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July 17, 2007

An Abundance of Summer


Back in the blogosphere...a happy sigh that my computer is up and running again! I'm glad I finally get to share some of what's been happening in my kitchen - a lot of sweet, succulent, summer fruit!

It's been a pleasurable challenge trying to keep up with the abundance of fruit coming my way - blush-colored peaches and nectarines, raspberries and blueberries bursting out of their cartons, watermelons stacked in their enticing hefty greenness. Here are a couple recipes I've made, out of the dozens begging to be made:


White Peach and Raspberry Tart with Pistachio Frangipane

What speaks the language of summer better than a fruit tart?  This, however, is a bit of a twist on the traditional berries-and-pastry cream combination. The last time I made frangipane, it was for a rich, autumn-colored tart. It turns out frangipane makes a perfectly delectable cushion for some ripe peaches and raspberries as well. The piquant nuttiness of the pistachio frangipane plays off beautifully against the floral, honeyed sweetness of the peaches and the puckery tartness of the raspberries. As well, I think the frangipane gives the tart a bit of heft and substantialness that makes it ideal for dessert after dinner, perhaps with a glass of muscato.

Instead of making the tart shell out of pâte sablée, I used pâte sucrée instead, to enhance the delicate sweetness of the dessert. A little trick I learned - brushing the par-baked tart crust with a light coat of egg wash before filling it - prevents the crust from getting soggy and preserves its perfect buttery crispness. I found this tart visually stunning as well; the vividness of the red raspberries and green frangipane in golden crust perfectly epitomizes the luminous vibrancy of summer.


Raspberry Blanc-manger

This simplest of desserts that defies simple description: it is famed as a classic French sweet, yet variants of it have been found all over Europe; it is described variously as a pudding, a glorified Jell-o, or a cousin to panna cotta. Perhaps Escoffier describes it best; he called it, "one of the best sweets served."

Although blanc-manger is beloved as the can't-fail dessert of French newlyweds, the keys to this dessert's appeal are its utterly smooth texture and its pure white color. Not surprising that such a soothing-seeming creation would have been served to the infirm and indisposed back in the Middle Ages as a balm. But in its current incarnations, blanc-manger is far from bland. Made with almond milk sweetened with sugar, folded with softly whipped cream, its meltingly ethereal - like biting into one of those big fluffy cumulus clouds up in the blue summer sky.

Perhaps because it also bears a passing resemblance to one of my favorite Asian desserts, almond tofu (actually an almond-flavored gelatin usually served with a mix of fruits), it is easy to see how well blanc-manger takes to the addition of other flavors - it's like the perfect white canvas. I followed Dorie Greenspan's example and tossed in some more of my raspberries, turning the dessert from stark to striking. A drizzle of raspberry coulis is about all the dressing up this dessert needs - just right when you want to keep things nice and simple while enjoying the pleasures of summer.


White Peach and Raspberry Tart with Pistachio Frangipane

adapted from Regan Daley's In the Sweet Kitchen

makes one 9-inch tart or five 3 1/2-tarts

Pâte Sucrée

1 1/4 sticks (146 g) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup (86 g) confectioner's sugar, sifted

1/4 cup (35 g) almond meal

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, room temperature

1 3/4 cups (232 g) all purpose flour


1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, skinned

1/3 cup (66 g) sugar

5 tablespoons (68 g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk (save egg white for egg wash)

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

3 tablespoons (20 g) flour


2-3 three ripe white peaches

1/2 pint raspberries

apricot jam for glaze

For the tart shell: Place the butter in a food processor and process until soft and creamy.

Add the confectioners' sugar and process until well blended and smooth.

Add in the almond meal, salt, and vanilla extract and process until well blended.

Add in the egg and egg yolk and process until just blended; scrape the bowl down as necessary.

Add the flour and pulse just until the dough starts to come together into a ball; don't overprocess. The dough will be very soft like cookie dough.

Scrape the dough out of the food processor and make into a ball. Flatten out into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours until it is firm enough to handle.

When you are ready to bake off the tart shells, take the dough out of the refrigerator - let it warm up a bit if necessary but not too much because it will start melting fast.

Roll out the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap to 1/8" thickness. If the dough gets too soft, place back in the refrigerator to firm up.

Place the tart rings you will use on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Cut out circles of dough to fit into desired tart rings. Press the dough carefully into the tart rings and up the sides, being careful not to stretch the dough or it will shrink when baked. Place the rings into the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes. Trim off the excess dough from the top of the rings.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F while chilling the tart shells. When you are ready, line the shells with parchment and fill with beans or rice to keep the shells weighed down.

