You Should Be Adding Frangipane to Your Dessert Repertoire
The first time I made frangipane was in culinary school, and I remember thinking “Oh, this should go in Everything, It was so magical in flavor and texture that I immediately appreciated its potential, but expressing my amazement was the culinary school equivalent of a teenager saying “You know, this Celine Dion lady is really talented.” Frangipani has long been the star of many pastries and desserts, and they are incomparably versatile. Once you’re familiar with frangipane, you’ll be using it creatively in no time.
Frangipane is a fragrant, delicately sweet and savory concoction of almond flour, butter, sugar and eggs. From this base mixture, you can add extracts, salt, other seasonings and even baking powder to give it a light crumb. You may also hear it used interchangeably as “almond cream”. Frangipane batter is thick, but not dense, and should be cooked through. The eggs give the mixture a bit of lift and the butter provides a wonderful richness, but most of the flavor comes from almond meal or additional extracts. Although these ingredients sound like run-of-the-mill cake stuff, frangipane is an especially tender cake that has a distinctive almond flavor. The tender crumb is due to the naturally gluten-free nature of the batter. Sometimes you’ll see recipes that include a tablespoon or two of flour to firm up the mixture, but it will still retain its soft texture.
Although frangipane is cake-like, it doesn’t have the same structure as a layer cake, so you’ll rarely see it baked in thick layers. Frangipane shines most in small doses and as a surprising layer in larger desserts. Pithivier, or galette des rices, is a sumptuous dessert made of frangipane sandwiched between two layers of puff pastry. It’s simple to look at, but once you bite into it you see an enticing, hidden layer of almond cake. Almond croissants often hide that same sweet secret. Many bakeries split open plain croissants, stuff and fill them with frangipane, then close and toast them again. Others simply spread it on raw croissant dough so that the pastry is diffused with the almond mixture between the layers of butter and dough.
Because frangipane puffs up into a cake-like substance, you can use a light swipe to flavor and bind fluffy pastries as in the pithiviers and croissants described above, or you can spotlight it as a filling in tarts. Can The walls of the tart shell provide ample support to the batter; You’ll usually also see fresh fruit buried inside. Choose fruits you love to pair with almonds, such as pears, cherries, apples, apricots and ginger, or blueberries. For a classic British dessert, try a Bakewell Tart. Spread a thin layer of jam in baked tart shells before filling with frangipane. Frangipane has a high proportion of fat, so it has a tendency to melt if you add too much, or if it is baked unsupported by other elements such as a pan or tart shell. If you want to bake it alone or experiment, be sure to use a cake pan, loaf tin, cupcake pan, or mini cupcake pan to shape it and catch any spillage.
Making frangipane is straightforward, and doesn’t require any special equipment. Mix the softened butter with the sugar, almond flour, extract (if using), and finally add the eggs. Recipes that include all-purpose flour usually add it as the last ingredient to help with the emulsification of the eggs. I like to infuse almond flavor into everything I make, so this recipe adds a dash of almond extract.
1 unsalted butter stick, softened
½ cup sugar
1 ¼ cups almond flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp almond extract
2 eggs, room temperature
Mix all ingredients together, in order. Use immediately in desserts, or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Return to room temperature before use.
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