The first time that I went to Yellowstone National Park I wore my Easter finest. I cobbled together a suit of four-year-old girl armor: a pink ruffle-rimmed umbrella and my white straw church hat. I thought it best to face scorching water spewing from a gash in the earth with what little women learn to rely on for their most important moments: pastels. I suppose it goes without saying that a geyser eruption was less like running through a sprinkler than I had imagined. I was relieved.
As is often the case with me, I returned home having committed a tiny crime. Defying posted warnings, I may have pocketed a piece of petrified wood. It looked so much like bone. The eerie beauty of trees becoming increasingly human as they age was completely lost on me. My little old-as-the-earth piece of wood was the star of my Tupperware rock collection.
I’ve made my way through life with little collections. I was never ambitious in my accumulation, never one to build an army of Beanie Babies. I looked forward each year to the tin of tiny plastic angels that came and went with the Christmas decorations. Even then I wallowed in their uselessness, the relief that came with something that seemed to exist only for my idle enjoyment. This led me to boxes of unused erasers and a set of miniature teacups. And, and, and—tribes of trinkets remembered only after death or finally getting fed-up with a shitty landlord forces their removal and the inevitable untangling of the intricacy of spending time in one place.
Lately, I’ve been collecting currants in every color and letting them get soft on the kitchen table just so I can look at them longer. They’re strangely bodily, glowing as if lit from inside. Sometimes I could swear that I see them exhale. At the last possible moment, I make something of them.
Red Currant Frangipane Tart
- your favorite single crust pie crust recipe
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/4 t almond extract
- 8 oz red currants, washed and stems removed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 T cornstarch
- 1 T elderflower liqueur
- Follow instructions for rolling out your favorite single-crust pie crust recipe and press it into an 8 inch tart pan, trimming the edges. Refrigerate the crust as you complete the remaining steps.
- Combine almond meal, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, egg, butter, and almond extract in a food processor and mix until smooth. You made frangipane! Set aside.
- In a medium bowl combine the red currants, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 T cornstarch, and 1 T elderflower liqueur. Toss to combine, smashing a few currants as you go to get a little additional liquid in the mixture.
- Spread the frangipane into the tart crust into an even layer then sprinkle the redcurrant mixture over the top in another even layer.
- Bake at 375 until the edges of the filling begin to brown and the center is set, about 40 minutes.
- If you’re in need of a favorite gluten-free pie crust, I use the one in this recipe.
- Regarding the necessity of a food processor here: all I have is one of the much maligned mini-choppers, which my mom got me at a yard sale for $1. In other words, as long as you’re starting with almond meal, this recipe will succeed without a proper food processor.
- I might play with reducing the amount of sugar in the currant topping, but as it is there’s enough to make a crispy, sugary crust in some places, which is as wonderful as it sounds.
- Don’t fear the frangipane.