It amazes me to see how time turns to light speed once you pass the age of 30. I remember when I was sixteen I had calculated how old I would be by the year 2000. Eek…32, that is ancient, I had thought. I also couldn’t wait to turn 20, graduate from college, find work just so I wouldn’t have to do homework anymore…
Is it midlife crisis that brings on this retrospective mood concerning the should have, could have, would have of my life up to this point?
Let’s put it this way, it was January not too long ago and now it’s the middle of August. Where did time go, what have I done between then and now? It’ll be another year soon which means another year older.
Am I making sense here? Do you all feel the panic in my voice?
Let me put it another way. It was not too long ago when we were flushed with a bounty of summer fruits. Now it seems the season is almost over. I haven’t remade the frangipane tart that Helen and I baked up when she was here and now plums were not as sweet or fragrant as they used to be.
Luckily, HH was able to scrounge up some plums from Costco that were okay, not the best, but fruit decent enough to bridge the gap between the fading days of summer (you can’t really tell with the hot weather over here) to the warming glow of fall when apples and pears will come into season.
I am now accorded an opportunity to slow down and plan for what I want to do next in my life. The news today is met with conflicting emotions on my part, uncertainty for sure but when one door closes another shall open.
First I shall take my time and smell the roses so to speak, because I know it shall not be too long before there will be an apple pie in the oven.
Plum Frangipane Tarts
Frangipane Cream I (with pastry cream)
4 oz. confectioner’s Sugar
4 oz. unsalted butter
2.5 oz ground Almonds
1 large egg (room temperature)
1 large egg yolk (room temperature)
4 tsp. corn starch
6 oz. pastry cream
4 tsp. brandy
Sift the confectioner’s sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and beat together on low speed to combine. Increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth and creamy. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the almonds, whole egg, egg yolk, cornstarch, pastry cream, salt, and brandy (if using) and beat on low speed until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. The mixture may have a slightly “broken” appearance, which is normal.
The cream will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Frangipane Cream II
7 oz ground almonds
1 oz sugar
7 oz unsalted butter
4 tsp. brandy
2 large eggs
2 tbs. whole milk
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Add the sugar and mix to incorporate. Add the ground almonds and beat until thoroughly combined. Add the salt, brandy (if using), and 1 egg and mix until incorporated. Add the remaining egg and the milk and mix until light and fluffy. The cream will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
16 oz whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbs. cornstarch
4 oz sugar
2 large eggs
2 oz unsalted butter
Pour the milk in a heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the seeds from the pods into the milk. Add the salt, place over medium high heat and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally and making sure that the milk solids are not sticking to the bottom of the pan. The larger batch, the more careful you should be.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the sugar. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth.
When the milk is ready, ladle about 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the hot milk and continue whisking over medium heat until the custard is thick as lightly whipped cream, about 2 minutes. In order for the cornstarch to cook and thicken fully, the mixture should come just below boiling point. However if the cream is allowed to boil you will curdle the cream. Remove from heat and immediately pour trough the sieve into the bowl.
Let cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to release the heat and prevent a skin from forming. Cut the butter into 1 tbs. pieces. When pastry cream is ready whisk the butter into the pastry cream 1 tbs. at a time, always whisking until smooth before adding the next tbs.
To cool the cream, cover the bowl with plastic wrap pressing the wrap directly onto the top of the cream. Be careful whisking the cream when it is cold. Overmixing will break down the starch and thin the cream. Pastry cream will keep, well covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
I used 3-inch tart rings and decided to make 8 tarts. I filled the tart shells with pie weights and baked them for 12 minutes at 350F. I used 8 plums, using approximately half a plum for each. Hungry Hubby wanted the plum to stand out in the tart so I cut the slices thicker than would normally be pleasing to the eye. I got greedy and decided to overfill the tarts with frangipane cream against my better judgement ( I know I’ll be paying later as I try to get the tarts out of the rings.
I baked these tarts in a 375F oven for 20-22 minutes, until the top of the tarts were golden brown.
The frangipane cream made with pastry cream makes a creamier tart filling than the one made without pastry cream. The second version also makes a cakier tart. I prefer the first version, but the second one is quicker to throw together, so it’s really a matter of choice of whether you have the time or not. Obviously, I had the time to do both.
The tarts, stored in an airtight container at room temperature, are best eaten within two days.
Note: I had plenty of pastry cream and frangipane cream left.