Almond tarts are simple crowd pleasers - and easy desserts that you can make the night before your work buddy's birthday. This is my go-to recipe when I'm too lazy to make a fresh fruit tart. You only need to prepare two simple parts: a shortcrust pastry, and a couldn't-be-easier almond filling.
For my version of almond tart, I played around with the ratio a little, using half the sugar and butter as traditionally called for, while doubling the almond and egg portion. This makes for a lighter, somewhat custardy filling, that kind of resembles a clafoutis, compared to the traditional rich, crumbly filling that feels more like something between a cookie and a cake. You can't go wrong with the classic ratio, but I've found that between the buttery shortcrust and tart fruit, no one really misses the extra fat and sugar - not even my low-fat-loathing, health-unconscious taste testers!
For the shortcrust:
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1 stick butter, cold
- 6 tbsp powdered sugar (or 5 tbsp granulated sugar)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 tsp vanilla paste/powder, or 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
- 1/2 cup almond powder
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup butter (half-stick), softened
- 1 egg
- blueberries (fresh or frozen - don't thaw if frozen)
- also try: peaches, pears, cherries, mangoes
Cut butter into small cubes. Toss & coat in flour. Using a pastry cutter, cut butter into flour. If you don't have a pastry cutter, just pinch the butter cubes with your hand. Work the butter and flour until mixture resembles breadcrumb. Add sugar; mix well. Then add vanilla & egg. Work the mixture together until it forms a ball of dough. Wrap & chill the dough for at least 15 minutes. You can pat the dough flat to make it chill faster.
Take out the chilled dough. Place it between two sheets of wax paper, & roll it into ~1/4 inch sheet. Line the tart pans with crust dough. Press around the edge. Poke the bottom of the crust with a fork. Place the tart pans back into the fridge to chill, while preheating your oven to 350F. Once your oven is preheated, and your dough is chilled (dough should be hardened to touch), bake the crust for 15~20 minutes, until crust is slightly darkened in color. Chill on a cooling rack.
To make the filling, cream butter with sugar, then mix in the egg, then add the almond. That's all for the filling!
Pour the filling into the tart shell and top with blueberries (or fruits of your choosing - feel free to mix & match). Bake at 350 F until the filling is set & golden on top. Should take no more than 20 minutes for 5" mini tarts and ~35 minute for 9" regular sized tarts.
Notes on the ingredients:
Powdered sugar is basically finely pounded regular sugar with some corn starch mixed in. As avid bakers may know, corn starch is often added to regular flour as a hack to construct cake flour, as the starch prevents gluten formation and leads to a more tender crust. Using powdered sugar in crust dough helps preventing tough, 'overworked' dough. Powdered sugar is slightly less sweet than regular granulated sugar, so you will need to use a little more.
Traditional tart crust calls for just the yolk, plus 2tbsp cold water, instead of the whole egg. If you have extra yolks left from other recipes, use them here. But otherwise, considering that egg whites are 90% water, and 1 egg white is roughly 35grams, and 2 tbsp water is about 30grams - you decide if it's worth the hassle to avoid the ~3grams of protein. Texture-wise, egg white will make the dough puff slightly more, which would be more noticeable in cookies, but hardly detectable in frangipane tarts.
If you have European style butter, the crust is where you want to use them. I wouldn't waste the good stuff on the filling where the difference is less discernible.
Vanilla paste or powder are about 4x as strong as regular vanilla extract. They do cost more per oz, but a little goes a long way. If you enjoy specs of vanilla bean in your dessert, these are worthy upgrades from basic vanilla extract.
Pastry dough cutter: https://amzn.to/2x9zURJ
Regular sized tart pans (8.8") : https://amzn.to/2N91gCn
Mini tart pans (4.75"): https://amzn.to/2NcHmqk
Vanilla bean powder: https://amzn.to/2CKkfhL
Vanilla paste (2oz): https://amzn.to/2xby2bj
Vanilla paste (4oz): https://amzn.to/2x7T62Z