Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Last of the Strawberries in a Tart

I am ridiculously spoiled, and I admit it. Because we have a local farmer who plants different varieties of strawberries, including late season ones, and because we have had a looooong warm autumn, last Friday we were able to purchase fresh local strawberries. It was also the week when I cleaned out the freezer and found a disk of tart dough. However, with Thanksgiving weekend taking up my time, no tart was made until this week.

If you have tart dough ready and a packet of ground blanched almonds, too, this tart is absurdly easy. If not, make some tart dough and chill it, then get out the food processor, blanched almonds and a bit of sugar and make the almond meal. I used the stand mixer version of the almond cream since I already had ground almonds handy, but if you have made the almond meal in the food processor it would be sensible to also make the almond cream in the processor.

You can use any kind of fruit in this tart. The original recipe in Dorie Greenspan's book was for poached pears, a lovely fruit at this time of year. I can almost taste this made with fresh apricots in the summer, and blueberries would be good, too.

Since I used a smaller tart pan, I had about 1/4 cup left over almond cream, but Sweetie took care of that for me. He does loved his nuts.

Not only does this tart look good, but the combination of sweet fruit, rich almond cream, and buttery, flaky crust is divine. This would be a pretty dessert to serve with coffee during the holidays, so take a break from the bustle and shopping, invite a few close friends over for tart and coffee or tea, relax with friendship and good conversation. You'll be glad you did.

French Strawberry Tart
based on a pear tart in Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From my home to yours

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup ground blanched almonds
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 9-inch tart shell made with Sweet Tart Dough, partially baked and cooled
(I used a 6-inch tart shell, unbaked, which worked fine)

1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, dried, hulled and cut in half

Confectioners sugar for dusting

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Put the butter and sugar in a food processor and process until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Add the ground almonds and process until well blended. Add the flour and the cornstarch and process to blend, then add the egg. Process for about 15 seconds more, or until the almond cream is homogeneous. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and process just to blend.
OR Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with a whisk attachment until mixture is smooth and satiny. Add the ground almonds and whisk on medium speed until well blended. Add the flour and cornstarch and whisk briefly to blend, then add the egg. Whisk on medium until the almond cream is homogeneous. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and whisk just to blend.

Fill the tart shell with the almond cream, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula. Place the halved strawberries in a nice pattern on top of the cream, starting at the outer edge of the tart shell.

Bake the tart on the prepared baking sheet for 50 - 60 minutes, or until the almond cream puffs up around the fruit and browns. Transfer the tart to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature before removing the sides of the pan.

Right before serving, dust the tart with confectioners sugar.  Makes one tart.

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