From My Blogroll
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Well. It's been a while, hasn't it. Much to my surprise, life after graduate school does not, in fact, automatically come with more free time. On the contrary, along with my shiny new job came a shiny new commute, and part of me feels a perverse longing for the "free" time I had a year ago. Finding the time and energy to cook dinner with any kind of regularity has been a challenge, let alone finding the motivation to photograph and write about what I manage to cook.
Recently, though, I've enjoyed some extra inspiration to make time for baking. Summer fruit hit its stride a few weeks ago, just in time for Amy I. to return to the Bay Area. Now, when a friend arrives back in town after six months abroad, when she and her spouse move into their new place, housewarming goodies must be baked. And baked they were. I could think of no more delightful way to celebrate their return than with an abundance of summer's best in one of my favorite fruit desserts: a frangipane tart.
You see, I am a sucker for many things nut-related, but perhaps most of all for frangipane. So simple, so easy, frangipane feels disproportionately (almost guiltily) rewarding for how little work goes into it. A food processor makes quick work of the filling, and whether you scatter the fruit haphazardly or arrange it artfully, the result rarely fails to take on a kind of elegance. In the end, for reasons I can't quite identify, frangipane tarts feel at once rustic and refined, the sort of dessert that feels equally at home eaten off of a napkin or china plates.
This is a choose-your-own-adventure sort of dessert, one that works with a variety of crusts and virtually any fruit you can imagine pairing with nuts. I think that stone fruits make the best frangipane tarts, but pear and apple also shine in this setting (pear frangipane tarts are a classic French dessert), and I will probably try a fig and frangipane tart before the summer's out. For this tart, however, the timing couldn't have been better for cherries.
Sweet and succulent, and just hitting their peak, cherries have had me on a veritable baking streak. They seem particularly fine this year, despite (or perhaps thanks to?) an unusually rainy and cool spring, and I am enjoying cherries like never before: packed in lunches, at picnics in the park with puppy, out of hand as I putter about the house, and of course baked in tarts like this one. I do hope you'll give it a try.