Raise your hand if you’re in charge of dessert for Easter dinner! I’m posting this today because it makes regular appearances in my house at just about every holiday. And it’s a good thing too because desserts like this often get overlooked because people think dessert and go for something chocolaty or pie-ish or anything covered in frosting. If you ask me, something like this is extra perfect for a holiday meal because holiday meals tend to be big and lavish and a heavy dessert is just overkill. You’ll stuff in a piece (okay it’s a holiday, 2 pieces) and soon you’ll be laying on the floor with your top button undone. Er…is that just me who does that? Pretend I never said anything.
This is one of my most favorite desserts. It’s in my arsenal of looks-and-tastes-super-gourmet-yet-is-unbelievably-easy recipes. A few years ago I served this as part of a dessert spread at a wedding I catered and everyone was asking me about it. One woman asked if I would email her the recipe and when I obliged and word got out, the list started circulating its way around the reception. At the end of the night I got a whole sheet full of names of people wanting it! I guess it’s no longer a secret, and especially now that I’m sharing it with all of you- but now it can be OUR secret, okay?!
You’ll notice that although it’s called an “Almond Toffee Tart” there’s no actual toffee in the recipe. That’s because it’s a magical tart. You toss together a simple filling and while it’s in the oven the little tart faries come and turn that filling into a chewy, caramelized, toffee-like substance. Amazing!
Almond Toffee Tart
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2 C flour
3/4 C real butter, chilled
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 C sugar
1/4 t salt
2T fresh orange zest (zest from 1 large orange)
2 C sliced almonds
1/4 t pure almond extract (I do more than 1/4 t, but less than 1/2 t. I just let the 1/4 t overflow a bit!)
11″ or 12″ tart pan with removable bottom (like this, sometimes called a quiche pan)
To make Pastry:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray tart pan with cooking spray and set aside.
If you have a food processor, use it! (Directions by hand to follow). Place flour in a food processor. Cut butter into chunks and add to flour. Pulse until mixture resembles crumbs. Add in 2 egg yolks and pulse to combine. If you’re doing it by hand. Use a fork, 2 knives, a pastry blender or your fingers to incorporate the butter chunks into the flour. Mix in egg yolks and use your hands to combine the mixture.
The mixture won’t be doughy, it will look more crumbly, but you’ll see as you grab it with your hands it will be able to smash into a ball. Just toss it all in your pan.
Now while the pastry is baking, you can whip up the filling. Wait till you see how easy this is! In a pot on the stove top set to med-high heat, combining whipping cream, sugar, salt, and orange zest. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add the almonds and the extract.
mmm…I love orange zest.
Pour the mixture into the pastry crust. At this point you might be thinking you messed up because it’s all liquidy, but fear not, it’s supposed to look like that. See?
Use a spoon to spread out the almonds so they’re in a nice layer. Look, it’s pretty already. How gourmet are you?!
Cook at 375. Now I don’t know why, but it can take anywhere from 40-60 minutes to cook. In my old kitchen it took 35-45 and in my current kitchen it takes 45-55. One of those ovens is off- just not sure which one! So keep an eye on it and take it out after the top is all caramelized.
When it’s in the oven is when the magic happens and all of the sugar and cream starts to caramelize and turn into golden brown goodness.
When it’s done, remove from oven and let cool on a rack. When it is cool enough to handle, remove the rim of the pan to make sure nothing sticks to it. You can then store the tart in the pan with the rim on. Cool completely before serving.
*You can make this a day in advance as well, just cool completely and wrap in plastic wrap to store. I have to say that the flavor just gets BETTER the longer it sits, so make it early in the day if you want to serve it at night.
I wish you could all have a bite of this so you could understand the flavor and texture. The crust is buttery and flaky and melts in your mouth. The top of the tart is slightly chewy, yet soft in the middle and the flavor of the caramelized sugar and cream with hints of almond and orange is just out of this world.
We like to serve it with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream on top. If you’re an almond lover like me, put a little almond extract in there too!