Shortly after the all-American food fest of last week, I was seized with the urge to try out some of the recipes from the stack of Larousse 100% plaisir samples I’d brought back from Prague. I’d only managed to bring back two or three from the pile that a friend in publishing gave me, but Goûters (Snacks) seemed a good place to start.
While in Prague, on one of the last weekends there, I’d made a sugar tart from this cookbook. It had turned out incredibly chewy, though Jakub’s dad said loyally, “It’s good with coffee.” When I got back to New York, I tried it again, and, here, the yeast dough rose beautifully, with the end result still chewy but vaguely successful. (And even better with coffee.) This time, though, I didn’t want to make something that required eaters to wash it down with coffee, so I chose to make Tarte au raisin et au pineau des Charentes, a grape tart flavored with cognac and Pineau des Charentes.
This is an easy tart to make, provided you have a tart pan and lots of Pineau (or a sweet white wine). Even if you don’t, the finished product is still very good, though you probably have no business calling it anything but Tarte au raisin, especially on Bastille Day…
Most of the cookies, cakes, and tarts in the book don’t require much assembly. They’re designed to be thrown together for an afternoon snack, although the grape tart is great for breakfast the next day, on a blearily muggy July morning.
This is essentially a grape quiche: you make the dough, press it into the pan, and scatter the grapes on top. You then stir together eggs, sugar, powdered almonds, cream, Pineau, and cognac, and that gets poured, doucement, over the grapes.
Since I’m obsessed with the combination of recipes and stories over here, I was thinking of my semester in France as I made this–blackberry tea, cassis candies, big bowls of coffee, the baguette drawer in my host family’s kitchen, and of my host mother calling everyone to dinner, nightly, from somewhere in the apartment: On va se mettre au table!
Grape Tart (adapted from Goûters (c) Larousse, 2006)
scant 1 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tbsp. very cold butter (grated, or diced in small pieces)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 lb. seedless green grapes
3 tbsp. powdered almonds
3 1/2 tbsp. heavy cream
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp. Pineau des Charentes blanc*
1 tbsp. cognac
pinch of salt
*(You can substitute another sweet white wine, such as muscat, for the Pineau.)
• Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the butter, pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 3 tablespoons cold water. Mix together (with your fingertips) to form a ball of dough. Do not knead it.
• Flatten the dough into an 8 1/2″ to 9″ tart pan.
• Preheat the oven to 400° F.
• Take the grapes off the bunch (removing the stems), and wash and dry them. Arrange them in the pan, spacing them apart evenly.
• Mix together the eggs, remaining sugar, powdered almonds, cream, and Pineau in a bowl.
• Gently pour this mixture over the grapes. Bake for 30 minutes. (If the tart crust browns too quickly, reduce the temperature to 350° F.
• Remove tart from oven, and let cool before removing from pan.