If you like the idea of an inside-out fruit tart, in the long tradition of tart shells filled with fruits and almond cream, you’d appreciate this berry gratin. I don’t need too much convincing.
The gratin takes the place of the tart shell, functionally. One less time-consuming step we have to do, leaving us with just the simple task of assembling the fresh berries and top them with a pistachio cream. No crust, seasonal fruits and all the attention is on the very basic of making the essential almond cream, or frangipane.
My ultimate indulgence, hands down, are croissants. When in Paris, my day would be incomplete without having a croissant for breakfast. There aren’t too many things I so thoroughly enjoy than the rich, delightful and nutty frangipane inside the light and crusty layers of a croissant. Similar to the frangipane, pistachio cream is a sweetened mixture of butter, ground pistachios, flour and egg. The almond cream recipe, presented in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi, is a versatile one. It can be adapted to make any kind of nut cream, including pistachio and hazelnut.
This recipe reminds me of my go-to frangipane recipe that makes every dessert fanciful and French. Yum! Mix equal parts (in weight) of, primarily, butter, sugar, nut flour and egg, with teaspoonfuls of all-purpose flour for structure and a dash of vanilla extract for flavor. It is easy to remember and to recall.
After making the pistachio cream, the big decision was the choice of berries. I made three gratins with strawberries and blue berries and one with cherries. Off they went into a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, until the gratins were golden and the fruits were bubbly.
It’s hard to pick favorites. I like the firmer bites of cherries and the sweet and tangy flavor profile of the berries. The berry gratins were dripping with the juice over-running on the sides—messy but exuberant. The cherry gratin had a certain resemblance to the cherry clafoutis, but less creamy and silky.
No doubt, the berry gratin is an effortless adaptation to the classic fruit tart. The cherry gratin emulates the classic clafoutis. Nonetheless, classics have the advantage and the test of time on their sides. I don’t see them being replaced any time soon.
I have posted my comments on Tuesdays with Dorie.
My Go-to and Easy-to-remember FrangipanePrint Recipe
- 2/3 to 3/4 cup whole sliced blanched almonds or 100g almond flour
- 1/2 cup or 113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup or 100g granulated sugar
- two or 100g large eggs
- 4 tsp or 12g all-purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp vanilla extract (or rum)
- 1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)
- freshly grated lemon or orange zest (optional)
- kosher salt
If using whole or sliced almonds, grind them in a food processor as finely as possible without turning them into a paste.
Using a stand mixer or a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 to 2 minute, or until light.
Add ground almonds or almond flour and beat on medium speed for 1 minute, or until thoroughly incorporated.
Beat in the eggs on low speed until blended. Add all-purpose flour, vanilla and salt and beat just until combined.
Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.