Almond Tart

lindsey shere almond tart

This buttery almond tart was served on opening night of the fabled Chez Panisse, the Berkeley restaurant that’s credited with inventing California cuisine and considered the forebear of the modern farm-to-table movement. You’ve heard of Alice Waters? Of course you have. But have you heard of Lindsey Shere?

Lindsey was Chez Panisse’s pastry chef for the better part of three decades, and she’s without a doubt the baker I admire most. Her desserts are, to my mind, perfection: seemingly effortless (though not always simple to make), seasonal, French-inflected, rustic, restrained. You can keep your fussy pâtisserie towers and your cutesy cupcakes; I’ll have what Lindsey’s baking, thank you.

Her elegant almond tart, a signature dish, bears a sophisticated contrast in textures: the candy bar chew of a caramelized filling, the crunchy snap of toasted almonds, and a flaky-crisp, buttery tart shell. It’s just sweet enough to signal it’s a dessert: I had a slice with my coffee for breakfast (research purposes!) and didn’t feel the need to brush my teeth again.

And I know. It’s resolution season, and we’re all reigning in the calories. I certainly don’t want to undo anyone’s good progress, but believe me when I tell you this tart is worth the effort in both the kitchen and the gym. Besides, anyone can cheat on their New Year’s diet with cheap junk food (Alice Waters would be so very disappointed), but why not do it with some style?

unbaked tart shellChez Panisse’s Almond Tart
adapted from Lindsey Shere’s Chez Panisse Desserts

for the tart dough:

  • 1/2 C butter (one stick or 4 oz), cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3-4 drops pure vanilla extract
  • 3-4 drops almond extract
  • 1 Tbsp cold water

for the filling:

  • 1 C heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp Grand Marnier or Cointreau
  • 2 drops almond extract
  • 1 C sliced almonds

In a food processor, add the flour, salt, sugar and butter. Process in one-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with some pea-sized bits, or about 10-15 pulses.  In the now-empty cup measure, mix the cold water and extracts. Remove the lid of the processor and sprinkle the liquid over the dry mixture. Replace the lid and process until the dough just barely comes together. (When the noise your processor makes changes pitch, stop.) Pat together on a piece of plastic wrap and smush into a round disc. Wrap and let the dough rest in the refrigerator for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the cool-but-pliable dough and press into a 9″ tart ring, about 1/8″ thick at the bottom and peeking out over the edge about 1/8″ (I tucked in the edges, like you might for a pie shell, to get my 1/8″ of dough to stand up over the edge; the dough will shrink down some when you bake it.) Reserve any extra dough. Prick all over the bottom of the shell, lightly with a fork. (At this stage you may refrigerate or freeze the dough.)

Pre-bake the shell at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until it’s set. Cool to room temperature and patch any holes with the leftover dough.

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

Prepare the filling: in a heavy saucepan, bring the remaining ingredients (except the almonds) to a full boil. Cook for about 5 minutes; the mixture will be bubbly and glossy and will want to boil over, so watch carefully. Remove from the heat and add the almonds, allowing to steep for 15 minutes. Pour the almond filling into the tart pan, spreading the almonds out evenly.

Bake on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet (in case of spills) about 30-40 minutes, rotating the sheet periodically, and more frequently in the last 10 minutes of baking so that the filling browns evenly. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely and serve.

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About scarpettakate

Scarpetta Dolcetto celebrates simple, seasonal, scratch home cookery.
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20 Responses to Almond Tart

  1. Holy smokes! I think I could eat this entire tart in one sitting! Looks fabulous!!

  2. This looks incredibly yummy! I wish I had a slice to with my coffee. 🙂

  3. I’ll keep my pâtisserie towers and cutesy cupcakes but I’ll take Lindsey’s baking as well! 🙂

    – Anthony

    http://www.vincentbakery.wordpress.com

  4. foodelf says:

    If I could have only one dessert book, this would be it. Mine is a much splattered first edition that has served its time in my various kitchens … the blood orange tart is amazing!

  5. Liz says:

    Uh, oh…I think I need this cookbook. My mom would eat a piece of pumpkin pie for breakfast nearly every Friday after Thanksgiving…so I approve of your lovely almond tart with your AM coffee. Thanks for sharing a marvelous looking recipe!

  6. Claudia says:

    In addition to all the wonder flavorings, it is so very elegant.

  7. I love almond tarts and with a Chez Panisse recipe, I’m sure this tastes as good as it looks. 🙂

  8. Cristina says:

    I luv everything about this recipe – the buttery crust and almonds galore. Thanks for sharing …saved to recipe file and may just make it this weekend!

  9. That tart looks beautiful! I’d love to just have a little taste of your crust!

  10. Thanks for the notes, ladies! This tart dough is totally my new go-to. Quick (Shere does it by hand, but I made it in the processor), flaky and browns up beautifully!

  11. wow, this is completely eggless! I have to bookmark it. I’ve been on a nut kick recently. nuts are awesome. we should cook with them more! this recipe looks great. i cannot wait to try it. thanks! cheers.

  12. Wow this looks beautiful and thanks for the background info on Lindsey Shere too! Will def have to give this recipe a try.

  13. Sara says:

    I have no new years resolutions. does that mean I get the whole tart? Because, you know…I could totally eat it. And I’m with you: cupcakes and fancy desserts are beautiful but I would totally go for a rustic dessert too

  14. Pingback: Moroccan Braised Chicken | scarpetta dolcetto

  15. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for sharing. My list of ‘must tries’ is piling up but I may move this one up on the list as the crust and filling must make for a perfect bite!

  16. Hello! I adore receiving your recipes and posts in my inbox. I am quite jazzed to make this tart, and already bookmarked your Moroccan chicken….

  17. sarah says:

    thank you for sharing this recipe! i tried it and it tastes sooooo good !! 🙂
    THANK YOU!!!

  18. Pingback: Warm Kabocha Squash Salad | scarpetta dolcetto

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