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Fruit Tart with Almond Cream

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Time: Approximately 1 hour 30 minutes active; 20 minutes to make the dough (refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight), 30 minutes to roll out the dough and bake the tart shell, 10 minutes to prepare and spread the almond cream, 30 minutes to cut and arrange the fruit and glaze the top.

Serves: 8

Inspired by: I’ve always thought this was one of the most beautiful desserts, but it never occured to me to try and make it. I just assumed this was something you picked up at a bakery. But in reading through some recipes, it didn’t seem any more difficult or time consuming than some of the other desserts I make now and then. I had some girlfriends for dinner last night so I thought I’d experiment on them. Then Ron mentioned to me that it should have an almond flavor, which sounded fabulous, so I started googling recipes that used marzipan or almonds in some way or another.  I decided to use the sweet tart shell recipe that Alice Waters provides in her book “The Art of Simple Food”. I really trust her detailed notes and tips when I’m trying something for the first time. I’ve included some of her tips below. The almond cream filling idea comes from a recipe in Bon Appetit, May 1993. I would definitely make it this way again rather than with the traditional cream filling!

Supplies: 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom.

Ingredients – Sweet Tart Dough:

* This is also the amount of dough to make six 4″ tarts or 30 cookies.

  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick) – soften for 15 minutes at room temp before using
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk (at room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

Ingredients – Almond Cream Filling:

  • 1 7oz package almond paste (marzipan)
  • 3-4 tablespoons whipping cream

Ingredients – Fruit Topping & Glaze:

  • Any fruit arranged pretty works for this – strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, banana, nectarine
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam

Sweet Tart Dough Preparation:

  • Beat the butter with a wooden spoon or mixer until it is soft and fluffy.
  • Add the sugar to the butter and beat it until creamy.
  • Add salt, vanilla extract and egg yolk and mix well until completely combined.
  • Add flour, stir and fold, and continue to mix well until there are no dry patches.
  • Use your hands to gather the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic. Flatten into a disk and chill for at least 4 hours until firm  (you can chill it overnight or keep it in the refrigerator for two nights, or in the freezer for 2 months, but if frozen, let it thaw overnight in refrigerator before using).
  • When you are ready to use it, take it out of refrigerator and give it 20-30 minutes to soften.
  • It’s much easier to roll it out between two sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper. Flour the sides of the dough and the insides of the waxed paper and start rolling and turning a bit as you roll – add flour as needed. If it gets too soft and sticky while rolling, put it on a baking sheet and let it rest a few minutes in the refrigerator before continuing. Roll the dough out to be 12” in diameter to fit a 9” tart pan.
  • Peel the paper off the dough and lightly prick it all over with a fork (this keeps it from bubbling up while baking).
  • Invert the dough over the pan and press gently into the edges. Use your thumb to press off excess off the top. Patch cracks with extra dough.
  • Excess dough can be rolled out again and used for cookies – make a thumb print and fill with jam or lemon curd.
  • Let the dough rest (chill it in the refrigerator) just a bit while preheating the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until an even light golden color. Halfway through baking, remove the tart shell from oven to pat down any bubbles that may have formed. It helps to put the tart pan on a baking sheet so it is easier to pull in and out of the oven without touching the dough.
  • Let pastry cool before unmolding and filling.

Almond Filling Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Mix the almond paste and whipping cream in a food processor until blended really well. Start with 3 tablespoons of the whipping cream but if it still feels too thick and firm, add another tablespoon.
  • Spoon the filling into the center of the tart and spread evenly.
  • Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let it cool completely.

Fruit Topping Preparation:

  • Wash and slice your fruit into the size pieces or slices you’d like to use to decorate the top.
  • Arrange the fruit decorativey on the tart. Try to keep it off the sides of the tart shell or it might get soggy.
  • Make a glaze by melting the apricot jam in a heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. You can add a liquor such as grand marnier if you’d like. Strain the heated liquid so that you have at least 1 tablespoon of warm glaze without any pulp from the jam.
  • Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the top of the fruit with the glaze. I suggest keeping it super light and don’t cover the tart crust – this is just to make the fruit look glossy.
  • This can be prepared a few hours before serving. You can keep the tart in the refrigerator and take it out about an hour before serving.

Additional Notes:

What to do if you mess up your crust? About a third of the side crust broke off my tart because it didn’t cool properly. Just get creative with how you decorate!

What to do if you have left over dough? I tend to eat it along the way – it is so so so yummy! But I did double my dough so I could make “thumb” cookies. Just make small balls of dough, press your thumb into them, touch up the cracks on the sides, and bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and fill with your favorite jam filling. I used black cherry and apricot jam. Then bake again for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool!

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