Prunes, or dried plums, are a delicious, often underrated baking ingredient in the United States. In France, the fruit is used in sweet and savory recipes, including this one for a popular dessert filled with frangipane, or buttery almond cream, and plenty of plumped fruit, baked together until the filling turns a golden brown on top and the prunes are as sweet and tender as caramels. You could use a store-bought pie or tart shell, slightly parbaked before filling it up, or follow a recipe for an all-butter pie crust.
1 cup Earl Grey tea, hot
9 ounces (250 grams) prunes, pitted and halved
1 ½ cups (135 grams) sliced almonds, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
¾ cup (165 grams) sugar
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (90 grams) butter
1 tablespoon brandy
½ teaspoon almond essence (optional)
1 9-inch parcooked tart shell (see recipe)
1 teaspoon icing sugar, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375. In a bowl, pour the hot tea over the halved prunes, and let the fruit rehydrate while you make the almond filling.
Put almonds, sugar and salt in a food processor, and pulse just until ground (be careful not to overprocess, or the filling will become a hard paste). Add the butter, eggs, brandy and almond essence, if using, and pulse just until smooth.
Drain prunes well, pressing out any excess liquid with your hands, and place in the tart shell, more or less in an even layer. Spoon on the almond mixture, smoothing it with the back of the spoon, then sprinkle over remaining sliced almonds. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is a nice golden brown. Dust with icing sugar, and let cool before serving.