Sunday, 29 March 2015

Blueberry Frangipane Tarts

I love recipes that produce dishes that are so much more than the sum of their parts. Dishes that look like they required so much more effort than they, in reality, did. These Blueberry Frangipane Tarts are a perfect example of this, and if you just take a little care when lining the tart tins with the pastry, you will be rewarded with finished tarts that taste wonderful and look like you have slaved away in the kitchen in order to create them. 

Although I love cooking and baking there are certain tasks which I find incredibly tedious. For example, I hate lining cake tins and dread the beginning of November each year when I have to bake numerous Christmas Cakes for friends and family so that they have enough time to mature before the festive season. Another task that I dislike is having to blind-bake pastry shells. The thing about both these jobs is that they have to be done correctly and with due diligence and care in order to achieve success. What I love about this recipe is that the pastry does not have to be blind baked in advance so happy days!

Frangipane tarts are infinitely adaptable and although I have used blueberries here, you can use whatever fruits are in season. Soft fruits work wonderfully, but you can also use stone fruits, , just half them and remove the stone and arrange on top of the frangipane. Apples and pears can also be used, but slice them relatively thinly if the fruit is a little hard or if you are not pre-poaching them. Otherwise the fruit could be a little too hard and unyielding when the tarts are baked. I particularly love using halved pears and here it is advisable to poach the pears beforehand until slightly softened and allow them to cool before using. As with most of my recipes, I advise you to experiment and use whatever takes your fancy.
 
I have made an almond frangipane here, but you could use different ground nuts when making it. Hazelnut frangipane goes particularly well with pear and a stunning looking tart can be made using a pistachio frangipane and fresh raspberries when in season (see my recipe for Raspberry & Pistachio Bakewell Tart here).
 
I have made individual tarts but you could bake a single larger tart, if preferred. Roll the pastry out to line a 23cm tart tin with removable base and increase the cooking time by approximately 10 minutes.
 

Ingredients:

Pastry:
175g plain flour
50g icing sugar
100g butter, cubed
1 large egg yolk
1tblsp cold water
Frangipane:
125g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2tblsp plain flour
1tblsp Amaretto (optional)
To finish:
125g blueberries (fresh or frozen)
50g flaked almonds
To glaze the tarts:
50g apricot jam
1tblsp of Amaretto (or water)
 

Method:

Pastry:
1. Sieve the flour and icing sugar together into a large mixing bowl. Add the cubed butter and using your fingertips, rub into the flour and icing sugar until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Make a well in the centre and add the egg yolk and water and mix using a fork until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Turn out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly. Form into a ball. Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes in order to give the pastry a chance to relax.
Frangipane:
3. Place the butter and caster sugar into a mixing bowl and using a hand-held electric mixer, cream together until light and fluffy. Add the ground almond and mix through until fully incorporated. Mix in the eggs and then add the flour and Amaretto, if using. Set aside until ready to use.
To finish:
4. Preheat the oven to 190C/Fan Oven 170C/Gas Mark 5. Roll the pastry out thinly on a clean, lightly floured work surface and use to carefully line 6 x 10cm individual tart tins. Place on a baking tray.
5. Divide the frangipane mixture between the pastry-lined tat tins and spread out using the back of a spoon or spatula so that the surface is level. Sprinkle the blueberries on top of the frangipane, pressing them down very slightly, Scatter over the flaked almonds.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and the frangipane has risen slightly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly while you make the glaze.
Glaze:
7. Put the apricot jam and Amaretto (or water) in a small saucepan and place over a moderate heat. Stirring all the time, bring up to simmering point and allow to bubble for about 2 minutes.
8. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl, discarding any lumps that collect in the sieve. Use a pastry brush to glaze each of the baked tarts with a little of the sieved glaze. Serve the tarts at room temperature with some whipped cream or a little crème fraîche.
 
Makes 6.