While cleaning out an upper cupboard in my closet last week, I discovered a forgotten box. A treasure full of old recipes I had created when I taught cooking classes, as well as letters and postcards I’d sent my parents from La Varenne in Paris, France. It was like opening a present on Christmas day. The “missing pieces” from my life suddenly inspired me to go back to the recipes I’d embraced many years ago. Early in my cooking career, ideas for recipes came like lightning strikes, unexpected but exhilarating, followed by cloud bursts of extended creations. It all seemed so easy. I almost couldn’t get the ideas down fast enough, not to mention implement them.
Here is one of those recipes for Almondines that I’ve adapted. The results impressed me more than I’d expected. The tart is made delectable by the inclusion of almond paste. Rich and tender, the almond filling almost melts on the tongue and the unifying light almond crust is the accent mark. Divine. It’s been a hit with all my taste testers. The best part is you can fill the tarts with the almond creme, sprinkle on the sliced almonds and freeze for an impromptu breakfast or tea time. They only take about 18 minutes to bake or about 25 if frozen. I’m making a batch to freeze for weekend guests and last-minute holiday gatherings. Enjoy!
- Almond filling
- 1 stick, 4 ounces butter or 100 gr
- ½ Cup sugar or 100 gr
- 1 tube, 7 oz. almond paste or 198 gr
- 3 eggs
- ½ Cup flour or 65 gr
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- Pâte Sucrée (This is my favorite from A French Chef Cooks at Home by Jacques Pepin) I added the almond extract. Feel free to use your favorite crust recipe too.
- 1¼ Cup flour
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 stick, 4 ounces cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 3 Tablespoons ice water
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- Pâte Sucrée
- Combine the flour, salt and sugar.
- Cut in the butter pieces until size of small peas
- Combine the egg yolk, almond extract and water.
- Drizzle into the flour mixture and combine gently.
- If the pastry feels too dry, add a bit more water.
- Knead lightly to form a ball. Pat the ball into a 6” round, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour.
- Note: I use a food processor to make my crusts.
- Meanwhile, make the almond filling.
- Almond Filling
- Cream the butter, sugar and almond paste together.
- Beat in the eggs one by one.
- Beat until light in color and fluffy. This will take about 5 minutes.
- Slowly add the flour and salt. Stir in almond extract. Mix just until combined.
- You can refrigerate the filling at this time or use immediately.
- Note #1: I made this recipe using organic sugar with crystals much larger than the white C&H variety. The crystals melted into the butter and did not whip up into a fluffy mass. The filling was much denser than I like. I prefer using regular white sugar for the filling for a lighter crumb.
- Note #2: I prefer to weigh my ingredients. There is a tiny bit of discrepancy in the measurements when you use Standard vs Metric measuring. This is not enough to alter the recipe.
- Roll the dough out to ⅛”-1/4” thick. Cut into rounds appropriate for your tart tins. I used 4” tart tins and the recipe made 11 tarts. You can also make one large tart using a 9” quiche tin. If the dough seems too sticky, you can pinch off pieces of dough and fit them into the tart molds.
- Pat the dough into the tins and put in freezer to chill.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- When the pastry crusts are cold, fill with almond mixture and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Pat the almonds down slightly to help them adhere to the filling.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes. They are done when deep brown on top.
- Brush with strained apricot jam when warm to create a beautiful glaze.
- These can also be frozen after they are baked.
Believe in your heart that you’re meant to live a life full of passion, purpose, magic and miracles.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
Ciao for now,