Another boozy baking post? I think so! This time, we will be making delicious tarts with a buttery, flaky crust, a creamy almond (frangipane) filling and smooth amber amaretto-infused caramel nut topping.
While pastry crusts can sometimes be super-frustrating to create, this one comes together pretty easily. For this sweeter tart, I am making a sugar-butter based crust– pateê sucrée, technically.
Although I am positive that all of you have been studying your french pastry flashcards this year, let’s have a quick review about the various types of french pastry crusts. The three common crust types are: Patê Brisée, Patê Sucrée and Patê Sablée.
Patê Brisée is a savory crust, utilizing unsweet ingredients. This is what you would pick for a nice quiché-like pastry. Throw some leftover zucchini and cheese in it from when you made our Crispy Zucchini Parmesan Fries last night and voila! Beautiful savory tart.
Finally, we have Patê Sablée. This literally means sand paste. The sand reference comes from the larger addition of sugar. Sablée dough would be best utilized in shortbread cookies or another more crumbly recipe.
Preparing the dough is fairly easy in this case. We just mix our dry ingredients (Best weighed out to be precise! Proper pastry is a science!) and combine thoroughly, cream in the (very cold) butter and then add in some cream and an egg. Who said french pastry dough had to be so difficult?! Pfft. Once the dough is forming clumps, we push it into a nice disk and chill it. It is critical to keep the butter very cold during this entire process. Those little chunks of buttery lovin’ are what make the crust flaky and delicious when you bake it!
I prefer to work my dough on a marble slab just to be sure that it doesn’t warm too much. If this isn’t an option, just keep it cool and work in refrigerated batches if you need to.
Now that the dough is marbled with butter and ready, roll it out and punch out your shapes. I prefer my crusts to be fairly thin for tarts/tartlets (baby tarts… d’awww), about 1/4″ max.
There are a few ways to shape the tarts/tartlets. You can use a traditional fluted-top large mold, smaller individual size tart molds, or even the standard muffin pan! I went with the muffin pan method this time, wanting to make sure that I had a deeper well since I was layering the filling with a caramel-nut topping.
BLOGGER FAIL: I originally used the bottom of the pan to drape the pastry dough over and bake the shells. They baked perfectly, leaving flaky fillable molds for the tarts. I then proceeded to take photos of the filled shells… That was when the world came to a sudden stop. My backdrop came crashing down on the beautiful little innocent tarts, destroying every. single. one. of them in its path. After picking up the pieces of the tarts (and obviously my heart and tears that went with it), I started all over again.
This time I switched things up a bit and made the shells inside the muffin pan. Not sure why, really. I just though that I would. In order to fit the pastry circles into the molds, I had to cut out a tiny triangle. Bring the ends together and be sure the dough it pressed into the seam of the pan well. Poke vent holes to prevent any puffing, fill and bake. This time I attached the backdrop for the photos to the table. With superglue. And screws. And a metal arc welder.
Now for the filling! That sweet, buttery dessert tart crust (Come on! I know you know what it is called. You studied those flashcards, right? Patê sucreée. Two
points tarts for you!) seems to go so unbelievably well with the deep caramel taste of almonds.
Frangipane is an almond based cream filling that includes sugar, flour, butter and generally eggs. We will toss an egg into our mixture for this filling to give it some volume to fill the shells. The recipe calls for almond flour/meal, which is easily made my throwing some almond (any type, skin or not) into a food processor with the sugar and a bit of flour and letting it go to town until very fine.
You can also find this at most grocery/natural stores. My favorite by far is Trader Joe’s almond meal. Cheaper than most, and very high quality. Don’t forget to do this with the sugar and flour, or you will end up with a (still very tasty) almond paste. This will cause issues with the filling base. Save the paste for another day.
If frangipane sounds a bit familiar, it is probably because you have more likely heard of it’s evil step-sister, marzipan. Marzipan is an almond candy, made with powdered sugar and corn syrup/glucose.
The BOOZE! Goodness. How could I have almost forgotten to mention the booze?! The caramel that we will drown the nuts in for the top of these tarts is infused with none other than one of my favorite sweetened liquors, Amaretto (I prefer Disaronno). This liquor has a distinct almond (almost cherry-like) note that will pair perfectly with the creamy, smooth homemade caramel. If making caramel (which certainly takes some practice to learn when is caramel and when is completely burned) isn’t your thing, melt down some of those sweet little cubes and stir in the Amaretto. I won’t judge you, and nobody has to know.
The combination of the buttery, flaky crust, the almond cream baked filling and the salty, booze-boosted caramel nut topping is really just perfect. Serve it with a great cup of coffee. PERFECT start (or finish) to any day!
- 8.3 ounces (1⅓ cups) flour, all-purpose
- 0.87 ounces (1/8 cup) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 4 ounces butter, cubed, unsalted, VERY cold
- 2-4 tablespoons heavy cream
- 50 grams (1/2 cup) almonds or almond flour
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) sugar
- 10 grams (1 tablespoon) flour, all-purpose
- 40 grams (3 tablespoons) butter, unsalted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 cup sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- ⅓ cup heavy cream (slightly less)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- 1-2 tablespoons Amaretto liquor
- nuts, to top
- Combine flour, salt and sugar in a stand mixer. Mix slowly until well-combined.
- Add butter and beat until small balls of butter remain, for a couple of minutes. You want the cold butter balls to remain. Don't over-mix until the butter is not visible!
- Add the egg and 1 tablespoon of the heavy cream. Mix slowly.
- Slowly add additional cream until the mixture starts to form larger pieces of dough. Stop as soon as it starts to come together into large pieces.
- Remove dough and place in plastic wrap in a disk.
- Refrigerate immediately for at least 45 minutes. (Good time to jump to make the filling!)
- Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
- Remove and work quickly (you want to keep this dough cold!) to roll out dough to thin sheet. Work in batches, if needed.
- When rolled to desired thickness (I prefer about ¼"), cut out circles of dough for molds/pan/shells. Remember to test the size before cutting all of the dough. The shell should be pressed firmly into the mold, filling all corners.
- Using a fork, punch small holes in the tart shell base. This prevents puffing of the dough that would ruin the change to fill them properly.
- If making the filling now, put molds back in refrigerator/freezer to keep cool.
- Combine almonds or almond flour, sugar and flour in food processor.
- Process until finely ground.
- Add butter, egg, vanilla and salt.
- Process until combined and paste-like cream forms.
- Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.
- Take cold or frozen tart shells and pipe/pour frangipane filling. about ⅓ way up mold.
- Bake at 350 until shell is golden and filling firm to touch, about 8-12 minutes.
- Remove and let cool.
- Have ALL ingredients prepared and ready to add before starting caramel.
- Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Allow to boil until medium amber color appears. This may take practice! When medium amber color appears, add cream. It will go crazy. Be patient-- It will soon slow down and stop bubbling.
- Immediately remove from heat and stir in butter, salt, vanilla and Amaretto.
- When the caramel has cooled to handle, take tart with cooked filling and top with nuts of your choice.
- Carefully top tarts with caramel mixture. It will surround the nuts, forming a lovely caramel top.
- Let cool and enjoy! These are very rich, but are great topped with powdered sugar.
- Visit SouthernFATTY.com and let us know how much you enjoyed these tarts!
What other tarts have you enjoyed? Let us know below!