Sweet Tart Dough

Desserts by Pierre Hermé
4 22cm (8¾") tarts

Make this at least 1 day in advance because you need to chill and rest the dough for a minimum 4 hours or up to 2 days, before rolling and baking.

sticks unsalted butter 10oz, at room temperature
cups powdered sugar sifted
½ cup finely ground almond powder lightly packed. (I use a food processer to make this from slivered almonds)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla bean pulp or vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
cups all-purpose flour

Make in a food processor

  1. Process butter in food processor until creamy. Add powdered sugar and process to blend well.
  2. Add almonds, salt, and vanilla and continue to process until smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  3. Add the eggs and process to blend.
  4. Add the flour and pulse until the mixture just starts to come into a ball, and stop. The dough will be soft and very like Play-Doh.

Shape and Chill

  1. Gather the dough into a ball and divide it into 4 pieces. Gently press each piece into a disk and wrap each disk in plastic. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or for up to 2 days, before rolling and baking. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to a month.

To roll and bake

  1. For each tart, place a buttered tart ring on a parchment-lined baking sheet and keep close at hand. Work with one piece of dough at a time; keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator.
  2. Working on a lightly floured surface (marble is ideal), roll the dough to a thickness of between 1/16 and 1/8 inch (2 and 4mm), lifting the dough often and making certain that the work surface and dough are amply floured at all times. (Because this dough is so rich, it can be difficult to roll, but a well-floured surface makes the job easier. If you are a novice at rolling, you might find it easier to tape a large piece of plastic wrap to the counter and to roll the dough between that and another piece of plastic. If you do this, make sure to lift the top sheet of plastic wrap from time to time so that it doesn't crease and get rolled into the dough.) Roll the dough up around your rolling pin and unroll it onto the tart ring. Fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the ring, then run your rolling pin across the top of the ring to cut off the excess. If the dough cracks or splits as you work, don’t worry – patch the cracks with scraps (moisten the edges with water to "glue" them in place) and just make certain not to stretch the dough that’s in the pan. (What you stretch now will shrink later). Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork (unless the tart will be filled with a runny custard or other loose filling) and chill it for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  3. When you are ready to bake the crust(s), preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Fit a circle of parchment or foil into the crust and fill with dried beans or rice.
  4. Bake the crust for 18 to 20 minutes, just until it is very lightly coloured. If the crust needs to be fully baked, remove the parchment and beans and bake the crust for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Transfer the crust to a rack to cool.

Keeping: The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for a month. Frozen disks of dough take about 45 minutes to an hour at average room temperature to reach a good rolling-out consistency. Baked crusts can be kept uncovered at room temperature for about 8 hours.