When I was a chef at Parigi in Dallas in the 1980s, we made this tart every week. It's more like a nutty cookie than a tart, and is chewy, buttery and delicious. The original recipe is in the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook by Alice Waters, but Lindsey Shere, one of the first bakers there, made it famous. I was recently reminded of its deliciousness by David Liebowitz, an American ex-pat and former Chez Panisse chef who is now living in Paris, when he posted a picture of it on his Instagram feed. I was immediately transported back to my Dallas days and began to wonder why I had not made this circle of divine yumminess in so long. Well, here it is once more, not to be forgotten ever again. Just ask my friends Sheila, Mike, Tim and Cynthia, who are still in dessert coma at last check!
Caramelized Almond Tart
1 c flour
1 T sugar
1/2 c chilled unsalted butter, cut into little cubes
1 T ice water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 c heavy cream
1 c sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 c sliced almonds
1/8 tsp almond extract
2 tsp Grand Marnier or Amaretto (the original recipe calls for kirsch if you have on hand)
For the dough
Mix the flour and sugar in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is in very small pieces, the size of rice. It should be pretty well-integrated with no large visible chunks. Add the water and extracts and mix until the dough is smooth and comes together. Press into a flat disk, wrap in plastic and chill thoroughly. Let the dough come to room temperature and press the dough into a 9"-10" tart shell using your hand. Save a little bit of dough to patch the shell if holes form during baking. It takes some practice but don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. Try to get the dough relatively flat on the bottom, and push it evenly up the sides, a little bit above the edge of the pan, with your thumbs. Put the tart shell in the freezer and chill thoroughly. To bake the shell, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the shell for 20-30 minutes, until it is set and light golden-brown. Remove from the oven and patch any holes with leftover dough.
For the tart filling
To bake the tart, line the rack under the one you plan to use with a sheet of aluminum foil to catch any spills and drips. Heat the cream, sugar, and salt in a big, wide heavy-duty pot (use one that’s at least 4 qts) until it begins to boil. Continue to cook and when it starts to foam up, remove it from the heat and stir in the almonds, the almond extract, and the liquor. Scrape the filling into the shell. Make sure that everything is evenly distributed, then put the filled tart shell into the oven. Bake, remove the tart from the oven when the filling is the color of coffee with a light touch of cream in it and there are no large pockets of gooey white filling, about 30 minutes. Let the tart cool a few minutes on a cooling rack.
*Advanced Planning: The dough can be made in advance, and chilled (maximum 4 days) or frozen longer. The dough, once pressed in the tart pan, can be frozen. Wrap in plastic if you don’t plan to bake it within 48 hours. Once made, the tart should be kept at room temperature. If not eaten the same day, wrap in plastic wrap. The tart is best the first day but can be kept for up to 4 days.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"