A flaky, buttery tart crust acts as the edible plate for juicy, ripe fruit or a silky, luscious pastry cream. This tart dough is truly fantastic. It has almond flour to add another layer of yum. When baked to GBD (golden brown and delicious) and fresh out of the oven, it fills the kitchen with an aroma that is sure to entice everyone’s sweet tooth.
- Yield: 3 10-IN (25-CM) TART SHELLS OR EIGHTEEN 3-IN (8-CM) TART SHELLS
- 1 vanilla bean or 12 g (1 tbsp) vanilla bean paste
- 300 g (1¼ cups) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 5 g (¾ tsp) kosher salt
- 175 g (1½ cups) powdered sugar
- 60 g (1⁄3 cup) granulated sugar
- 60 g (¾ cup) almond flour
- 550 g (4 cups) all-purpose flour
- Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a paring knife and then use the knife to scrape the seeds from the pod. Discard the pod or reserve for use in another recipe.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, salt, both sugars, almond flour, seeds scraped from the vanilla bean or the vanilla bean paste, and 175 g/11⁄3 cups of the all-purpose flour. Use a wooden spoon to blend into a thin, creamlike batter; don’t overmix. Fold in the remaining 375 g/22⁄3 cups all-purpose flour until just combined. You should have something that looks and feels like cream-colored play-dough. Do not overwork. Turn the dough out of the bowl and onto a counter; use your hands to form a thick disk, about 6 in (15 cm) in diameter and 2 in (5 cm) thick. Cut into three even pieces, and then re-form into 2-in- (5-cm-) thick disks. Wrap the dough disks well in plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but no more than 24 hours.
- When the dough is ready to work, preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Coat tart pans with cooking spray or butter. Put a small amount of flour into the oiled tart pans and shake to coat; discard the excess flour.
- Working with one dough disk at a time, flour both sides of the disk and sandwich between two pieces of thick parchment paper. Gently beat the top of the dough with your rolling pin to soften. When the dough is softened, work from the center of the disk out so that you do not develop the gluten too much; this will result in flaky, tender tart shells. Roll the rolling pin over the top of the top piece of parchment paper to keep the dough from sticking and make it easier to roll out evenly. Roll until the dough is paper-thin. Don’t cut corners here; take your time, and roll it out very thin—1/8 in (4 mm). To check for even thickness, gently lift the dough and run your hands under it. There will likely be a bit of a bulge in the center. Flatten this at the very end by rolling over it.
- Cut the dough into a round a bit bigger than the tart pan. Place the dough in the prepared tart pan and use your thumb and forefinger to gently push the dough into the bottom and up the side of the pan, moving in a circular motion around the pan. The dough should stand up just over the edge of the pan once you have set it in. Using a sharp paring knife, with the tart pan as a guide, make a clean cut of the dough so that it is even with the top of the pan. Remove the excess tart dough and use it in another tart shell, or twist it, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and bake for a lovely chef’s snack. Place the tart shell in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. This will help keep the dough from falling during baking. Repeat for the remaining dough.
- Place the tart shells on a baking sheet and bake for 7½minutes, then turn them 180 degrees and bake for another 6 to 8 minutes, or until they are golden brown and look flaky. If the bottoms of the shells have bubbled up during baking, immediately push the bubbles down with the back of a spoon during the first rotation.
- Remove the tart shells from their pans and place on cooling racks for at least 30 minutes. Once the shells are cool to the touch, they are ready to be filled with in-season fruit or a creamy filling. For a special occasion, try the Cheeky Raspberry Tart on page 196. The baked unfilled tart shells can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.