Monday, February 7, 2011

New York Jets Not in the Super Bowl? Let Us Eat Cake! A Tart That Will 'Steel' Your Heart; Who Won the Game?

Yesterday, like most other Americans, we attended a Super Bowl party. Hosted by friends despondent over the New York Jets loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, they countered by throwing a 'super' bash attended by friends and family. Group therapy is always a good idea.

Guests were asked to bring dessert and I seized the opportunity to try out a recipe held over from the summer. Back in July of 2004, Martha Stewart Living magazine had a section devoted to tarts. I saved all of the recipes and this past August was going to make a Plum Tart handsomely illustrated in the issue. Instead, yesterday, I opted for another called Red Grape Tart (originally Fig and Grape) since some very ripe grapes were in the process of fermenting in my refrigerator.

The recipe is in three parts, not especially difficult, but taking the better part of an hour to assemble not counting required refrigerator time. In the end it was delectable, picturesque, very 'continental' and loaded with calories ... but what a way to go. Marie Antoinette would be proud!

My friends suggested, and I concur, that other fruit could be substituted: peaches, plums, apricots or the original season of course, but the red grapes were a pleasant surprise and quite tasty. Since Super Bowl Sunday is over and summer still a bit away, try this for Valentines Day. Nothing says love like three sticks of butter!

You'll need an oblong tart pan with a removable bottom available in most cooking stores.

Pate Sablee
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
4 and a half teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

  • Mix butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Add vanilla, then flour and salt on low speed until crumbly.
  • Do not over mix.
  • Pat the dough into a flat circle and refrigerate for an hour or more.

Almond Frangipane
1 cup blanched almonds, toasted
1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons reserved
1 stick unsalted butter
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk at room temperature
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Put toasted, cooled nuts in food processor with three tablespoons sugar until finely ground.
  • In separate bowl, mix butter and remaining 1 cup of sugar and cream until pale and fluffy.
  • Add whole egg and yolk, missing for two minutes more.
  • Add nut mix, vanilla and salt, mixing for another three minutes.
  • refrigerate until ready to use.

Red Grape Tart
pate Sablee pastry (above)
1 cup almond frangipane (above)
1 cup sweet ripe red grapes halved
1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Directions For Assembling Tart
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Press dough into a 4 inch by 14 inch rectangular tart pan with removable bottom ( do not butter pan).
  • Refrigerate 10 minutes, then trim dough to make it flush with pan.
  • Refrigerate another half hour.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes until crust is golden. Remove from oven and pat dough in middle to create a well or pocket in which to place the Almond mix. Cool for ten minutes.
  • Spread I cup of the Frangipane in the pocket covering the entire bottom.
  • Press red grapes throughout.
  • Sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden for about 45 minutes.
  • Cool on rack, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
The original recipe called for the tart to be served with Gorgonzola Dolce, a sweet Italian cheese, but I decided against it since I didn't have any. The extra frangipane can be frozen for up to a month. The host and hostess luckily had some whipped cream and another guest provided ice cream. Both are nice complements to this very European dessert.

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