Almond Tart
One tart
Adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Shere.
For the dough
1 cup (140g) flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup (4oz, 115g) chilled unsalted butter, cut into little cubes
1 tablespoon ice water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
For the tart filling
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
1 cup (200g) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup (80g) sliced almonds (I prefer unblanched but either is fine)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier or Amaretto
For the dough
Mix the flour and sugar in a standing electric mixer or food processor (or by hand, using a pastry blender.)
Add the butter and mix or pulse until the butter is in very small pieces, the size of rice. It should be pretty well-integrated with no large visible chunks.
Add the water and extracts and mix until the dough is smooth and comes together.
Press into a flat disk, wrap in plastic and chill thoroughly.
To put the pastry in the pan, let the dough come to room temperature and press the dough into a tart shell using your hand.
It takes some practice but don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. Try to get the dough relatively flat on the bottom, and push it evenly up the sides with your thumbs. But once again, it doesn’t need to be perfect, but you do want to make sure the sides don’t collapse. If that happens, you can take it out midway during baking, and push the half-baked dough back up the sides.
Put the tart shell in the freezer and chill thoroughly.
To bake the shell, preheat the oven to 375F (190C).
Bake the shell for 20-30 minutes, until it is set and light golden-brown.
Remove from the oven and patch any holes with leftover dough.
For the tart filling
To bake the tart, line the rack under the one you plan to use with a sheet of aluminum foil to catch any spills and drips.
Heat the cream, sugar, and salt in a big, wide heavy-duty pot (use one that’s at least 4 qts, 4l) until it begins to boil.
Continue to cook and when it starts to foam up, remove it from the heat and stir in the almonds, the almond extract, and the liquor.
Scrape the filling into the shell. If there’s a bit too much filling, don’t toss it; in case the tart leaks, you can use it to add more.
Make sure there are no clumps or piles of almonds and that everything is evenly distributed, then put the filled tart shell into the oven.
After the first ten minutes, check the tart.
Take a heatproof rubber spatula, holding it diagonally and with a tapping motion, break up the surface of the tart. Doing this is very important since it avoids the top of the tart getting that ‘corn flaky‘ look.
Be sure to give the filling a good series of ‘taps’—not enough to break the tart shell pastry underneath, but it’s important to break up the surface crust that’s forming.
Continue to cook, checking the tart every 5-8 minutes, and break up any dry crust that may be forming, getting less aggressive as the filling sets up. As it begins to caramelize, stop tapping it and let the tart do its thing.
Remove the tart from the oven when the filling is the color of coffee with a light touch of cream in it and there are no large pockets of gooey white filling, about 30 minutes. Let the tart cool a few minutes on a cooling rack.
Check and see if the tart has fastened itself to the tart ring. Slide a knife (or a curved vegetable peeler, which will slide nicely in between the ridges) between the tart and the pan to loosen it so the sides don’t come off when you remove the ring.
To remove the ring, rest the tart on top of a solid object (like a tall jar) and gently coax the ring off. Slip a large spatula underneath it to return the tart to a cooling rack.
Once completely cool, run a long chef’s knife under the tart to release it from the bottom. If it’s stubborn, set the tart on top of a warm stove burner for a second or two and you should be able to pry it off.

Voilà! Be proud of your first, infamous Chez Panisse Almond Tart.

Serve in small wedges either as a dessert, or as a cookie-like accompaniment to fresh fruit, bowl of ice cream or sorbet, or a compote.