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cherry & pistachio frangipane tarts

July 31, 2009

Some people like pictures, get carried away into another world as they stare, wide-eyed at the image in front of them. They like colours, shapes, vivid motion captured in still life. Others, like me, are readers. A phrase of five words can sweep us away. Five paragraphs on a page about a person unknown can break or mend a heart. And somehow, in the visually bleak black letters on white paper, an idea is sparked and chuggs off like a steam train. Slowly at first, but then more and more persistently until the visual becomes clear in our heads. This is how I write my recipes.

And so, one bleak Saturday morning, I was leafing through the Gourmet Traveller when my eyes rested at something about placing butter in the freezer and grating it. “Hmm… grated butter” thought I. It was for a pastry, made flat and on an oven tray instead of a flan tin. “A tart without a border?” I pondered. And with that, I was off. Yes, the original recipe called for an almond frangipane and thinly sliced apples, but why do that when one had access to a bag of pistachios? And (after some rummaging) a tin of cherries! Deep, dark red against a brilliant green and an excuse to grate some butter? And with that, the train paused at its station, hoping for passengers.

Cherry & Pistachio Frangipane Tarts

(the pastry recipe is adapted from Gourmet Traveller’s2006 Annual, the frangipane & cherries, however, are the result of me, a calculator, and some guess-timation)

You will need (for the pastry):

150g butter
225g (1.5C) plain flour
35g icing sugar
some iced water

You will also need (for the rest):

200g butter
200g sugar
2 eggs
60g flour
200g pistachios
1x 440g tin of cherries

grate the butter

grate the butter

step one:

Like all pastries, this one needs a little rest, so we’ll start with that first. Pull your butter out of the fridge, and give it a good grating. If you have a not-so-cold fridge, or very warm fingers (mine tend to be akin to ice) stick it in the freezer to firm up for a while first.

combine butter & flour

combine butter & flour

step two:

Next up, tip the flour and sugar in and work it together with a spatula or butter knife. The best way to do this is to cut through the mixture multiple times – like you’re trying to dig to China with the thin end of a knife. You could sieve the flour and sugar into the butter bowl, but that would require cleaning a sieve.

step three:

Grab about 100ml of ice water and add it slowly into the bowl. Mix it with a wooden spoon until it forms a soft dough. Not quite enough? Add a touch more until it feels soft and doughy.

step four:

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a flattish disc before wrapping the lot in gladwrap and putting it to rest in the freezer for an hour or so.

making pistachio meal (love the purple bits!)

making pistachio meal (love the purple bits!)

step five:

While the pastry takes a nap, get your frangipane ready. (And no, we are not talking about the flower). First up, nuts into the food processor and blitz away until you have pistachio meal. I like mine just a touch chunky, but you could keep going until it is lovely and fine.

step six:

Butter & sugar time. Cream them. Toss in two eggs (one at a time) and beat well after each addition. Once that is looking well combined, toss the flour and the nuts in and mix until it is a lovely green-tinged melee. Beautiful.

cut the pastry out

cut the pastry out

step seven:

Pastry can be popped out of the freezer now and rolled out as much as can be done (try for about 2-3mm) between two sheets of greaseproof paper. Do not, as I did, try to roll it out between two sheets of gladwrap (they will tear) or between two silicone baking sheets (they will stick). Not that you’re that foolhardy. Just thought I’d warn you. Just in case.

step eight:

Use a 20-25cm tart tin to cut out a lovely fluted circle (and a cookie cutter to cut out a couple of baby fluted circles) and place them on a line oven tray before popping them back in the freezer they go for half an hour. You might as well stick your frangipane in the fridge during this time to get a little less runny while you’re at it.

lay down the frangipane & add cherries

lay down the frangipane & add cherries

step nine:

When the pastries are done with their chillout session, pull them out of the freezer and start spooning on your frangipane. Carefully now! We want to leave about a 2cm border around the edge of the pastry. I’ll be honest. It’ll run over the edge irrespective, but at least this way it won’t run over the edge quite as much as if you push the frangipane right to the edge pre-baking.

step ten:

Pop the cherries on top. A healthy scattering, co-centric circles if you like, haphazardly if you don’t. These will push the frangipane closer to the edge too, so mind what I said earlier about leaving a border.

baby tarts - delish!

baby tarts – delish!

step eleven:

Last step! Into a 200C oven for 25 minutes (a little less for the baby tarts). When it’s done, trim the overflowed frangipane with a butter knife (it will come away easily) and slide it onto a plate. Can be served hot or cold with whipped cream for an anytime treat.

ps) leftover frangipane can be smeared onto silicone baking sheets and baked til just done and rolled up for decorative purposes or just eaten straight away. Well, not straight away – best to wait til they cool enough to not burn you.


  • #1
    July 31st, 2009

    yum. these look great. and why does the idea of grating butter excite me so? 🙂

  • #2
    August 4th, 2009

    @Helen: Thanks! And oh yes. I know the feeling exactly 🙂

Shez