The Queen of Hearts’ Tarts

These look exactly like the tarts I made as props for my SSOO (significant-something-or-other)’s recently-closed summer-musical-theater-program-for-youth production of Alice in Wonderland.  I usually make costumes and act as a dresser, but wasn't able to this summer.

I almost always do a picnic, themed to that summer’s show, for the night I get to watch.  We had Tweedle Dee and Dum’s Ham and Cheese Sandwiches (and if you’d seen our version of the story, where Dee and Dum are vaudeville performers, you’d understand why that’s appropriate!), Wonderland Garden Orzo Salad (with lots of veggies and a very light lemon/olive oil dressing), the tarts, and Mad Iced Tea (flavored with ginger and mint).  And Cheshire Cat Chow (actually purchased kettle corn) to nibble during the performance.  

The prop tarts were aluminum tart tins, tan felt and glue for the crusts, crumpled tissue paper for the cream, and papier mache molded into cherries and spray-painted red.  I used the tart tins left-over in the package for the real ones, which tasted a whole lot better…

The frangipane and whipped crème fraiche are courtesy of Martha Stewart, but hers was an apricot tart.  The full recipe is on the Martha Stewart website if you're curious.

Makes about five tarts, depending on the size of your tins.

1 package refrigerated pie dough

1/3 cup toasted skinned hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup powered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup crème fraiche

1 can ‘extra fruit’-style cherry pie filling

Unroll pie dough and cut circles a little larger than your tart tins.  Very gently lay circles into tins and press down lightly to line tins.  Prick bottoms with a fork, line with parchment paper and fill with pie weights.  Bake at 450 degrees F for 10 – 12 minutes, or until edges are golden.  Remove pie weights and parchment paper and let cool for 10 minutes. 

Reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. 

Pulse 1/3 cup hazelnuts in a food processor until finely ground.  Stir together ground hazelnuts, flour, and salt. 

Beat butter and granulated sugar until pale and creamy.  Beat in egg.  Add hazelnut mixture, and beat until just combined.  (This mixture is called frangipane, and can be refrigerated airtight for up to a week.)

Spoon frangipane into cooled tart shells, smoothing the tops.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Bake until set, about 10 minutes.  Let cool.

Just before serving, beat cream with powdered sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form; whisk in crème fraiche.  Spread over frangipane.  Spoon cherry pie filling on top of cream.  Serve immediately.

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