I love almond flavor, and I have found the perfect tart to highlight that flavor. This recipe came from the book "Bringing Tuscany Home" by Fances Mayes and the recipe is by Nancy Silverton. I've made it using the plums it calls for, and also substituting apricots. It would also be good with pears. The filling is made with ingredients you would be likely to have on hand, and it turns out good every time.
Italian Plum Tart
1 recipe sweet pastry dough
2 pounds Italian Prune plums, pitted and quartered
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 teaspoons almond extract
6 tablespoons almond meal (blanched and finely ground almonds)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust rack to middle position.
Roll out the sweet pastry dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Butter a 10 x 1 inch flan ring and line it with the dough. (I use a 10" tart pan with removeable bottom.)
Whisk together the egg and sugar until combined. Beat in the flour until well mixed. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the butter and vanilla bean over high heat until brown and foamy. Continue heating until the bubbles subside and the butter is dark brown and smoking and gives off a nutty aroma. Whisking continuously, pour the hot butter in a steady stream into the egg mixture, combining well. Remove the vanilla bean. Stir int he almond extract and almond meal, mixing well.
Spread the brown butter mixture evenly over the bottom of the tart shell, using the back of a spoon. Starting at the outside edge of the shell, place the plums on their sides in concentric circles, completely covering the surface. Arrange a few pieces in the center to fill in the gaps.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the crust is light brown and the filling is almost set. The tart may seem a bit juicy when you take it out of the oven, but it will firm up as it cools.
Sweet Pastry Dough
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and frozen
1 extra-large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
In a food processor with steel blade, combine flour and sugar and pulse on low. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the dough barely comes together.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and cream. Add to the butter mixture and pulse a few times until the dough barely comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Dip the heel of your hand in flour and, working with small sections, smear the dough away from you to blend it. When the dough has been all smeared out, using a metal scraper or spatula, scrape and gather it together. Gently knead and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill at least 2 hours, until firm.