Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Nutless Frangipane Tarte
by McGonagirl, Dumbledwarf, Hermi2

Hermione had been spending part of her summer working at the pastry shop of superstar chef, Joaquim Bullshot. She'd discovered that his shop sold delectable treats to both wizards and muggles, and she had been giving some thought to her future and wanted to know how he did it. When Molly Weasley invited Hermione to come visit on her days off, she brought a tarte she'd helped make at the shop called a pear frangipane -- frangipane is a mixture of pastry cream (a from-scratch vanilla pudding) and almond cream. But alas, Ginny Weasley couldn't taste it -- she was allergic to all sorts of nuts, including peanuts, even though they are technically a bean.

Poor Ginny had to watch while the rest of her family devoured the delicious confection, and Hermione felt very bad for her. Surely, there must be a replacement for almonds, or even a spell to cancel out the effects on Ginny's system? But no, Chef Bullshot only dealt with classical French preparations, and he knew of no substitution. As for a spell, the chef was a squib -- a child born of wizard parents with no wizard abilities. No help there ...

Molly Weasley knew that Hermione had thought she committed a faux pas against Ginny, and suggested the girl talk to the Two Fat Saxon Witches. Hermione had heard of them -- they were famous in the wizarding world, though no one knew exactly why -- and she knew that many witches and wizards were in awe of the two large ladies. Even Mrs. Weasley agreed they were formidable and it would not do for anyone to cross them. But she did come to know them through attending classes -- with complimentary chits via Mr. Weasley's job at the Ministry of Magic -- and sent an owl asking if they could help Hermione in her quest to find a nut substitute?

Errol, the Weasley owl, was old and not 100% reliable, so it took a while for a reply to come; when it did, the Witches said they'd see Hermione, but only at that very hour! With no time to plan, Hermione traveled by floo to the designated fireplace, and stood between the two fat witches and tried to understand what they were saying and showing her -- not always easy when her thoughts were scrambled for lack of time for preparation, and because the two witches would often talk in heavy accents over one another, often arguing between themselves over one point or another. Sometimes the blonde one would gesture wildly when the brunette one refused to listen to her! It was very dizzying for Hermione.

But when they finally sent her back to the Weasleys, Hermione had some very good ideas as to how to solve the problem, and she came up with two solutions. The resulting tartes were rather different: the soynut tarte was more like a sweet, smooth custard; the cornmeal-based frangipane produced a firmer tarte with a light, distinct corny flavor. There was a bit of each cream leftover, so Hermione blended them into a third tarte -- and this was was a good compromise between the properties of the two. It was closest to the original almond cream-based frangipane.

Ginny ate them all with gusto, glad to not be left out after all. She declared they were simply the most delicious things she'd ever had, even better than anything her mum had made! Hermione blushed and apologized to Mrs. Weasley, who couldn't talk because she was too busy sampling, too!

    Pastry Cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • cup sugar
  • vanilla bean OR 1 teaspoon vanilla or other flavor extract
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • another cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
Heat the milk and sugar together with a split and scraped vanilla bean; if using a flavoring extract, you'll add it later instead. In a bowl, sift the cornstarch and sugar together. Add the egg yolks and whisk until the mixture is a smooth, pale, thick liquid. When the milk is near-boiling, add a cup of hot milk to the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the while. This is called tempering and allows the temperature of the egg yolks to be closer to the temperature of the milk, so that the yolks don't curdle. It's important to keep the mixture whisked and moving through the tempering process, or the eggs getting the most heat will scramble. Add the hot milk in cup increments, whisking each addition in thoroughly and quickly. If you are using a flavoring extract it, add it now.

Return the mixture into the pot you'd boiled the milk and cook over low heat, whisking continuously. When the mixture comes to a slow boil it should thicken. Whisk harder and cook for another minute, reducing the heat if you need to, to prevent burning or curdling. Strain the hot pastry cream through a fine sieve to remove the vanilla bean chunks as well as any chunks of scrambled egg (there should not be much). Use a spatula to help push the thickened mixture through.

Chill this mixture with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface, like for pudding. Allowing air between the wrap and the surface of the pastry cream will cause a skin to form, or condensation will drip down onto the surface. Cool on the counter to room temperature, then refrigerate till needed.



    Soynut Cream
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick, 4 oz, 125 g), softened to room temperature
  • cup sugar
  • cup soy flour (soynuts ground fine, a little grainy is fine)
  • 2 eggs
Cream the butter and sugar together till the color is light and the texture is quite fluffy. Using a wooden spoon, work in the soy flour till the mixture is well blended, but do not overwork the mixture from this point. Add the eggs one at a time with a wooden spoon, beating just till completely combined. Yields about 1 cups of soynut cream. Wrap very well, placing the wrap directly on the surface of the cream, and refrigerate till needed.

OR / AND

    Cornmeal Cream
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick, 4 oz, 125 g), softened to room temperature
  • cup sugar
  • cup white cornmeal (dried corn ground fine, but not too fine)
  • 2 eggs
Cream the butter and sugar together till the color is light and the texture is quite fluffy. Using a wooden spoon, work in the cornmeal till the mixture is well blended, but do not overwork the mixture from this point. Add the eggs one at a time with a wooden spoon, beating just till completely combined. Yields about 1 cups of cornmeal cream. Wrap very well, placing the wrap directly on the surface of the cream, and refrigerate till needed.

    Nutless Frangipane
  • Pastry Cream, very cold
  • Cornmeal OR Soynut Cream, very cold (can use a mixture, if you prefer)
You can mix the pastry cream and cornmeal or soynut cream together in proportions of equal parts of both, or up to 4 parts cornmeal or soynut cream (or both) to 1 part pastry cream. Use a wooden spoon and a chilled bowl to do this -- do not use a mixer or the frangipane might "split" and not keep together. Keep covered and refrigerated till needed, and use within a few days. It must be kept chilled well, since there is butter and raw eggs in the almond cream.



    Tarte Shell
  • 1 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, very cold, cut into pieces
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
Mix together the flour and sugar in a bowl, and cut or rub the butter through it till the mixture is granular and coarse. Stir in the ice water till it forms a ball, then turn it out onto a counter and knead it briefly and gently. Try not to use too much extra flour, and keep the dough cool. Wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Roll the cold dough out into a circle larger than your shallow-lipped tarte pan, then place the dough in it, carefully tamping the edges down against the pieplate. You can use any shapes, but if they are large, make sure you have enough frangipane for all the tartes. If you don't, you can wrap and freeze the unbaked shells.



    Assembly
  • Nutless Frangipane
  • 2 tarte shells, uncooked, chilled
  • 15 oz/ 425 g canned pears halves in light syrup OR 11 oz/ 300 g canned mandarin oranges in light syrup (or a combination of both) -- drained very well (keep the juice for another use, covered and chilled)
Heat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Pour the frangipane into the cold tarte shells, between ¼ to ½ of the way up from the bottom. Spread out with a spatula. Do not add more cream to the tarte, or the tarte will not cook properly; the nutless frangipane will expand on baking, in any case. Slice the pears crosswise and fan them onto the surface of the frangipane -- do not press down, as the fruit will sink a bit anyway. You can use unsliced mandarin oranges here too, or a mixture of other poached or canned fruits. A symmetrical pattern is best. Bake for 30 minutes without opening the oven. After that, check every 10 minutes until the frangipane is puffy and a golden brown, and the crust cooked through. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Chill till serving time. Makes 16 neat slices.


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