This festive almond tart, which makes an ideal Easter dessert, has a macaroon-like filling that’s speckled with fine shards of dark chocolate, and a lattice topping of tender pastry. The recipe was adapted from one that was given to me by my good friend Judith Sutton, who originally included it in an article she did for Food & Wine magazine many years ago. Judith’s recipe, in turn, was adapted from one that came from Carlo Middione’s classic book, The Food of Southern Italy (William Morrow, 1987). I serve the tart topped with a dollop of Mascarpone Whipped Cream and a generous sprinkling of salty-sweet slivered almonds. The tart can be made up a to a day in advance, but shouldn’t be refrigerated.
Makes 8 servings
- 2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 10 tablespoons (141 grams) unsalted butter, cubed and frozen for at least 15 minutes
- ¾ cup (86 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 3 large (54 grams) egg yolks (save whites for filling)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 2 1/2 cups (312 grams) almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 ounces (85 grams) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for glazing
Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
- 1/2 cup (116 grams) heavy cream
- 1/2 cup (121 grams) mascarpone cheese
- 3 tablespoons (21 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sweet & Salty Almonds:
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) water
- 1/2 cup (60 grams) slivered almonds
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling
Make the tart dough:
- Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Scatter the frozen butter cubes on top and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the confectioner’s sugar, egg yolks and vanilla and process just until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to a work surface and shape it into two even discs. Wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 2 days).
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one of the dough discs into a 12-inch round. Roll the dough up on the rolling pin and transfer it to a 9-inch tart pan. Press it gently into the pan without stretching it. Trim the overhang to ½ inch and fold it in, pressing it against the sides to form a lip ¼ inch above the pan rim. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell at 1-inch intervals. Refrigerate the tart shell for 30 minutes to firm up.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the remaining disc of dough into an 11-inch round. Transfer the round to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375˚F. Line the tart shell with parchment paper or foil and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the shell for 15 minutes. Remove the paper or foil and weights and bake for about 2 minutes longer, just until the dough has lost its raw look. Let cool slightly. Leave the oven on.
Make the filling:
- To get rid of any lumps in the almond flour, blend it in a food processor for a few seconds or pass it through a medium-mesh sieve.
- Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar, then increase the speed to high and whip until the whites are stiff and glossy. Using a large rubber spatula, gently but thoroughly fold in the almond flour, one-half at a time, then fold in the chopped chocolate. Scrape the filling evenly into the partially baked tart shell and smooth the surface.
- Remove the rolled-out dough from the refrigerator and, with a fluted or plain pastry wheel (or sharp knife), cut it into ten ¾-inch-wide strips. Evenly lay 5 parallel strips across the tart; lay the remaining strips diagonally across them to form a diamond lattice. Trim the ends of the strips flush with the tart shell and press them into the filling. Brush the pastry with the egg glaze.
- Bake the tart for 30 minutes, or until the filling is puffed and golden and the pastry is light golden brown. Transfer to a rack and let cool to room temperature. (The tart can be made up to 1 day ahead; do not refrigerate.)
Make the Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
- Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until the cream forms soft peaks when the whisk is lifted.
Make the Sweet & Salty Almonds:
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the nuts and stir to coat them evenly with the syrup. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has evaporated, and the nuts are a deep golden brown. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, stir in the salt, and then turn the nuts out onto the prepared baking sheet. Using a silicone spatula, spread them into an even layer and allow them to cool completely.
- Once the nuts are cool, break them into bite-sized pieces.
Serve the tart:
- Right before serving, dust the top of the tart with confectioners’ sugar and serve topped with dollops of Mascarpone Whipped Cream and a sprinkling of the almonds.