Note: On the opening night of Alice Water's Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse, pastry chef Lindsey Shere served almond tart. Twenty-five years later, just before the restaurant's silver anniversary, we found Shere still in the kitchen, overseeing the desserts of Chez Panisse for Waters, who went on to become the mother of California cuisine. In our cover story looking back at the impact of Chez Panisse on American cooking, we printed this version of Shere's signature tart from the "Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook" (Random House, 1982); it also appears in "Chez Panisse Desserts" by Lindsey Shere (Random House, 1985).
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3 to 4 drops almond extract
3 to 4 drops vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cold water
1 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon kirsch
2 drops almond extract
1 cup blanched sliced almonds
Cut butter into bits and let soften slightly. Mix flour and sugar in bowl. Cut butter into flour with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine almond and vanilla extracts with cold water in small bowl, then quickly stir mixture into flour. Gather dough into ball and flatten slightly. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.
Allow dough to stand at room temperature briefly until it is malleable. Roll out dough and press into 9-inch tart form with removable ring, reserving small amount. Press dough evenly over bottom and sides of pan, about 1/8-inch thick, and extend dough 1/8 inch above top of ring. Prick shell lightly and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Dough may be refrigerated 8 hours or frozen.
Partly bake tart shell at 400 degrees until shell begins to set and brown, about 10 minutes. Remove shell to cake rack and cool to room temperature. Patch any holes in shell by smoothing very small bit of reserved dough over tears.
Bring whipping cream, sugar, salt, Grand Marnier, kirsch and almond extract to full rolling boil in large, heavy saucepan. Cook until liquid bubbles thickly and has silky texture, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add almonds. Set aside 15 minutes to steep, then pour into prepared tart shell.
Line floor of oven with aluminum foil and bake tart on center rack at 350 degrees 20 to 30 minutes. Filling will bubble up and may overflow, then settle and begin to caramelize. Rotate tart frequently during last 15 minutes of baking so top is even deep golden brown. Remove tart to cake rack and let cool to room temperature before cutting.
Makes 6 to 8 servings. Each of 8 servings contains about: 450 calories; 160 mg sodium; 72 mg cholesterol; 32 grams fat; 35 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 0.46 gram fiber.