Butternut Squash Tart

Butternut squash is more than just the favorite phallic prop of chefs nationwide.  Its natural sweetness and mellow flavor flourishes in dishes that combine sweet and savory.  Not in a shocking, “What kind of ridiculous bullshit can we turn into ice cream next?” sort of way, but in a manner that is quite natural.  It pairs nicely with the spices and brown liquors that we turn toward to warm our bellies as the weather changes.

The recipe that follows is for a butternut squash tart.  Its crust is sweetened by dark brown sugar, which is then filled with a light, moist frangipane, and finally topped with thinly sliced butternut squash.

It is sweet, but not overwhelmingly so, and works quite well as a breakfast tart.  Dressed with a rum caramel it rises to the level of dessert.

Mise en Place

Equipment

  • kitchen scale
  • food processor
  • 12-inch tart pan
  • rolling pin
  • large, flat, clean work surface
  • plastic wrap

Ingredients

Pastry Crust

  • 12 oz all-purpose flour
  • 8 oz (1 stick) cold butter, divided into 1 tbs pieces.
  • 4 oz ice water
  • 2 tbs dark brown sugar

Frangipane

  • 4 oz slivered almonds
  • 4 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 oz all-purpose flour
  • 6 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Topping

  • narrow section of 1 small butternut squash, peeled
  • 4 oz soft butter
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbs maple syrup
  • 2 tbs light brown sugar

1) Make the pie crust.  Pulse the flour and butter in a food processor until the butter is divided into pea-sized pieces.  Slowly pour in the water, processing, until a cohesive mass if formed.  Remove the dough to a lightly-floured work surface and gently knead a few times.  Use wet hands if the dough is too dry.  Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in the plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to chill.

2) Make the frangipane.  Process the almonds, flour and sugar until uniform.  Add the remaining ingredients and process until a smooth cream forms.  Transfer to the refrigerator to chill.

3) Slice the butternut squash.  Slice the squash crosswise into thin circles, then slice in half to make semi-circles. Reserve.

4) Make the compound butter.  In a small bowl mix together the softened butter and the remainder of the ingredients until uniform.

5) Roll out the pastry dough, while heating the oven to 375 degrees.  Remove a piece of dough that is about 2/3rds of the total.  Re-wrap the smaller piece and reserve for another use.  Roll out the larger piece on a well-floured work surface until it is large enough to cover the tart pan with an inch or two of overhang.  Wrap the dough around the rolling pin, before unfurling it into the tart pan.  Gently press it into the corners of the pan, patching any holes with excess dough.  Remove the any excess dough that reaches beyond the inner rim of the tart pan.

6) Assemble the tart.  Spread the frangipane cream in an even layer over the crust.  Arrange the slices of squash in concentric circles on the surface of the frangipane.  Brush with the compound butter.  There should be a significant amount left over.

7) Bake the tart.  Bake the tart for 50 minutes or until the frangipane sets and the squash is slightly caramelized.  Remove from the oven and brush the surface with additional compound butter.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

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