The sun is high in the sky and I've rediscovered the joy of sweating even when sitting still. Yes, summer is here, and it could not be more welcome.
But just a few short weeks ago, we were still decidedly stuck in spring. On one of those dark days, I was chatting on the phone with my mother on one of my dreary mid-week walks home from work, when she mentioned that my step-father was heading up to his daughter's cottage, alone, just for the night. Winter had been long and the maple-syrup season would be short this year. Rain was on its way to the Laurentides region of Québec, where the cottage is nestled on a lake, between the mountains, and he had to empty the stainless steel pots on each mature maple tree before the droplets started falling.
In honour of his solo, mid-week syrup-boiling adventure, I set out to make a tart with the flavour I so associate with spring thaws and school trips to the sugar shack. Here, the warm, woodsy sweetness of the maple syrup is paired with the traditional frangipane base of ground almonds. The filling is much less light and cake-y than traditional frangipane, as the reduced maple syrup creates a denser, more toffee-like texture. It's a simple tart, but also a sticky, gooey, delicious one. It cries out to be topped with softly whipped cream and devoured down to the last crumb.
maple frangipane tart
Note: this recipe is for a tart to be baked in a 14"x5" rectangular tart pan (I own this one)
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup ground almonds
3 tbsp heavy cream
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F
First, make the crust. Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and flour together to form a wet dough. Press it into the rectangular tart pan to form a thin crust. Bake until the crust is set, and the edges just begin to brown, 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the filling.
Add the maple syrup to a medium saucepan, and place over medium heat. Simmer until it has been reduced by half (you should have approximately 1/4 cup of dense, viscous syrup). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until completely incorporated. (No need to rush, but this should be done fairly quickly after removing the reduced syrup from the heat. Otherwise, you will be left with a delicious-smelling but useless pot covered in rock-hard maple candy). Stir in the ground almonds, egg, and heavy cream.
Pour the filling into the cooled tart shell, and bake until filling is no longer jiggly, and has begun to brown on the surface. Serve with cold, gently whipped cream.