Wednesday, May 23
Don't ever go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. It makes you act like as though you've never had anything to eat before, and that the world is going to come to an end if you don't buy everything in sight...or at least touch it one last time.
What the heck is a grapple? (I don't know, but I still have four of them staring back at me whenever I open the refrigerator.)
One of the perks of my latest hunger-induced, mindless shopping excursions; Almond paste. I hardly ever buy almond paste because I always end up eating it before I can actually bake something.
This time I threw 2 packages in the cart. Thank you, bossy stomach.
I also bought a gazillion pints of strawberries. (Some of which I enjoyed in the parking lot.) Yes, I know they should always be washed, but have you seen all the Tweets about Niles (my cat) lately? Eating unwashed fruit is the closest form of excitement I have these days.
What better way to combine strawberries and almond paste than four fantastic frangipane tartlets? Frangipane is basically a filling that's made out of almonds. And even though it's possible to make your own almond paste, something I can't wait to try, it never hurts to use the store-bought version. (Just be sure to check the date!)
These little tartlets are delightful, and the perfect late-spring dessert. You can make bake the tartlets shells ahead of time, and freeze them until ready to use. The frangipane filling is easy to whip together, and all that's left to do is slice the washed strawberries.
The hardest part about this recipe may be refraining from eating all the almond paste. ;)
*Just a quick note: If you want to print out a recipe, simply click on the little printer icon at the end of each post. (In most browsers, it's right next to the red 'plus' icon thingy.)
Strawberry Frangipane Tartlets
yields four 4 - 41/2-inch tarlets
for the tartlet crusts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners'
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 ounces) very cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (I cut mine up the night before using and froze the bits overnight)
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
for the frangipane
6-7oz of almond paste
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 room temperature eggs
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the topping
About 1 1/2-2cups of sliced strawberries
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
Butter or spray four 4 - 4 1/2-inch tartlet pans. [Note: This recipe will also make a perfect 9-inch crust.]
Combine the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the cold pieces of butter over the dry ingredients, and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely (you're aiming for pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pea-size pieces).Slowly add the egg yolk, pulsing after each addition. Once the entire yolk is in, process in long pulses (about 10 seconds each), until the dough forms clumps and curds. As soon as the dough just begins to come together, turn off the food processor. (It's better to under-work the dough.) Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and gently knead...just enough to incorporate any dry ingredients that may have escaped the blade. Gather it into a ball, and divide the ball into 4 equal pieces.
Press each piece of dough into the prepared tartlet pans. (The sides and bottoms.) Freeze the crusts for 40 minutes.
Center a rack in the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 F.Butter the shiny sides of four pieces of aluminum foil, and press each piece of foil tightly against the crusts. Place the crusts on a large cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or just until the crusts are beginning to turn golden along the edges. (It's okay to peek inside the foil to check.) Remove the partially-baked crusts from the oven and carefully remove the foil pieces. Use the back of a spoon to gently press down on any areas that may have puffed up in the oven. Set the crusts on a cooling rack. Cool completely before adding the filling.
For the filling: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Using your hands, break up the almond past into small chunks and place into the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and beat until well combined. (It'll never quite reach the "creamy" stage, but it should come together on the paddle.) Add the eggs one at a time, and beat to combine (about 1-2 minutes on medium speed per egg). Add the sugar, flour and vanilla, beat for an additional minute.
Divide the filling equally among the partially-baked, cool tartlet shells. Don't fill them too high, because the frangipane will puff up as it's baking. [Cover and refrigerate any remaining filling. It would make an excellent French toast batter!]
Arrange the sliced strawberries in any pattern or design you desire. (But don't press the berries into the filling too much.) Sprinkle the berries with the 1/2 Tablespoon of sugar. Place the filled tartlets on a large cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the filling is puffy and golden brown. [Note: If the crusts are browning too fast, cover them with a loose foil tent.] Remove the tartlets from the oven and onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before releasing them from the pans.
These are best enjoyed a few hours after they are made.
Crust recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Frangipane adapted form Lemon and Anchovies