Monday, September 26, 2011

New Beginnings

Dark Chocolate & Bing Cherry Frangipane Tart

I very well know that having huge, lengthy time gaps between posts is the exact opposite of what constitutes a good food blog, but I'm just a lazy ass constantly finding myself too sidetracked to keep writing posts.  But by the same token if this blog is supposed to be a reflection of my life to my readers, then I'd say I am doing a pretty damn good job seeing how if there was one word I'd use to describe my own life it would be inconsistent.

But I promise that I have a valid excuse for my absence this time though, and that is I started college everybody!!! 

the chalupa's new headquarters
Most of my friends from high school were ecstatic to finally move away from home.  Me, I sat in my bed the night before I was leaving not knowing what to think.  I actually like living at home, being in the presence of the family and friends whom I have known for the past eighteen years.  Yet, at the same time going away for college is something that might actually do me some good.  It was a mix of excitement, apprehension, anxiety and happiness.

I'll admit that the first couple days were tough.  There were long gaps where I just kept to myself, missing the feeling of sitting in my own room and looking at the chickens in the neighbor's backyard (in a non-stalkerish fashion).  The more I called and video-chatted with people from home the more I felt that I made a big mistake in coming here and that I should jump in the car to take the 4 hour drive back to Orange County.  Talking to family members made me miss all of the comforts I enjoy of being home- for me the sterile look and feel of college housing could never compare with the sensations of being back where you truly feel you belong, right down to that smell you whiff every time you walk through the front door.  I truly thought that the idea of making college my "new home" seemed like an impossibility.

And to top it off, there's only one "Vietnamese" restaurant in the area that serves pho, and while decent, does not compare to our family's secret recipe that I've been slurping since childhood.

a bakewell/frangipane hybrid tart

Cue the cheesiness, but when I started writing this post my longing to be back home turned into a warming kind of nostalgia of the memories of the food I made while back in my own kitchen.  Granted, I now no longer have granite counters, a gas cook top, and a stainless steel convection oven, but hey, I was privileged to have all of those conveniences in the first place.  But nevertheless, writing this post has helped me feel at home again.

I've learned to love where I am right now, and can't see myself at any other college.  Every Thursday night I go to the farmer's market that spans the entire downtown core of the city with a couple of classmates, resisting the urge to buy baskets of the sweetest strawberries I've ever tried for only three bucks.  Fridays my new friends and I will go to the countless small cozy restaurants that line the streets before heading to the beaches for a bonfire.  Saturdays we'll all drive to Costco to stock up on junk food for the week before binging on homework and complaining about the quality of on-campus dining.  Finally to cap off the weekend someone is always hosting a Sunday night dinner with an open-door policy.  There's nothing else I would rather do than eat in the presence of my new family.

damn, these are expensive 

I flipping love cherries.  Behind mangoes, they would have to be my absolutely favorite type of fruit, and if it weren't for their freaking expensive price I'd probably be eating them every minute of the day.  As a kid I was blissfully unaware of this fact since my dad would always return home each week with a huge Costco box of cherries that I would consume in a couple of days.  But alas, a tiny little obstacle called living on a budget has smacked me in the face and has limited my current intake of these little beauties. 

 dark chocolate snow


I stupidly thought though that the my elegant, tilted arrangement of the cherries would hold up through the baking process, but the fruit ended up settling on their rear ends and were engulfed by the frangipane, so moral of the story is don't try to be too particular when arranging the tart.

 fun-size tarts

When I first tasted the tart I couldn't detect any sort of chocolate flavor at all, which severely ticked me off.  However after taking a couple more bites the subtle elements of chocolate (it's slight bitterness, buttery richness, and deep, almost coffee like notes of smokiness) began showing through as opposed to a straight up dark chocolate flavor.  Those background notes actually rounded off the sweetness of the jam and frangipane quite nicely without being in your face.  You can certainly add more if you would like, but that's your call.

And even though something gluttonous and heavy such as sticky toffee pudding or fudgy bricks of brownies a la mode come to mind when I think of an ideal dessert, this tart was seriously good.  I wasn't really expecting to like it as much as I did, but I kept sneaking back into the fridge to sneak bites off of the mini tarts so that I ended up telling everyone there were only two to "begin with".

It's my schmaltzy, unrealistic, and completely inapplicable comparison of the week, but I guess I could sort of connect this dessert with my experience at college so far...  Something that I was lukewarm about at first but after a couple tastes I can't stay away from experiencing all of the flavors it has to offer.

(Gag me if I ever say anything so fruity again.)



Dark Chocolate & Bing Cherry Frangipane Tart

inspired by a mishmash of recipes


pate brisee
recipe adapted from Martha Stewart


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup iced apple juice or apple cider

via use real butter


4.5 oz (125g) unsalted butter, softened
4.5 oz (125g) icing sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp (2.5ml) almond extract
4.5 oz (125g) ground almonds
1 oz (30g) all purpose flour

to assemble
1/2-3/4 pound of pitted bing cherries
1/2 cup cherry preserves
3 ounces of grated bittersweet chocolate
1-2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
2 tablespoons of apricot preserves

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar.  Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.  With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube.  Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds.  To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Divide dough into two equal balls.  Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic.  Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour.  Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.

For the frangipane, cream butter and sugar together on high until light and fluffy, and the mixture has become very pale.  Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear curdled, but that is natural.  Mix in the almond extract.  With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour.  The final product may still retain a curdled look, but that's alright. 

Preheat oven to 400°F.

To assemble the tart, roll out one disc of dough and cover the bottom of a 9" tart pan.  If you only have an 11" tart pan like I do, you can get away by stealing some dough off of the second disc, and then proceed with the recipe, resulting in a tart that's a tad bit thinner than normal.  Spread the cherry preserves on top of the dough followed by a dusting of the grated chocolate.  Carefully and evenly spread the frangipane on top, and finally nestle and arrange the pitted cherries into the batter.  Sprinkle the fruit with the granulated sugar, and ake for approximately 30-35 minutes, until the batter is set and the top becomes golden brown.

Melt the apricot preserves with a tiny splash of water in a saucepan until it thins out into a workable glaze.  Brush onto the cooled tart to give a shiny appearance.  Serve either slightly warm or room temperature.  (A quenelle of vanilla ice cream wouldn't hurt)


  1. I'm like you--definitely have to budget for fruit! It can be so dang expensive.

  2. wow these look amazing! I've been wanting to make frangipane for a while so maybe i'll give this recipe a shot!

    and Congratulations on getting to college! I just graduated and am definitely missing it! Enjoy it while you can, time flies!

  3. These tarts look straight out of a bakery - beautiful! It also sounds totally delicious - I love cherries.

  4. @Katie: Fruit definitely has become a luxury for me lol!

    @Chris: Thanks! And I totally see what you mean, it's all been going by so fast already

    @Lucy: Thank you, and I do have an obsession with cherries as well!

  5. This looks delicious. Would love for you to share this with us over at

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