"They think i gave up bread, cookies, pasta, beer, and all other gluten deliciousness because it's a trend!"
I'm going to tell you all a pretty shameful thought right now: I'm very happy that I don't have to live a gluten free life. So much of the joy I have gained from the kitchen has been laid on a foundation of all purpose flour.
I acknowledge that I'm a writer of very poor taste by saying how lucky I am that I'm not plagued by an actual disease out of humanity's control. I mean people don't just wake up and choose to be affected by an illness. So it's slightly (read: pretty fucking) infuriating to hear people willingly go on a gluten free diet just for fun. Because it's not like doing so belittles the individuals, who let's say, genuinely have to avoid bread for reasons other than to get a thigh gap. On behalf of actual gluten intolerant people, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I feel insulted for them.
Of all the food trends that I've witnessed in my short life, I don't think I've ever met one as asinine as perfectly healthy people turning their nose up against wheat products. Trust me, this is the guy who sat through the blogosphere's obsession with pink cake pops, slow cookers, and salted caramel.
So why did you just sit through a tirade against gluten free dieters only to see a recipe for a gluten free tart? Well it's because I know people who physically cannot have gluten. I've experienced first hand how they have to make the conscious decision to either wistfully look at me stuff my face with a croissant, or decide to partake in the fun knowing that their digestive system will wreak havoc later. So to the gluten free people who are actually gluten intolerant and not an infuriating bandwagoner, this pie is for you. A dessert that both you and me will both enjoy equally, and requires no magical ingredients or drawn out processes.
GLUTEN FREE BERRY & almond TART
Now I'll be the first to admit that this tart crust won't yield the proper flaky, buttery experience of a dough made with flour and butter, but what's important is that this dough is exceptionally easy to put together. No hunting down three types of gluten free flours, and all it needs is a quick run in the food processor.
gluten free almond flour crust
ENOUGH FOR A 9-INCH SINGLE LAYER PIE/TART
adapted from Elana's Pantry
2 cups of blanched almond flour (aka ground up almonds)
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract.
2 tablespoons of softened butter
1 large egg
Place the almond flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse them together to combine. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse until the mixture comes together into a ball. If for some reason you're having difficulty, feel free to break out another egg, whisk it together, and add as much more as you need until the dough comes together. Because there is no flour or solidified fat, feel free, to process as much as you like.
Now, you can either press the dough into your tart shell, but if you want to anal retentive like me, chill the ball of dough for a half hour, and carefully roll it out and lay it into your pan. That way you have a relatively smooth surface versus one composed of thumb prints and crags. Line the shell with foil, and weigh it down with beans. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, remove the foil and beans, and bake for another 5-10 minutes until the crust is golden and crisp.
almond pastry cream
2.5 cups of whole milk
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 tablespoon of cognac
1/2 cup of heavy cream
In a medium saucepan, heat the whole milk on medium until it hits a gentle simmer. Meanwhile, vigorously whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until pale yellow and very thick. Temper the egg mixture by pouring half of the hot milk into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Add the now warmed up egg mixture back into the rest of the hot milk in the saucepan, and return to the flame.
Stir constantly over medium heat until the custard thickens, about 5-10 minutes. Once thick, remove from the heat, and whisk in the butter, one cube at a time. It is important that you not add the next cube until the preceding one is completely incorporated. Add in the two extracts and cognac. Strain the custard into a bowl, press plastic wrap directly on the surface, and cool to room temperature before stashing it in the refrigerator for at least a few hours until cold.
Meanwhile, whip the 1/2 cup of heavy cream until it has stiff peaks. Fold the cream into the custard to lighten, and return to the refrigerator until ready to use.
almond pastry cream
powdered sugar, for dusting
Fill the cooled almond tart shell with the pastry cream. Casually arrange any mix of berries you like on top. To make a glaze, heat up some apricot jam with a splosh of water until it thins out enough for you to brush onto the fruit. I do like to only paint some of the berries with the glaze, so that a dusting of powdered sugar can still fall on spots of the tart without getting absorbed. Stash in the refrigerator until ready.