Desserts is the biggest recipe category on my blog and if I had to pick my top five favorite dessert recipes this heavenly tart would be on the short list. I hadn’t been blogging more than a few months when I posted the recipe back in 2008 and I don’t think it was seen by more than a few dozen readers. I made it for Easter brunch last week and thought I would share it again because it’s a recipe we love and it’s oh, so good. My mother first made this tart for my daughter when she was in high school and it was the recipe she always requested when we celebrated special occasions. The recipe is hand written on a small sheet of paper and my mom didn’t make a note of where she got it. I found a very similar recipe on David Lebovitz’s blog where he wrote that ” the recipe came from Lindsey Shere who was the executive pastry chef and co-owner of Chez Panisse. Her Almond Tart was the most infamous dessert at Chez Panisse for decades until too many customers apparently had a hard time eating it with a fork, so off the menu it went.” I think David makes this recipe sound much more complicated than it is and I probably wouldn’t have tried it had I read his blog post about it first. It is a cross between a tart and a cookie and we have never had a problem using a fork to eat it. If it’s baked in a rectangular pan it can be cut into bars and eaten without a fork. Either way, it is so delicious and caramely and nutty that using a utensil or not is insignificant. His post is interesting and he goes through the steps of making this tart so if you are a fan of his like I am you might want to read what he writes about this fantastic, infamous dessert.
The tart crust can be made in a food processor as well as by hand with a pastry blender. Cut the butter into small chunks and add to the flour and salt in the processor bowl. Process to a coarse meal, then add egg yolks and pulse a time or two until blended. If the dough doesn’t hold together add a tablespoon or two of ice water and process a few seconds until it forms a ball. Press the dough onto the bottom and sides of a tart pan with a removable bottom. Don’t try to roll it out. It’s too sticky and you will have a giant mess on your hands. Don’t worry if the crust doesn’t look perfect. The filling covers it up. Save a walnut size piece of dough to make any little repairs in the crust after it bakes the first time. Sometimes little cracks appear and a patch with the raw dough prevents the filling from oozing out and burning.
Cook the whipping cream and butter in a saucepan for 5 minutes and then add the flavorings and slivered almonds. The mixtures doesn’t thicken up at this point so carefully ladle it into the tart crust. Evenly distribute the almonds with the side of a silicone spatula. In David’s post he wrote about the tart forming a nut crust and the necessity of breaking it up with a spatula. I have never had that problem, but bubbles do form on the filling as it bakes and I use the side of the spatula to pop them for a smoother top. Just a little tap or two does the trick. Do this several times during baking.
Bake the tart in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes until it is a nice golden brown. Let it cool on a wire rack and then check to make sure there aren’t spots where the crust is stuck to the removable ring of the pan. If there are, gently loosen the crust with the tip of a small paring knife.
All the gooey caramel holds the nuts together well enough that pieces can be picked up and eaten like a cookie. It can even be made in a rectangular baking pan if you want to cut it into squares and make finger food out of it. I served it with a small scoop of French vanilla ice cream. A bit of whipped cream is delicious as well.
I managed to snag this last sliver of tart before it was too late so you at least can see how caramely and full of almonds it is. This dessert is so good I’m thinking of making another one so I can have a bigger slice. I don’t usually eat dessert right after dinner and am hungry for it later in the evening or even with a cup of coffee in the morning. I better get baking because I definitely need a bigger piece.
- 2 cups flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- ¾ cup butter
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1-2 tablespoons ice water if needed
- 1-1/2 cups whipping cream
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- ½ teaspoon grated orange peel
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups sliced almonds
- dash salt
- Blend flour, sugar and butter with a pastry blender. Stir in the egg yolks and mix till dough forms a ball. You can also make this dough in a food processor. Press onto the bottom and sides of a 11 – 12 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Don’t try to roll out this pastry. Spread evenly and bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes.
- Combine whipping cream, sugar, orange peel and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla, salt, orange peel and almonds. Carefully pour into shell and bake at 375 degrees till lightly browned, about 30 – 35 minutes. Watch carefully. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Carefully loosen the crust from the tart rim and cool completely..