As I write this, it’s raining, cold, and overall dreary. Nothing like the bright and sunny summer peaches above. I’ve been wanting to post this one for a few weeks and as usual, life got in the way! But still, I was in the market Saturday and the last of the local peaches were there. So it’s not completely beyond the pale that this could be on your table. What I really want to introduce to you is the almond cream. Swoon. Almond cream. This stuff is so good, the list of attributes could be very long but I’ll keep it short. It’s really, really good. It’s very easy to make. It can be made ahead of time. There’s no exotic ingredients. Did I say it was really good? The next great thing about this tart is the tart dough. It’s the go-to tart dough for me. And it too can be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it, or even frozen, so that you are always ready to astound and amaze on short notice! I introduced it to you in the Cherry Macaroon Tart, and I’m going to keep using it until you try it. You’re gonna love me for it. Let’s get started!
Peel, pit and slice 3 or 4 ripe peaches. Sprinkle them with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, let them drain in a strainer until you’re ready to use them.
Preheat your oven to 350. Make your tart dough, bake it, and let it cool for at least 25 minutes.
Basic Shortbread Crust with Nuts
1 cup of nuts of your choice (I used blanched almonds here)
1/4 cup of sugar
1-1/4 cup of AP flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
13 tablespoons of chilled unsalted butter (yikes, I know. It’s 1-1/2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon)
Blend the nuts and sugar together in the food processor until the nuts are finely ground. Add the flour and salt and pulse a couple of times until it’s mixed. Add the butter and process until the mixture starts to form a dough ball and pull away from the sides of the food processor. You’ll see it and hear the change in the processor. Turn it out and press together with your hands, and then line the tart pan with it. I use pieces and do the sides first and then the bottom, making sure that there is no gaps, thin spots or seams. Chill in fridge or freezer for 20 minutes and then bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Let it cool. Completely cool is best, but at least 25 minutes out of the oven or it will be too soft to put anything into it.
Make the almond cream, and if your crust isn’t cool enough yet, refrigerate until you’re ready to use it. It can also be made up to 2 days in advance. (Yeah!)
6 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
2/3 cup of sugar
3/4 cup ground blanched almonds
2 teaspoons AP flour
1 teaspoon of cornstarch
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Put the butter and sugar in the workbowl of a food processor and process until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Add the ground almonds and process until well blended. Add the flour and cornstarch, process, and then add the egg. Process about 15 seconds more or until everything is well incorporated. Add the vanilla and process until blended, another 10 seconds or so. Use immediately or refrigerate.
Spread the almond cream in the cooled tart crust, then arrange the drained peaches in a pretty pattern over the top. You don’t need to press them into the cream, just let them sit up there. Bake on the center rack of the oven, on a baking sheet (cookie sheet, sheet tray) for 50 to 60 minutes. The almond cream should be puffed up around the peaches and golden brown. I’d start checking at 40 minutes, and adjust the time as needed for your oven, some run hotter than others.
Now, don’t worry, your wonderful tart won’t look like this. I was in a terrible rush the day I took these and I forgot (smacking forehead and doing my best Homer Simpson Doh!) to take the picture with the final step that makes it happy and shiny. Heat 1/4 cup of peach preserves in the microwave or in a sauce pan on the stove and strain into a bowl. You don’t want the pieces of peach in there. Gently brush (you can also drizzle with a spoon if brushing makes you nervous) the surface of the tart with the melted, strained peach preserves and let cool and dry until you’re ready to serve. Enjoy this at room temperature, as warming it will cause the cream to soften and melt.
A couple of notes:
You can use almond meal in place of ground almonds if you have it. Make sure you keep it in the freezer as nuts will go rancid on you.
As for order of things, I would make the crust, make the cream and refrigerate, and then slice the peaches and let them drain for about 30 minutes. Of course you can do the crust and cream ahead of time and just put it all together the morning or afternoon of the day you want to serve it.
You could substitute apricot jam for the peach if you don’t have it.
And….you could use canned peaches if you wanted to, just drain them, and let them dry on paper towelling before using them.
Almond Cream from Dorie Greenspan’s French Pear Tart