Mother’s day is this Sunday and I’m making a little brunch for my Mom. I am usually pretty casual when it comes to brunch; shakshuka, avocado toast and scones are some of my favorite weekend mainstays. However, I wanted to make something a little fancier for this Sunday and these tartlets fit the bill.
Simple yet elegant, they start with a sweet tart dough. Like pie crust, pate brisee is made with butter and flour. But here, the butter is cut in finer, an egg yolk enriches things, and confectioner’s sugar gives these tart shells their crisp, cookie-like snap. The tart shells are pre-baked (no need for pie weights!) and then filled with frangipane. Frangipane is merely a mixture of almonds, butter, sugar and eggs, but it’s so light, creamy and nutty, it tastes like more than the sum of its parts. It’s commonly used in bostock, almond croissants and french pastries, and I just love it in a fruity tart.
I decided to top these tartlets with apricots- they’re finally starting to come into season, and I am so excited they’re back, I just had to use them! Apricots work really well here because they are slightly tart and they offset the sweetness of the crust and filling. The frangipane puffs up as it bakes and envelops the apricots, which turn soft and almost custardy, and the tartlets are showered with confectioner’s sugar before they’re served.
These tartlets are beautiful, easy to make, and fun to share. I plan on serving them alongside a frittata, a big green salad, and with multiple cups of tea.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the wonderful mothers out there, and especially to mine! Keep on doing what you’re doing. You’re the best.
Yields: four 5″ tartlets (or one large 9″ tart- see below)
Why I love this recipe: a basic and simple pate brisee is the base for these French tartlets and it bakes up golden, buttery, crumbly and sweet. The soft and lightly nutty frangipane puffs up in the oven and is the perfect backdrop to tart, floral apricots. These tarts are beautiful, easy and highly adaptable for any occasion.
Notes: you can use this recipe to make one large 9″ tart instead of four small ones. Use four apricots instead of two and pit, halve and slice them as directed below, fanning them out in a circular pattern on the tart.
Variations: use plums or peaches instead of apricots. Dot the frangipane with berries instead of stone fruit. Use an equal amount of ground walnuts or pistachios (by weight, that’s around 130 grams) in place of the almond flour.
For the tart dough:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 egg yolk (reserve the white for the frangipane)
- 2 tablespoons cold water
For the almond frangipane and apricots:
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 scant cup almond flour
- 1 egg, plus egg white reserved from above
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 ripe apricots, pitted and halved
- Start by making the tart dough. In a big bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the butter and cut it in with your hands until it is the size of small peas.
- Add the yolk and mix together until it is evenly distributed. Slowly drizzle in the cold water until the dough starts to hold together.
- Lightly butter your tart pans and gently press some dough into each pan. Make sure to evenly coat the bottom and sides. Save any extra dough to repair cracks later on. Freeze the tart shells for 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 375° F and bake the tart shells until they are lightly golden, 15-20 minutes. If the shells puffs up while baking, carefully use an offset spatula to gently press them back into their pans.
- Repair any cracks that may have formed by filling them with your leftover dough as soon as the tartlet shells come out of the oven. Cool shells on a rack while you prepare the frangipane.
- In the bowl of the food processor, combine the butter and sugar and pulse until smooth. Add the almond flour and blend until well combined.
- Add the flour, followed by the egg and egg white and finally the vanilla extract and salt. Mix until just combined.
- Now, assemble and bake: Preheat the oven to 350º F. Divide the frangipane into each of the cooled tart shells, and spread it so that it is smooth.
- Decorate the top of each tartlet with an apricot half, sliced and fanned out in a decorative pattern.
- Place the tartlets on a baking sheet and bake until the crust and frangipane are golden and set, 25-30 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack and dust with confectioner’s sugar just before serving.