The first time I tasted frangipane I was in France. I had absolutely no idea what I was eating, I just knew it was good. Really. Really. Good. Years later, when I finally put a name to an almond-y filling and found out what’s in it, I was a little disappointed. I was expecting a revelation, but instead I got sugar, butter, almonds, a little flour, and a couple eggs; nothing magic there. But those very ordinary ingredients are transformed into something extraordinary here. It’s essentially a homemade almond paste, but that doesn’t do it full justice – no fake marzipan flavor here; this gets all its flavor just from real toasted almonds. Don’t be fooled by frangipane’s fancy name, it couldn’t be easier to make – if you can make cookies, you can make frangipane.
I’ve been thinking French lately, and also serendipitously staring into a giant bowl full of plums sitting on my kitchen counter. Lucky for me, plums and frangipane are a classic and beautiful combination (really any stone fruits or even berries work well with frangipane.) This tart is hands down the prettiest things to come out of my kitchen recently. Not too sweet, the flavors of the plums and the almonds come through, punctuated with the caramelly notes of butter and the sweet aroma of frangelico. This beauty will make you think you’ve died and gone to Paris. Serve just as it is – warm or at room temperature, it’s perfect for a summer dessert or a snack to eat with tea or coffee. Makes 1 10 inch tart, enough to serve 8-10.
For the Frangipane and Plums
185g, 1 ¼ c raw skin on almonds
185g, ¾ cup + 1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
185g, 1 cup granulated sugar
60g, ½ cup all purpose flour
2 whole eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp frangelico
8-10 plums, thinly sliced
For the Crust
20g, 2 tbsp granulated sugar
170g, 1c + 3 tbsp all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
112g, ¼ lb unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 egg yolk
28g, 3 tbsp very cold water
Toast the Almonds for the Frangipane
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds on a sheet pan in a single layer. Toast for 15 minutes until fragrant. Cool 30-40 minutes and then finely grind in a food processor and set aside.
Make the Crust
Combine the sugar, flour, salt, and butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix until crumbly, with large pieces of butter still visible. Meanwhile, whisk together the cold water and egg yolk in a small bowl. Add the egg yolk mixture to the flour-butter mixture and mix until a dough forms. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Once chilled, place the disc onto a floured work surface and roll into a 14 inch circle. Carefully transfer the rolled dough into a 10 inch tart tin with a removable bottom and push it into the corners of the pan. Fold the excess dough into the tin and push the dough against the sides of the tin so that it sits slightly above the top edge. Place the tart tin into the freezer to chill while you prepare the frangipane and slice the plums.
Make the Frangipane
Combine the ground almonds, butter, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add the flour and mix until well incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again. Fold in the vanilla extract and frangelico. Set aside.
Assemble and Bake the Tart
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the frangipane in the bottom of the tart shell – you won’t need quite all the frangipane for a 10 inch tart. You want the frangipane to come about 2/3 of the way up the side of the tart tin, which should leave you with about ½ to ¾ of a cup leftover.* Arrange the sliced plums in concentric circles beginning at the outer edge of the tart and overlapping slightly. Once you reach the center of the tart, bend the plum slices slightly to fit them into the circle. Bake 1 hour until puffed and golden. To test for doneness, gently lift the tart out of the tin and peak at the edges and bottom – they should be nicely browned. Remove the tart from the oven and cool at least 30 minutes before slicing. To serve, use a serrated knife to gently slice through the plums.
*The frangipane recipe is adapted from a much larger recipe we used at Canto 6 – to get a recipe with an even # of eggs (2, instead of 1 and 3/4) I had to give you one that makes a bit too much for a 10 inch tart pan. But, on the up side, frangipane keeps very well sealed and refrigerated up to one month. A great way to use up the leftover is to make individual size fruit crisps topped with frangipane – just toss any fruit you have on hand (pears, peaches, berries, anything) with a little sugar and a pinch of flour and spoon it into ramekins. Top each ramekin with a few dollops of frangipane and some sliced almonds. Bake at 350 degrees 30-40 minutes until golden and bubbling. You can also spread the frangipane on day old brioche or croissants or challah (store bought or homemade) and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees until golden to make the most insane homemade almond breakfast treats.
I find I often run into similar problems when I bake from books written by chefs or bakery owners (except no one tells me about them.) The recipes have been broken down from large-scale versions and, without enough home kitchen testing, they yield quirky results at home. I wrote about a similar recipe here. Long and short, too much frangipane and your tart with overflow, pushing your pretty plums out and all over your oven. But just enough, and you’ll have a little left over with which to play.