How I Learned to Make a Raspberry Tart (Again)

It wasn't as simple as riding a bike. If anything, it was practice.

I wanted it to be just like I made them before; a buttery, flaky crust with a sumptuous frangipane filling, topped with a thin spread of raspberry jam and fresh raspberries.

"How about a hazelnut crust and frangipane filling, with lemon curd and fresh raspberries?" I suggested aloud. Well, I didn't say that exactly, it was more of a mention of those three flavors together in a sentence. Darling scrunched up his nose and exhaled a "that's too many flavors all together," sort of exclamation. He was right.

I acknowledged that indeed it would be too many flavors with hazelnut, lemon and raspberries, and conceded to pick two. Alright then, raspberry and hazelnut. The idea of lemon and hazelnut always wins me over. Yet I had two boxes of beautiful raspberries that I did not want to waste. So it was a raspberry tart with a frangipane filling and hazelnut crust. Doesn't that sound delicious?

That afternoon, Darling and I sat together on the patio with some Darjeeling tea and almond croissants. I brought home a bouquet of anemone flowers that were so beautiful with deep violet red colors, and a bunch of croissants. The flowers and the almond croissants came from the farmers market, where I stopped on my way back home after dropping off the kids. It was a moment to be savored, the quiet. I had designs to bake that afternoon.

And I had made up my mind that raspberry tarts are one of my most favorite things to make. But it had been many years since I had made one. With my new KitchenAid (A gift from my auntie and grandma over the holidays) I wanted to make something special. I had already made the pastry crust. It was hand formed in the tart pan, waiting for its filling. I was feeling rusty in the pastry making department, but excited to have a new mixer to play with, and so... I became a bit over zealous in the process. I quickly mixed together the butter and sugar, added the eggs, then the vanilla extract. It looked a little odd, as the butter was separating. That puzzled me. I spread the frangipane filling into the cool and empty tart shell without realizing I had forgotten an important ingredient. Flour. Of course. Flour.

I was scrambling around in the kitchen because within minutes of putting the tart into the oven to bake, I realized I forgot the flour in the frangipane filling. Goodness.

"It's not too late, it's not too late..." I was singing this chant in the kitchen, wondering what Julia Child would do, although I was feeling a bit more like Lucille Ball in the moment.

I rescued the tart as fast as I placed it inside. I took the clean mixer bowl out of the sink and with oven mitts I daintily poured the filling back into it. I added 1/4 cup of flour, mixed it, and spread it back into the tart shell to bake. Not to worry. It will be fine.

And I baked it. It looked just lovely.

Once it was cooled, I spread warmed raspberry jam thinly on top of the golden frangipane filling. I realized I didn't have Chambord to add to the jam. Ah, so many things to remember. Once the jam was spread, I decorated the tart with the raspberries.

And I ran out of raspberries. So I added blueberries in the center of the tart.

It was the first time that my Darling met my auntie. We had dinner with her that night, and she made roast turkey, red potatoes in butter and parsley, zucchini and tomatoes that tasted delicious, almost like a ratatouille, and warm bread and croissants. I brought a butternut squash soup I made the day before, the makings of a salad with fresh lettuces, candied pecans and cranberries, and... the raspberry hazelnut tart.

But it had been years since I made a raspberry tart. I was hoping it came out alright. We enjoyed our dinner, and I felt happy that my auntie was meeting my Darling man. He poured my wine, served my salad, and washed up the dishes afterward, thus earning the title "Darling" once again. And he really is.

Then I cut the first piece of the raspberry hazelnut tart. It looked good and certainly I thought it would be. Not too sweet, good consistency. The crust could have been flakier, but as I explained to my auntie, it was Julia Child's recipe for pâte sucrée which used heavy cream instead of ice water. I told her I added finely ground hazelnuts and lemon zest to the crust recipe. Well, my auntie suggested, you shouldn't mess with it. Leave the recipe alone. Don't add. She had done that herself when working at Spago, and ended up crystallizing the chocolate brownies.

The filling itself was fine, a little under done. I didn't want to overcook the tart so I set the timer. I had to get into the shower before we went to my auntie's place. I thought I would hear the timer go off, but I was obsessing on the tart in the oven. I worried all the while as the water was deliciously hot and I was washing hurriedly, fretting about the tart, not wanting to over bake the tart and ruin it entirely.

So next time I will stick to the traditional pâte sucrée recipe, and use a beurre noisette filling as I had learned before. Raspberry tarts are still one of my favorite things to make.