A few years ago, I took a French pastry course, where we learned to make the classic French pastries and cakes that are the heart and soul of contemporary French-style baking. The best part of the class was, of course, the fact that we were able to take home the freshly baked delicacies that we had made that day. One recipe in particular, called a dartois, was a real favorite of mine, but like many of the classic French recipes, the filling had about ten steps. For this French pastry, I tried to modify the recipe so that it would take only about 20 minutes to prepare. I did it successfully, and I think you will enjoy it as much as my taste-testers did.
- ¼ cup pure almond paste -
- ¼ cup granulated sugar -
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter or margarine, softened -
- Pinch salt -
- 1 large egg -
- ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract -
- ¼ tsp almond extract -
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour -
- 1 package frozen puff pastry precut squares, thawed (17¼ oz.) -
- 1 egg for brushing -
- ½ Tbsp confectioner’s sugar -
1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
2. Purée almond paste, granulated sugar, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor until smooth.
3. Add 1 egg, vanilla and almond extract and purée until incorporated. Add flour and pulse until incorporated.
4. Using a large cookie sheet as a work surface, cut each puff pastry square in half, creating 2 even rectangles from each piece of pastry. (There are about 8 squares in a package.) Cut slits in the center of one half, using a knife (cut slits only in the center, leaving a border of about half an inch without any cuts). Slits should be fairly close together, about ¼-inch apart (see photo).
5. Mound a spoonful of almond cream in the center of each uncut rectangle of pastry, spreading slightly. Immediately cover with slit rectangle of pastry and press edges together lightly. Holding a small spoon with side at an angle, press around edge to seal decoratively (optional). Repeat with remaining pastry and filling. Brush with a beaten egg.
6. Place on a parchment-lined baking tray in lower third of oven and bake until puffed and a pale golden color, approximately 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
NOTE: If you can find pure almond paste, it is the best, but if not, you can use marzipan.
TIP: It is best and easiest to work with the puff pastry while it is cold, so defrost it in the refrigerator and don’t remove it until you are ready to use it.