So, I was telling my friend Samuel the other day that I made fish head curry three times in a row prior to posting the recipe for it last week. I explained that I couldn't get it to taste the way I wanted it to, and I couldn't possibly share a recipe for something I'm not happy with. I got it right on the third attempt though, after I figured out who the culprit was - it was the fish curry powder with the Candlenut! So I changed that, made my own curry paste and it turned out almost exactly like I wanted it to.
Some dishes are a little tricky to master especially when doing a copycat dish, and you just can't place your finger on the secret ingredient. I remember cooking Korean Fried Chicken at least five times before I was happy with the results. That included experimenting with various recipes for the dipping sauce until I finally achieved the right balance. There are also those dishes that are in WIP, for example, attempting to make laksa from scratch. I just couldn't get it right even after adding MSG (doesn't MSG usually solve everything?), and so I've put that on the backburner. In the meantime, I'm getting my laksa fix at Alice's Makan (which I went to today!), or some other decent laksa joint in Sydney. Uh-oh, have I digressed? Read on.
I made this heavenly (oh yeah!) apple frangipane tart last weekend, and for the record, this was my second attempt. The first time, I used Buttersnap cookies for the base, and I found it way too sweet, plus the added egg made the crust a little chewy and cakey. I was aiming for a light and crispy crust instead, and achieved that by using a basic shortcrust pastry with the addition of amaretti cookie crumbs. And it wasn't too sweet either as no sugar was used in the crust. There was already sweetness coming from the frangipane filling, complemented by the tartness of the apple slices. I was thrilled when I took the tart out of the oven, and it looked and smelt amazing, until....
My joy was short-lived. In my haste to remove the piping hot tart from the pan, Murphy's Law happened. The tart did a miraculous backflip onto the edge of the table, with half of it landing onto the chair. My heart just sank. Ouch. The photo above is what I managed to salvage from the table, which probably explains why it looks the way it does. It was a delicious tart nonetheless. Find the recipe after the jump.
This picture below is version 1.0 of the tart, where I used Buttersnap cookies for the base, hence the darker caramelized colour on the crust.
Here is the recipe for the best-ever apple frangipane tart. Best consumed within the next day. If refrigerated, reheat in the oven for a few minutes, and serve with whipped cream if desired.
Apple Frangipane Tart
1 1/4 cup plain flour
1.5 oz (40g) finely crushed Amaretti cookies
1/2 cup (125g) butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 tsp salt
3-4 tbsp iced water
3.5 oz (100g) unsalted butter, softened
3 oz (85g) icing sugar
1 cup (100g) almond meal
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and quartered
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp apricot jam + 2 tsp hot water, microwaved for 20 seconds
In a food processor, blitz the flour, Amaretti cookies and salt until well mixed. Add butter and pulse until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. With the motor running, slowly add the water until the dough starts to come together. Press the dough between your fingers and if it sticks together, it's ready. Don't add too much water or else the dough will be too soft.
Turn the dough over to a lightly floured surface and gently knead until it form a smooth ball. Press into a disc and place it in a 9 inch fluted loose-bottom tart pan. Use your fingers to line the base and sides of the pan. Refrigerate it for 1 hour until it's firm. Then prick it all over with a fork.
Preheat oven to 200C (400F). Bake the tart crust in the middle rack for 15 minutes until golden and crisp. Remove and let it cool.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 190C (375F). Next, prepare the frangipane. Place the butter in a mixing bowl and stir with a spatula to soften it. Stir in the icing sugar, followed by the almond meal and mix well. Finally, add the vanilla and eggs and stir until evenly mixed through. Spread it evenly onto the base of the tart crust.
Slice the apples very thinly and arrange them over the frangipane filling. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake in the middle rack for 45 minutes until the apples start to lightly brown at the edges. Remove from oven and brush with apricot jam. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.