Almond Tart

1 12-inch tart shell, baked blind
2 ½ cups blanched whole almonds
1 ½ cups unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Optional: Fruit, such as pitted cherries or cubed nectarines, peaches or pears

Tart Shells
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
1 ¾ cups confectioners sugar
A medium pinch of salt
4 cups flour
4 egg yolks
¼ cup cold milk or water

You can make this pastry in a food processor or by hand.  Cream together the butter, sugar and salt and then rub or pulse in the flour and egg yolks.  When this mixture has come together, looking like coarse breadcrumbs, add the cold milk or water. Pat and gently work together to form a ball of dough.  Lightly flour and push, pat and squeeze into shape.  The idea is to get your ingredients into a dough form with the minimum amount of movement.

Roll the pastry into a large, short and fat sausage shape.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to rest for at least 1 hour.  Carefully slice off thin slivers of your pastry lengthways, around 1/8 thick.  Place the slivers in and around the bottom and sides of your tart pan, just fitting together like a sort of jigsaw.  Then simply push the pieces together, level out and tidy up the sides by pushing with your thumb and either cleaning off the excess pastry from the rim of the pan or allowing it to hang over the edge.  Once you have finished lining your tart pan allow it to rest for an hour, preferably in the freezer.  I always line two tart pans and freeze one for another day.

Bake the tart shells for around 12 minutes at 350ºF, which will cook the tart all the way through, coloring it slightly. 


Tart Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a food processor, blitz the whole almonds to a fine powder and put into a bowl. Then blitz the butter and the sugar until light and creamy. Add this to the almonds with the lightly beaten eggs and fold in until completely mixed. Place in the refrigerator to firm up slightly, about 15 minutes. Once it has chilled, fill in the tart shell not too generously or it will spill over.

If making a fruit and almond tart it is always a good idea to pick fruit that is slightly unripe when it is cooked it will contrast with the sweetness of the almond filling. My favorites are fat cherries, nectarines, peaches and pears. Just push the fruit into the almond mixture once you've filled the tart case.

Bake on a tray for about an hour, or until the almond mix has become firm and golden. Allow to cool for about ½ an hour, and serve with ice cream, crème fraiche or vanilla cream.

This tart will keep for 2 days, but it's quite handy to freeze the raw almond mix and the blind-baked tart shell for any surprising and presumptuous friends.