Recipe of the Week: Strawberry Frangipane Crostata
Growing up as the daughter of a famous pastry chef sometimes had its problems and at times its rewards. I remember vividly the time I had to help peel hundreds of apples for a special dessert or when I had to separate 200 eggs for a birthday cake or when during the holidays I had to chop nuts for what seemed like hours. Most of the time though having a pastry chef for a mom had its own reward, like enjoying the special treats that she put in my lunchbox or getting to sample desserts right out of the oven while still hot or how much fun it was to spend time with her in the bakery while she was busy at work. My mom, Tilde, had a wonderful reputation as a pastry chef in Bologna, Italy. In fact, she was the first Italian female pastry chef to win the blue ribbon in Paris for one of her desserts. It was like winning the Oscar for dessert making. I want to share with you one of my mom’s desserts, a delicious strawberry frangipane tart that will literally melt in your month. Serves eight. (Chef tip: Frangipane cream is a delicious blend of almonds, eggs, vanilla, sugar and flour.)
1 cup strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam, warmed
For the pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound very cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons ice water
For the frangipane:
1 cup toasted almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the pastry, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the ice water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine, stop the machine just before the dough becomes a solid mass.
Turn the dough onto a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450F. Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer it to a tart pan and press into the pan. Cover it with parchment paper and top with pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and the paper.
For the frangipane, in a food processor grind almonds with 1/4 cup granulated sugar until finely ground. Add flour and mix. In a separate bowl or mixer, cream together butter and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, until combined. Add paste and combine. Add flour mixture in three stages, mixing just until combined. Spread frangipane filling evenly in par-baked tart shell.
Warm the strawberry jam and toss with fresh berries. Artfully arrange strawberry halves over frangipane. Lower the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake the crostata for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the frangipane is set. Allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with a drizzle of any remaining strawberry jam.