My obsession with apricots reaches a fever pitch about this time every year. Apricots from warmer parts of the country start to flood the warehouse stores here in the Northeast. So, on a recent trip to Costco, I gifted myself a flat of darling pinky, peachy, fading to that glorious luminous orange color stone fruit. I was determined that they would not turn to a slag heap in the fridge, where I stashed them when I thought they were ripe.
I wanted to make a tarte, but decided to add a twist by making a frangipane filling versus the traditional custard. Frangipane is a stiffer, almond based filling, popular in Europe, especially in tartes with berries. Frangipane is a shade under marzipan in it’s consistency. More flow than mold consistency. I hadn’t had it in a million years, and faced with a gloomy but humid outside/air conditioned inside Saturday afternoon, I knew I could run the oven for a while without totally heating the house beyond recovery. The tarte starts with a short crust, easily formed in your food processor with flour, sugar ( a little), salt, ice water and very, very cold butter cut into teeny, tiny pieces. Blend in the food processor until the dough is shaggy and turn it out onto a floured board. Just knead it a bit until you can form a dough, then flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic and stick in the fridge to keep while you make the frangipane. I had enough dough to fill a traditional removable bottom tarte pan, plus my two personal size pans that I bought in France. Remember only roll out the dough and fill the pan once the dough is chilled and the frangipane is ready to go.
You can use slivered almonds to make the base of this sticky cream substance but because I keep it in the house for macarons, I used almond flour ( just ground up almonds). So a lot of the work was already done. To the almonds you will add sugar, salt, egg yolks, butter and vanilla and almond extract. Because I was making an apricot tarte, I used apricot extract to bump up the fruit flavor.
Roll out your crust and trim the edge. Using a fork, pierce the dough on the bottom. Freeze for ten minutes while you preheat the oven.
MAJOR BAKING SECRET ABOUT TO BE REVEALED! I recently learned that if you freeze a pie shell or tarte dough before baking, the dough will not shrink and pull away from the pan when blind baking! It’s magic!
Anyway, blind bake the frozen or deeply chilled shell for about 12 minutes until it’s just set. Fill with the frangipane.
Next , I cut the apricots into twelves, each half had 6 slices. This allows them to lay more evenly on the frangipane. I probably could have snuggled a few more pieces in but decided to leave well enough alone. Sprinkle the top with sugar and bake at 425° for about 40 minutes or until the frangipane rises a little and turns a little bit brown. Let cool completely before you slice and you can add fresh whipped cream on top for a real treat.