Out of the blue one day my husband emailed me a link to the apparently famous Chez Panisse Almond Tart. Since he rarely requests specific desserts I felt compelled to make it– also, we had a bunch of extra heavy cream left over from an earlier baking binge, so any recipe involving cream was welcome! I picked up some sliced almonds, and the rest of the ingredients were already in my pantry– always a plus.
The tart itself didn’t look too hard to make– fussy, sure, with repeated check-ins during the baking time to (weirdly) tap the surface of the tart with a spatula, but not difficult. Surprisingly for me, the crust baked up nicely with minimal shrinkage (I always have issues with that), and while I had my doubts about the filling consistency being too thin when I first poured it into the tart shell, it firmed up nicely in the oven.
Besides which, the recipe was worth it for one technique alone– using the curved tip of a vegetable peeler to slide between the fluted edges of a tart pan to release a stubborn crust. I never would have thought of it (it’s the perfect size!), and it’s going to be SO useful in the future!
That being said, while the fluted sides released fine, the same was not true of the bottom. It stuck. Boy, did it stick. I’d say that about 40% of the bottom surface area flatly refused to come loose from the pan, despite some serious scraping. Luckily the tart has some serious structural integrity from the caramel, so it looked fine from the top and held together all right, but next time I would line the bottom of the pan with a 9″ parchment round just to aid in releasing.
As for the taste? Pretty good. Sweet, of course, with a nice caramel-y undertone, but not as much almond flavor as I’d expected. Definitely more like candy or bar cookie than like a dessert. I might consider making it again, but it won’t go on my list of go-to desserts. I might increase the crust amount by 25% next time, since the flavor of the crust was great and I wouldn’t mind having a thicker layer on the bottom (might also aid to prevent leakage and sticking).
I normally post the recipe and a description of the process, but David Lebowitz did such a good job on his own blog post that I’m just going to link to his. Mine basically looked exactly the same during the mixing and baking process, though I will note that my filling was extremely pale, bubbly, and foamy for the first 15 minutes of the oven time, which I did not expect. Don’t worry if yours doesn’t start to turn caramel-colored until the last few minutes!