Friday, May 6, 2011

Strawberry Frangipane Tart

It's hard to imagine the possibility of summer approaching until strawberries start to make their appearance.  What a cheerful, bright harbinger they are!  While I normally revel in enjoying them fresh and plain, baking with strawberries can be a real delight, especially for those first few begin to appear at the market in spring.  They are a natural pairing with frangipane-- that delicious, fluffy almond creme-- but I decided to mix things up a bit.  Instead of the traditional almonds, I used pecans in the frangipane.  I also blended the strawberries right in, rather that layering them on top.  The result is a pretty magenta tart with a delicate jammy flavor that will guarantee a smile.

Ingredients for the Tart Shell:
- 6 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup flour

- Combine all ingredients except the flour into an oven safe bowl.
- Put in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.
- Carefully remove the bowl, add the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough is formed.
- Let the dough cool until it is safe enough to handle.
- Transfer the dough to your tart pan and gently press it out and up the sides.  Reserve a small piece of dough to patch any cracks after blind baking.
- Prick all over with a fork, especially the corners.
- Return the tart shell to the oven for 15 minutes until it is lightly golden.
- Upon removal patch any noticeable cracks with the reserved dough.  If you work quickly and have little feeling in your fingertips, you can add it instantly and it will cook right on.
- Let the tart shell cool.

Ingredients for Frangipane:
- 2/3 c. pecans, + additional for decoration
- 2/3 c. strawberries
- 1 egg
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 2 tbsp. butter, softened
- 1 tbsp. flour
- 1/2 tsp vanilla

- Lightly toast the pecans and grind in a food processor until they are roughly sandy.
- Trim and chop your strawberries and add to the food processor along with all of the other ingredients.
- Pulse until smooth.
- Gently pour the frangipane into the tart mold.
- Place pecan halves in decorative manner of your choosing.  You could cover the entire surface if you wanted a richer, nuttier tart.
- Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, until the tart is firm.
- Allow to cool completely.  I recommend serving with a generous scoop of fresh sliced strawberries.  The tart should keep for up to three days, though it is best the first day as the color will fade a bit.


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