When used as a filling for tarts, frangipane puffs up a little during baking and turns golden brown. This is also the happy discovery inside an almond croissant, for which I would walk over crushed glass if it meant I could have one right now. Here’s a recipe to fill a 9-inch tart. For the record, it’s pronounced “FRAN juh pain.” When you’re talking about the flowering shrub, you get to say “fran juh PAN ee.”


1 c. sliced almonds (blanched or not)

1/2 c. sugar

generous 3 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature

pinch of salt

1/2 t. Brandy

1/8 t. almond extract

1 large egg

– Blend 1/8 c. sugar and the almonds in the food processor until the almonds are finely ground.

– Using a stand mixer with the paddle, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining sugar and beat. Add the almond mixture and beat. Add salt, Brandy, extract and beat. Add the egg and beat until fluffy.

– Stores for a week in the fridge, or freeze (you’ll need to re-beat it before using).

The crust for sweet tarts: pâte sablée

This isn’t the all-American flaky pie crust. Strictly translated, pâte sablée means “sandy paste.” When baked, pâte sablée gives you a crumbly, sandy, shortbread-cookie-like crust that works beautifully for tarts. Sweet and rich, it is the perfect foil to a dark chocolate ganache filling or a simple mix of berries.

Pâte Sablée

scant 5 oz. unsalted butter, cold

1/2 c. sugar

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

1 egg yolk, beaten, at room temperature (separating the egg when it’s cold is easier)

– Cut the butter into small chunks and put it in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.

– In the food processor, combine sugar, flour, salt. Remove the lid and add the butter chunks. Pulse until the dough looks like streusel: big bits, little bits, not uniform. Pulse in the egg yolk. Just a few more pulses until the dough starts clumping together…and stop! Overworking will yield a tough crust. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, gently gather in any stray floury bits, and wrap up, pressing the dough into a disc shape.

– Chill for up to 5 days. Well-wrapped, you can also store the dough in the freezer.

– When ready to bake, press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Be gentle. The trick is to shape the dough to the pan while maintaining the delicious crumbliness. Pop the pan and crust in the freezer for a good 20 minutes (or more) before baking.

Apple tart


This is one of my favorite desserts to bring. You know, like to someone’s house. As in, “what can I bring?”

I’ve been making this tart since it was featured on the cover of Bon Appetit in 1997. Whether for Thanksgiving, birthdays for non-cake eaters, fancy dinner parties, individual tartlets for a picnic…it always looks and tastes delicious. Over the years I’ve tweaked the recipe from the original and now just use my standard pâte sablée for the crust and a basic frangipane for the filling.

Make a double batch of both the crust and the filling and store (separately) in the freezer. You’ll have a quick, elegant dessert to throw together at the last minute. The frangipane works well with pears, apricots, or plums, too. And don’t skip the part where you brush on the apricot jam: this is the fun part of fussy. You’ll end up with a gorgeous dessert. Go ahead, put it on a pedestal.

French Apple Tart

1 recipe for Pâte Sablée, chilled

1 recipe for Frangipane, at room temperature

2-3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced

1 T. sugar

1 T. Calvados or appropriately-flavored liqueur such as Grand Marnier, Drambuie, Amaretto, or Licor 43

1/4 cup apricot jam

– Toss the apple slices with the sugar and booze, allow to sit for about 30 minutes.

РPreheat oven to 325F. Press p̢te sabl̩e dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Be sure to create a thick edge all the way around the sides. Chill the crust in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking.

– Spread the frangipane into the chilled crust. Drain the apples and arrange in a concentric circle, overlapping slightly. Bake for around 50 minutes, until the apples are tender, the crust is slightly browned, and the frangipane has puffed and turned slightly golden. If the apples start to brown during baking, cover loosely with foil.

– Remove tart to a cooling rack. Warm up the apricot jam in a little saucepan or the microwave. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl. Gently brush the apples and crust with the apricot syrup.

– Serve when cooled. It’s best on the day you’ve made it, but the tart will keep for a day: cover and refrigerate, but be sure to serve at room temperature. If you feel like gilding the lily, serve with a little vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream….just cut the slices a little smaller.