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ave you ever noticed how the everyday food world is divided into cooks and bakers? There are cooks who, when asked to replicate a recipe, can answer only, “Well, you take a pinch of this and a dash of that …” A pinch? Bakers, on the other hand, reply, “First you take 1 3/4 cups of softened butter …” Bakers tend to be more precise.
My daughter, Courtney, is a baker. She seems to revel in the creative, exacting baking process, coming up with exquisite desserts. This prune, cherry and apricot frangipane tart is one of them. I was curious about it when Courtney described it to me. When I tasted it I was impressed with the combination of fruit flavors, almond and hint of brandy. It was simply delicious. What a baker Courtney is! No wonder her friends ask her to do the desserts for their weddings.
RECIPE: Prune, Cherry and Apricot Frangipane Tart
Dried fruit compote: 2/3 cup pear brandy 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar 1/2 cup pitted prunes, halved 1/3 cup dried cherries 1/3 cup dried apricots
Pastry dough for an 11-inch round tart pan with removable bottom
Frangipane filling: 7 ounces almond paste (not marzipan, about 1 cup) 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened 3 tablespoons sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract 2 large eggs 3 tablespoons flour
To prepare dried fruit compote: Heat pear brandy with sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Add fruit and gently simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat and let macerate (soften by soaking), stirring occasionally, 24 hours.
To prepare tart shell: Set the tart pan on a baking sheet. Roll dough on slightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch round, then fit into the tart pan and trim excess dough. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in the middle. Lightly prick bottom of shell all over with a fork, then line with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until side is set and edge is pale golden, 18–20 minutes. Remove foil (cont.) and weights and bake until bottom is golden, about 10 minutes more. Cool completely in pan, about 30 minutes. Leave oven on.
To prepare frangipane filling and bake tart: Beat almond paste, butter, sugar, salt and almond extract in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in flour. Spread frangipane filling in cooled shell. Drain fruit in a sieve set over a bowl, reserving syrup, and spread fruit over filling, pressing in slightly. Bake until puffed and golden, 30–40 minutes. Transfer tart to cooling rack. Brush reserved syrup over tart and cool to warm or room temperature.
Nancy Lynch, a self-taught cook from a family of foodies, teaches cooking classes at Orange Tree Imports and All Through the House.
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