Bake shells for about 20 minutes until they are lightly colored and the shell feels dry to the touch. Remove from the oven and place on a rack. Remove the beans and parchment and brush the bottoms of the shells with a light egg wash (made from an egg white and a bit of water). Let finish cooling.

For the frangipane: Place the pistachios in a food processor along with the sugar. Process until finely ground and combined.

Add the butter and process until smooth.

Add the egg and egg yolk and process until combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the almond extract and combine.

Add in the flour and pulse just until combined - do not overprocess.

You can use the frangipane at this point or refrigerate it for up to two days. Let it come to room temperature before using.

When you are ready to bake the tarts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the frangipane evenly into the shells - do not overfill because it will puff up in the oven.

Wash the peaches, slice in half and discard the stones. Slice each half into thin slices and arrange evenly over the frangipane on each tart.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes for small tarts, 50-60 minutes for a large tart, until the frangipane is puffed and golden and the center of the tart is firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When you are ready to serve, place raspberries over the tart. Warm a bit of apricot jam in a saucepan over the stove to make a glaze, and brush gently over the entire top of the tart. Let cool before serving.

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the blanc-manger looks so fluffy! I've yet to try one like this!

Nice to have you back and that too with lovely looking sweets! Gotta love you. The Frangipane looks divine and I love pistachios!!

beautiful desserts, anita! i have yet to make pistachio frangipane, but i love experimenting with other nuts in frangipane...pecans being my favorite thus far. hmmm i wonder how peanut frangipane would taste? i love the tart and will definitely have to try it! how do you like that sucre dough recipe? looks similar to my favorite, but of course, i'm always looking to improve.

I'm with ya on the tarts. They are my passion right now. I just ate a whole slew of them this weekend.

Both desserts sound delicious and you have made them look so beautiful :)

I am glad your computer is working again! Your desserts are beautiful, as always! Summertime brings out the best in fruit desserts!

There is something about red and white that just looks so fresh and appetizing... your pretty desserts are really beautifully photographed, and I've no doubt, really a treat to eat as well. :-)

They are both lovely.

There's nothing like a tart to show off the fresh fruits of summer. I love the white peach and raspberry combo!


What a beautiful blog - I am so pleased to have found you. The pistachio frangipane looks and sounds wonderful - I can't wait to give it a try.

Thank you for the inspiration!

They are just the most beautiful little desserts ever. You really have an eye too for beautiful pictures.

Oooh, pretty!

Those tartlets look so cute! What sort of moulds do you use Anita? Are they mini springforms? With bottom or bottomless? I've not found moulds like that yet here on the high street...

Thank you! The texture was very nice and cloud-like!

Thank you! It's great to be back and I'm glad I have some virtual goodies to share!

Hi Monica,
Thanks! The peanut frangipane would be like a really yummy version of peanut butter, wouldn't it? Hmm...sounds worth a try:) I really like the pate sucree dough, once you get used to working with it, it bakes up so nicely and tastes lovely!

Tarts and summer - what could be better!

Thank you! They were fun to make -and eat!

Thank you! It's great to have all this fruit to bake with!

Thank you! I'm glad the red-and-white scheme worked out so well, and the blanc-manger was indeed yummy!

Thank you - great compliment from the queen of mouthwatering photos!!

Thank you! Don't peaches and raspberries go so well together!

Thank for the sweet compliments, and I hope are have fun in your own kitchen!

Thank you! I'm thrilled the desserts came out so well!

Thanks! I'm glad you like them!

Hi Inne,
Thanks for your compliments! I make the tartlets in bottomless tart rings - if you google "tart ring" you should be able to find some. Let me know how it works out!

Beautiful desserts. I'll take pate sucree or sable over regular one any day...I love that sandy feeling in my mouth. Any custard, cooked or not whether it be blanc maber, panna cotta, brule, flan is good. Period!
Glad to see you back!

Welcome Back! I love the tarts...and Frangipane! I have always made it with almond. Pistachio....yum! I love it.

Wow it's so beautiful!

A true pastry lover you are!:)

Thank you! I've found frangipane works well with many other nuts - it's so versatile!

Thank you! Glad you enjoy it!

hi i saw the blanc-manger and i absolutely love how it looks! =] im new to your page and i was wondering how it was made. i found another page that has the recipe but part of it was kind of confusing to me. if you can help me it will be greatly apreciated!

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