. Serve at room temperature in thin wedges and remind your guests to eat the tart with their hands like a cookie.
Step 8 Leftovers keep quite well stored airtight at room temperature.
Step 9 GENIUS TIP: DON’T MISE EVERY LAST LITTLE THING. Most cooking and baking endeavors will go more smoothly if you follow the classic principle of mise en place, aka measuring and prepping everything on the ingredient list before you just dive in. But some ingredients shouldn’t be left exposed to air for too long. Yolks will take on a tough skin, citrus zests will fade and wither, and vanilla extract and other alcoholic substances will evaporate, leaving only a dry residue in no time. Either cover these volatile ingredients tightly with plastic wrap or don’t bust them out till the last minute.
The earliest of this summer’s peaches, a delicious almond filling and the tenderest of crusts. Today on Chewing The Fat. Andrew is back to baking and you’ll be so glad he is. This great recipe appeared on Food 52.com attributed to one “Kukla”. Its roots […]
These tarts with their fall-apart flaky crust and perfect custard filling are one reason to go back to Portugal again and again. I’m just back from my third trip to Portugal. It’s a magical country with a fairytale world quality I find irresistible! On this […]