Pretty, easy and delicious best describes this Italian almond custard tart. Named after a 16th Century Nobleman who invented a bitter almond scented fragrance to perfume gloves, the custard is a very easy and versatile dessert to make. Allowing for a lot of creative license with the various combinations of nuts, fruits and added flavorings that can be used to vary the basic recipe, the dessert will vow your guests and makes for a beautiful centerpiece at any dessert table.
You may have tasted this custard in King Cakes, Pithiviers, Bakewell tarts and even as Croissant filling. A big advantage is that it stores well in your fridge so you can easily make it ahead of time. The tart can be served warm or cold so you can bake it a day or so ahead if you plan to serve it chilled or prepare and freeze it and bake it closer to the time of serving if you prefer it warm. To freeze the tart, blind bake the crust and freeze it and then once it is frozen and cannot get soggy, pour the filling in and freeze it. Thaw in your fridge overnight the day before you wish to serve it and then add your fruit and bake as per instructions below.
Another great way to create an impromptu or low carb version of this dessert is to use the custard without a crust and bake crustless custard cups using a muffin tin, adding fruits, nuts and sugar for a pretty garnish. As I said, once you realize how easy it is to make the actual custard you'll be making it again and again in many different ways! Do comment below when you try it and let me know what you thought of the recipe!
1 Cup Sugar
½ Cup (1 Stick) Unsalted Butter
2 Whole Eggs
2 Egg Yolks
1 Cup and 2 Tablespoons Almond Meal*
2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour
½ Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
½ Teaspoon Almond Essence
3 Small Granny Smith Apples
2 tablespoons Slivered Almonds
1-2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons Sicilian Lemon With Ginger Marmalade
2 Tablespoons Honey
2 Tablespoons Water
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Blind bake your crust with weights for 15 minutes (details in the Notes below).
3.While the crust is baking prepare your almond custard:
A. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer.
B. Add the eggs and egg yolks and beat some more.
C. Gradually add 1 cup of the almond meal till well mixed.
D. Add the vanilla essence, almond essence and 2 tablespoons flour and mix some more.
4. Sprinkle the 2 Tablespoons of Almond Meal on the crust before adding the filling. This insures that the crust will not get soggy.
5.Pour the custard into the crust.
6. Peel, core and slice the apples into thin slices and arrange in circles starting from the outside and working your way into the center.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes till the custard puffs up and the top is a nice rich brown.
8. Toast your almonds and set aside.
9. Prepare your glaze by heating all the ingredients in a small saucepan till you get a thick syrupy consistency. Prepare the glaze when you have about 5-10 minutes left for the tart to be done.
10. As soon as you pull the tart out of the oven brush the glaze on the surface, sprinkle the toasted almonds and the powdered sugar.
11. Cool on a rack for 20-25 minutes before eating as the custard will continue to set as it cools.
1. You can grind your own almonds or use almond meal as long as the package states that the meal is 100% almonds. Some recipes call for blanched almonds and some claim that you can grind whole almonds with the skin on. Almond meal is made with whole almonds and I personally like the texture so I opted to use that. if you want to experiment with other types of nuts, pistachios and hazelnuts are also commonly used in a frangipane tart.
2.Blind baking is a process where you par bake the crust for 15 minutes before adding your filling. The purpose is to prevent a soggy crust. Weights are added to prevent the pastry from puffing up and any beans or even rice can be used if you don't have pie weights.
3.The almond meal is added to the crust before the custard is poured as it absorbs some of the moisture of the custard and prevents sogginess.
4. I had the lemon marmalade so opted to use that. I would recommend any citrusy jam you may have on hand or can find in your store. The glaze isn't essential but adds a nice touch and enhances the flavor of the apples.
5.Slice the apples just before you're ready to place them on your tart as they tend to brown very quickly. If you want them softer you can poach them but if sliced thin they cook quite well in the 40-45 minutes the tart bakes. You can also experiment with other seasonal fruits in this recipe, pears, plums, cherries or berries are often popular choices.
6. Additional flavor is often added to the custard or the fruit if poaching it by using liqueurs. Again feel free to experiment and come up with a recipe perfect for you.
7. if you want to simplify the process and eliminate a step you can add the nuts on top duding the last five minutes of baking and let them toast in the oven rather than toasting them separately.