People who know me would tell you that it's hard to tell which I like more: gardening or cooking. I'd say it depends on which I'm doing at the moment. Anyway, French cooking and French gardening go hand in hand. For me, cooking is an on-going adventure. Join me here on my culinary explorations, where I share with you both my old favorites as well as new inspirations. It's my fondest wish that these recipes serve as a springboard for your own new creations.
06/29/2010 Cherry frangipane tart (Tarte de griottes à la frangipane)
1 recipe tart pastry (see Basics) 1 lb. very ripe 'sour' cherries 2 t. fresh lemon juice 1 c. sugar 2 large eggs 1 c. ground blanched almonds* 2 T. unsalted butter at room temperature few grains of salt Few drops almond extract (optional)
*If not using pre-ground almonds, blanch 1 1/4 c. almonds and grind them with 1/2 c. sugar in a food processor.
Pit the cherries using a cherry pitter (inexpensive manual tool available in kitchen shops). Hold them over a bowl as you do it to catch the juice. Toss them with the lemon juice and 1/2 c. of the sugar. Cover and allow to macerate 1-2 hours in a cool place.
Roll out the pastry to line, if possible, a clay tart pan (clay pans make much crisper, nonsoggy crust.) Refrigerate. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
In a food processor, mix the remaining sugar, ground almonds, eggs, butter, and salt. Add a few drops almond extract if your almonds are not very flavorful. Mix until smooth.
Spread the frangipane filling over the tart pastry, smoothing it with a rubber spatula. (It should be thick in texture.)
Drain the cherries, reserving the juice in a small saucepan. Sprinkle the cherries over the frangipane. It doesn't matter if there are some spaces between the cherries. Bake the tart until puffy and golden between the cherries.
Meanwhile, bring the reserved cherry juice to a boil and reduce until it has a light syrupy consistency (it will thicken as it cools). Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool 10 minutes. Reheat the cherry glaze gently if necessary and drizzle it over the tart.
Note: The rich almondy frangipane is the perfect complement to the tart cherries. Plan to serve about 1 hour after removing from the oven for optimal perfection.