My favorite part of a meal shared with friends is that magical moment when the dinner plates have been cleared and the table is littered with empty wine bottles and wrinkled cloth napkins. It’s time for dessert! The husband makes a round of coffees and I dig up a bottle of brandy or maybe a tawny port. The tone of conversation at the table changes as we run out of chit chat. It shifts to talk of dreams, worries, and plans for the future. We listen and share. Time seems to slow down. Though we’re all tired and full, none of us wants the night to end. I grab a stack of dessert plates and everyone gets a slice of Apricot Frangipane Tart. The room is quiet as we savor this sweet end to the meal. It’s a cakey tart with a baked almond batter and a buttery crust. The apricots are a surprise, hidden under the deep-brown caramelized surface. Discovered upon first bite, the tart and juicy fruit is a delight, a reminder that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
A sip of smooth, barrel-aged brandy (or maybe a nip in your coffee?) compliments the buttery, almond-flavored tart perfectly. When there are only crumbs left on our plates and our glasses are empty, it’s time to say goodnight. We hug our friends and send them off into the warm summer night. It’s dark. There are dishes to be done. But maybe we’ll have one more slice of Apricot Frangipane Tart- just the husband and I. We’ll linger over the last of the tart, recapping the evening, remembering how good it is to gather at the table with friends in our home.
Apricot Frangipane Tart
The tart project continues, as I set out to mark each seasonal fruit this year by celebrating it in a tart. I came across this recipe for Frangipane Tart in Elisabeth Prueitt’s book, Tartine. She writes, “Here is a simple, traditional tart for people who don’t like very sweet desserts.” Rather than make her Flakey Tart Dough, I used a ball of dough from the freezer, leftover from baking Martha Stewart’s Lemon Curd Tart. I rolled the dough out and pressed it into my buttered and floured ceramic tart dish, then chilled it in the freezer for half an hour. While the tart shell chilled and the oven preheated, I made the frangipane cream. In Tartine, Elisabeth Prueitt shares two recipes for frangipane cream. The first recipe requires making pastry cream and takes longer to prepare. I went with the quicker, easier, second variation which Elisabeth describes as a classic recipe with a more cakey filling. Sliced almonds are ground and then beaten with sugar and butter. A pinch of salt, a splash of brandy, two eggs and two tablespoons of milk are mixed in until the batter is light and fluffy.
The frangipane cream is spooned into the (chilled) unbaked tart shell. I quartered the apricots and arranged the fruit (cut side up) atop the frangipane cream, sliding the tart into the hot oven to bake for about an hour, until the crust turned golden brown and the filling set. According to Elisabeth, “the filling should feel firm and slightly springy to the touch and the fruit should be tender.” Using the second “cakey” variation of frangipane cream means that the fruit will sink while the tart bakes, so don’t fret when that happens. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with a dark crust.
It’s best to serve the tart at room temperature the day it is baked, but we found it held up nicely in the fridge for a couple of days.