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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rainier Cherry and Almond Frangipane Tart

Rainier Cherries should be celebrated and experienced by all. These aren’t your typical red cherries (which I do love as well), but are a bit more unique and lesser known. They are bigger than most cherries and are yellowish-orange-pinky-red…the colors all sort of swirled together like a beautiful sunset.

Rainier Cherries have a taste that stands up to their beauty. They have a subtle tartness that is softened and made even more delicious by the extra sweet juiciness of their mellow flesh. They are the stage for a very sophisticated balance of flavors that make them intensely appealing…they taste like something both familiar and new.

What better way to show off these fruit jewels than in a lovely tart? A tart that is fruit forward, tastes delicious and is perfectly summer. A Rainier Cherry and Almond Frangipane Tart. Now, how does that sound?

This tart has the sort of rustic, homey appeal of a pie…with refined touches that make it a bit more elegant.

The crust is made with almond flour, which gets deep and nutty when baked. It plays nicely with the Almond Frangipane filling which has a lighter, gentle almond taste.

The cherries are pushed into the uncooked Frangipane filling and the whole tart is then popped into the oven to bake. About 35 minutes later, out comes a lush, beauty of a tart. It is Rainier Cherry Perfection, and simple to make too.

Rainier Cherry and Almond Frangipane Tart

Almond Tart Dough:
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup "AP" (All Purpose) flour
1/2 cups almond flour
1 large egg
1/8 tsp salt

Cut butter into 1" pieces and freeze for 15 minutes.

Sift together sugar, cake flour, AP flour and almond flour into the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add butter, mix on low speed for 2 minutes, or until the butter is the size of broken walnut meats. Stop the machine and by hand pinch flat any large pieces of butter that remain.

Combine egg and salt in a small bowl and mix well. Turn mixer on low speed and add egg all at once. Mix until dough just comes together. If too dry, add 1-2 Tbsp ice cold water. Dough should be tacky but not sticky.

Wrap dough in plastic and chill for 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Roll out dough and line pan. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Fill tart shell with parchment paper and pie weights. Blind bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, then remove pie weights and parchment, and bake another 10 minutes until lightly golden. Cool.

3/4 cup almonds (blanched are recommended, but not necessary)
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick softened butter
2 eggs
2 Tbsp flour
2-3 drops almond extract
~15 Rainier Cherries, pitted and cut in half

Grind the almonds with the sugar in a food processor until the almonds are finely ground. Add the softened butter and process (scrape down from food processor sides if needed). Add eggs one at a time, making sure first egg is thoroughly mixed before adding the next. Add the flour and almond extract and mix well.

Fill cooled tart shell with almond filling, leaving 1/4 inch margin on the rim of the pastry (this leaves room for filling to expand). Then, push cherry halves into the filling (skin side up) and bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes until nicely browned. Let cool on a rack.

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