August 15, 2013

Peach and Almond Crostatas (vegan and gluten-free)

Every so often and I will be watching a cooking show on television and be so inspired by a recipe that I will mark it down as something I will want to prepare in the future. Quite infrequently do I feel so fascinated by a recipe that I feel compelled to make a run to the grocery store and prepare it right away. Well that is how I felt when I saw Brian Boitano (yes, the Olympic gold medal winning ice skater) demonstrate his absolutely genius recipe for Pear and Almond Crostatas made with a crust of store bought almond paste. Being a lover of frangipane and all things almond in desserts, I could not resist the urge to make this seemingly too simple to be that good dessert. I did and it was better than I could have imagined.

 One of the great things about this particular dessert is it's versatility. He made it with pears, cream cheese filling, and all purpose flour, but I used peaches and coconut flour to make it gluten-free. When I made this recipe the second time, I modified my recipe for Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting in place of Boitano's cream cheese filling and made it vegan as well as gluten-free! An array of seasonal fruits would be delicious used for this dessert that would include apples, plums, figs, cherries, berries, and apricots. They are pretty easy to put together and if you keep almond paste in your pantry, which you will after making these just once, you can make them in a snap anytime. This recipe is a real winner and worth sharing.

Peach and Almond Tarts

serves 8

Adapted from What Would Brian Boitano Make?: Fresh and Fun Recipes for Sharing with Family and Friends (Lyons Press; 2013) by Brian Boitano
 2 (7 oz) packages almond paste
 2-3  peaches, depending on size
 2 tablespoons raw sugar (turbinado)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour or coconut flour, plus more for rolling dough
1 egg, plus another for egg wash
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Vegan Filling  
 1/2 recipe Cashew Cream Cheese Frosting
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper that have been well greased with butter or coconut oil or silpat baking mats and set aside. The almond paste tends to stick something fierce.

In a medium bowl, add cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg and vanilla. Beat with until well blended and smooth. Set aside.

Divide each package of almond paste into 4 equal portions. If you want to make smaller tarts, cut the paste into 5-8 equal portions. On a floured work surface roll each of the 4 portions into a 6-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick. Put 2 tablespoons of the cream cheese filling into the center of each round.

Quarter each peach and remove the pits. Cut each quarter into slices. Fan the slices on top of the filling in the center of 1 of the rounds. Gently fold the edge of the almond paste round over the edge of the filling. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets and repeat with the remaining almond rounds, filling and peaches.

Whisk together another egg and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl until well blended. If opting for a vegan version, just use water. Using a pastry brush to lightly brush each crostata with the egg wash and sprinkle each with the raw sugar.

Put the baking sheets into the oven and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Serve each crostata on individual plates. Boitano serves the tarts with ice cream and toasted sliced almonds, but they are perfect on their own.

Categories: Desserts, Fruits, Gluten Free, Vegan Desserts

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