The Almond Tart
I have baked the almond tart several times this year using the King Arthur Flour’s (KAF) recipe
. It has proven to be a crowd-pleasing dessert that brings great pleasure to our dinner table. It’s a good starting point.
The KAF almond tart is the Avid Bakers’ Challenge (ABC) of the month. Visit ABC
to see postings from a community of like-minded bakers for their special offerings of the tart.
The biggest challenge for me is how to improve the nutritional profile of this delicious tart recipe in ways that my health-conscious family would eat it – instead of just staring at it. Even the most tempting desserts got a lot of stares in my kitchen. It took me quite a while before I stopped taking the stares, as well as the untried and uneaten desserts I made, too personally.
Pear Almond Tart
Since fruit is a perfect dessert for the healthful diet-style, I want to make it the star. Almond and pear is excellent pairing. I chose Forelle pears. Peeled, halved, cored and then poached them in a combi steam oven at 350°F and 50% humidity for 40-45 minutes. (There are many ways to poach pears on the stovetop other than in the steam oven. This just happens to be a convenient method for me.) No liquid was added since the intention was to concentrate the flavor of the pears. If you are not poaching the pears immediately, squeeze some lemon juice on them. What joy to see the ovalish outline of the smallish pear came through so beautifully on the tart!
The picture on the left shows the compressed and moistened interior of the yummy poached pear in the heart of the tart. Do you realize you are eating half a pear in one tart for dessert? It is well worth the time and effort poaching the pear to intensify its fruity taste and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.
I used the KAF recipe
for the almond filling (with almond flour being the key ingredient) and reduced the amount of sugar by 30%. About one to two tablespoons of the filing were enough to fill each mold in the 4-tart pan since the pear took up most of the space. The KAF recipe calls for more filling than is needed for my version of the almond tart – with more fruity goodness and less filling. The good news is: the leftover filings can be quickly used up making tarts with fruits that are in season and in the pantry.
Fig Almond Tart
Fresh fig, any varieties, is among my favorite fruits. They are sweet to eat alone or in a salad, and to bake atop tarts or financiers. For tarts, figs are delicate and require no poaching. I had a few black Mission figs on hand the other day, together with some leftover crust mixture and almond filling. Why not bake some fig almond tarts? I cut the figs lengthwise to show their amazing flesh. Then simply pop one piece on top of the filled tart shell right before they go into the oven – as easy as ABC. The fig caramelizes nicely and adds a distinct sweet deliciousness to the almond tart.
The Final Reveal: Gluten-free Crust
There are three major components of a fruit almond tart: the fruit, the almond filling and the crust to hold everything together. The crust was where I departed from the KAF recipe.The gluten-free crust was what I came up with in meeting the health and wellness requirements of my family. This crust packs a super nutritional punch with only three ingredients plus water: almond flour, dates as sweetener and chia seeds as egg substitute.
I made a few measurement mistakes with the ingredients. But the crusts did not seem to care what I did and how I messed up. They all turned out well – just differently in texture. The crust recipe is very forgiving and I love it for that. Mixing together all the ingredients produces a dark and coarse dough. It is not sticky; it is quite easy to handle with your fingers. Although this was my first attempt working with the crust recipe, the anxiety-ridden process in making a decent crust turned out to be – fun and rewarding.
This tart crust presents a mild nutty flavor and a chewier texture than the KAF crust. It’s hard to imagine how a crust using all healthy ingredients, without any butter or sugar, could taste so wonderful. If you’ve never tasted a wholesome vegan crust before, you’d be impressed by the robust, nutty and firm counterpoint of this crust to the tender and smooth sweetness of the almond filing. It’s a winsome combination. Biting into the crust is like eating a thin and crunchy power bar, only better, and without the graininess. One other bonus: the leftover crust mixture can be stored for a long time in the refrigerator. This may become a regular item in my pantry.
Tart crust ingredients:
1 cup almond flour/meal
2 tablespoon ground chia seeds
1 cup pitted dates
2 tablespoons water
Combine almond flour/meal and chia seeds in a food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add dates and water until the mixture comes together. Press the mixture into a lightly greased tart pan. Parbake the crust at 350°F for five minutes.
Note – This crust recipe is adapted from Eat to Live Cookbook and Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. Huge thanks to a dear physician friend of mine who kindly loaned me this book and introduced me the approach in eating my way to incredible health.
With some modifications to the original KAF recipe, I’ve found a way “to make a cake and eat it too.” The pear almond tart with gluten-free crust has earned the seal of approval among my family and friends. Stares averted!