While cooking, listen to this: Alice in Wonderland - Bill Evans Trio
I am obsessed with Alice in Wonderland.
I'm not exaggerating - I am a woman possessed. I've read both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass multiple times over; I read The Annotated Alice cover to cover, including every last annotation - I really am that nerdy; and one of my favorite art books is a giant pop-up book of Alice from the MoMA. I don't know exactly what it is about the story that causes me to lose myself, but I keep coming back to it.
I do have some ideas, though. Aside from the fact that Alice has the cutest kitten ever (whattup, Dinah), the story has so much food imagery. And damn good food imagery, too. Cakes that make you grow bigger and smaller, an insane tea party including a table laden with tea trays (and one very sleepy/possibly high doormouse), and giant fluffy mushrooms? Like, come on, how ideal does that sound.
One of the many sticky situations Alice finds herself in is when she is called as a witness in the theft of the Queen's tarts. The King and Queen are royally pissed, and I don't blame them because tarts are delicious. The tarts in the story are made with mostly pepper though, according to the cook, so I'm confused as to why anyone would steal them in the first place. This tart though, filled with lots of almonds and cherries and not a pinch of pepper, should be hidden under lock and key. Someone - maybe even a tiny-chimney sweep lizard named Bill - will definitely try to steal them.
I had literally never made a tart before this one. As such, I have learned a lot, like you may think you have docked your tart crust sufficiently before blind baking it and you have not. Dock it some more. That tart is a sneaky brat who'll try to get all puffed up like it owns the place. I provide as much details as possible in the recipe section to help you make this tart the best it can be. If you have tart baking tips, please share them down in the comments below!
This tart probably won't make you grow taller or shorter, but it will certainly make you happier. Whip this up, grab a slice, lock the door and enjoy.
Love and meows, Rina
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (45 grams) granulated sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (86 grams) chilled unsalted butter, in small pieces
1 egg yolk beaten with 2 teaspoons water
1 stick plus two tablespoons (140g) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup (160g) sugar
Heaping ¾ cup (200g) ground almonds (might also say "almond flour" or something similar)
2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Prepare the tart dough: mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl until combined. Sprinkle the butter pieces on top and work it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter, fork or other utensil (avoid your hands - they'll warm the butter too much). Add egg yolk and knead briefly until you have a smooth dough, then form it into a flat disk.
Roll the dough: on a lightly floured surface, with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a large circle (it doesn't have to be perfect - ours certainly was not!) and lay it on top of a 10-inch (23-centimeter) fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (SO KEY FOR TARTS). Press the dough into the pan, sealing any cracks with your fingers. Dock all over with a fork, and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Blind bake the tart shell: bake until it's lightly golden brown, around 10-13 minutes. Know your oven! Your tart shell might need less or more time, so keep your eye on that beauty. When you take it out, lower the temperature to 375 degrees.
Prepare the frangipane filling: in a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until just combined - we aren't going for pale and creamy buttercream here. Once it's combined, add the ground almonds and eggs and again, mix until just combined. I like to mix the almonds and eggs in with a spatula so that it doesn't get too mixed up, but you can definitely use your mixer - mix until just about combined, and then give it a few turns with a spatula to make sure the stuff on the bottom gets mixed in.
Prepare the tart: pour the frangipane into the tart shell and smooth over with a spatula or palette knife. Lightly press cherry halves into the frangipane in concentric circles (like we did) or any shape you like. Get creative!
Bake the tart: in the 375 degree oven, bake the tart for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden and a fork or toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
To serve: If you're using it, now is the time to dust the tart with some powdered sugar. To get your gorgeous tart out of its cage, place the tart pan on top of a can or large jar, and slowly slide the pan rim down. Transfer to your favorite serving plate (if this is your face, be our guest), and cut into slices.
To keep: this tart keeps really well, and is really fun to eat with your hands once it's set in the fridge for a day or two.