Day three of our TWELVE DAYS OF SHOW STOPPING DESSERTS over here. This Italian Almond tart is one of my favorites. And happens to be one of the first things I learned to make when I started baking like 30 years (and 30 years sounds sickening btw). It is simple and classic and honestly\, can be whipped up in a flash.
You're probably looking at this thinking, 'show stopping, really?'
Maybe it is not gloriously tall (like the peanut butter cheesecake) or fancy AF (like this chocolate mint cheesecake), but it holds a special place in my heart as one of my very first bakes, and it always paired so well the my family's Italian feast on Christmas Eve. So it is show stopping to me 🙂
What's in an Italian almond tart?
Super minimal ingredients for sure. And I am willing to bet that most (especially if you're a baker already) you have on hand.
First you are going to want to start out with a good pastry crust. I am talking BUTTER baby. I am the queen of short cuts when I need and want them, and I won't let you down here, there is a shortcut, and that that would be Trader Joe's pie crust. And if you don't believe me here read this and this) It's one of the only store pie crusts made with butter, and bakes up super flaky, and is the closest to homemade. If you are not near a Trader Joe's to buy this, I highly recommend making your own. The buttery crust is the greatest compliment to the almond filling ever, and your average Pillsbury store bought crust just doesn't cut it (it is made with oil and you can tell). Here is a great recipe for pastry crust that I use all the time, in case you don't have a favorite.
On to the filling, and the actual Italian almond tart.
- Almond paste. This is one ingredient you may not keep around unless you are a baker (here is the one I have and you use the entire thing in this recipe). I always have some in the cabinet (maybe in case I make this, I don't really know why else I keep it on hand). This is not the same as frangipane, which is more like an almond cream. This is basically marzipan. It is super thick and made with sugar and almonds ground together. It is super nutty and aromatic, as the grinding process releases the natural oil in the almonds. And if you are wondering where the hell to find this...it is in the baking aisle of every grocery store I have ever been in. You probably just never noticed it. It comes in a can or sometimes a carton and lasts forever (not literally but you know what I mean).
- Butter. Cause it is a cross between a cake and a custard.
- Flour. See above.
- Sugar. Just a little. There is already sugar in the almond paste.
- Salt. Just a pinch, because, well, salt.
- Jam. This is a the highly subjective and most adaptable part of this recipe. Traditionally and personally, sour cherry is the best in this tart. But, as my life mission with this blog is...USE WHAT YOU LIKE OR WHAT YOU HAVE. Apricot, raspberry, plum, blueberry, or strawberry are all equally delicious in this Italian Almond tart. And I know, because I have used them all at one time in my 30 years of making this.
- Almonds. The sliced ones, for the top. That's how we fancy this sh-t up!
Would it even be a Kate the Baker recipe without pro tips??
- Cut the almond paste into pieces before adding. If you dump the whole block in the mixer at one time, it will be messy. Sh-t will fly out all over the place.
- Try to use room temp everything. So when working with room temp butter in baking, you really want everything to be room temp so you don't make the butter cold and chunky or make it melty and runny. And by everything, I am really talking about the eggs. Eggs are usually kept in the fridge. If you forgot to take them out of fridge to come up to temp, no problem. Fill a bowl with decently warm water and put the whole eggs in there for about 10 minutes. This will take the chill out.
This Italian Almond tart has been a no-fail for me for all these years. It comes out perfect every time. I am willing to bet it will for you too 🙂
Italian Almond tart
- 1 recipe of your favorite pie crust or one already prepared store-bought crust
- 1 stick of unsalted butter room temp (if using salted butter, eliminate the pinch of salt)
- ½ pound almond paste see notes above in filling ingredients, cut into chunks
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 eggs at room temp
- ⅓ cup flour
- pinch of salt
- ¾ cup of your favorite jam or preserves traditional and my personal fave is sour cherry
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- Heat oven to 350
- Press the pastry dough into a 9-inch tart pan (the kind with a removable bottom). Take your jam and spread across thhe pie crust. YOu want a good thick layer, so if you want to use a little extra, I wouldn't say no. Put the dough in the fridge while you make the rest.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer (use the whisk attachment for this one), or a bowl for a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth. With the mixer on low, add the chunks of almond paste, one at a time, mixing each in before adding the next. Keep mixing on low and add the sugar. Then add the eggs one at a time. Add the pinch of salt. Turn the mixer on medium and beat well, to thoroughly combine. Turn back to low and stir in the flour just until combined.
- Spoon the almond mixture on top of the jam and spread evenly and smooth. Bake this for about 40 minutes. The top should be firm to the touch and evenly puffed (not a big puff, just a little).
- Cool on wire rack completely before serving.