Prunes and walnuts are classic ingredients from the Southwest of France and this tart uses both to great effect in a rich and sumptuous dessert, which I made on Christmas Eve to have on Christmas Day.
125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
50g plain flour
3 free-range eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
75g chopped walnuts
12 walnut halves
200g stoned prunes, (Pruneau d’Agen, if you can find them) soaked in brandy
Preheat the oven to 200C (180C for a fan oven).
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and use it to line a 27cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Line the pastry case with baking parchment or aluminium foil and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the parchment and baking beans and return the pastry to the oven for an extra eight minutes, or until the pastry looks dry and faintly coloured. Set aside to cool.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180C or 160C for a fan oven.
To make the filling, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the chopped walnuts, flour and eggs. Mix to thoroughly combine. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Lay out the drained prunes on the base of the cooled pastry case. Spread the frangipane mixture over the prunes. Use a pallet knife to smooth the filling. Sit the walnut halves on top of the frangipane in a nice regular pattern.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is set and golden-brown.
Leave to cool in the tin before removing to a serving plate.
Serve with plain or whipped cream, crème fraiche or ice cream.
You need a rich dessert wine with this, ideally a Sauternes, Barsac, Loupiac or Montbazillac.