A Sweet Season

Sweeten Up Your Fall With This Fruity Tasty Treat

by Francisco Almaguer // October - November - December 2016

Fall is my favorite season for cooking because it’s the ideal time to integrate North Carolina’s fresh foods into your dessert recipe book. Our state’s fruit and produce selection – including everything from apples, pears, and cranberries to kabocha squash and sugar pumpkin – offers a diverse selection of ingredients that can be included in unique dishes that are sure to impress at your next meal or holiday get-together. I’ve found that people crave anything warm, nutty, sweet, and fruity, so I love to create desserts with a savory mix of those flavors combined into one delectable treat.

Here is the recipe for one of my favorites – apple tarts encased within a sweetened, orange sucrée and topped with a cashew frangipane – that is the perfect finish to the perfect holiday meal.

Makes 8-10 3” tarts or a 9” pie. I prefer to use Granny Smith apples, but any apple variety can be used.

Soaked Apples

   – 4 apples
   – 2 lemons
   – 6 cups of water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make lemon water by mixing the juice from the lemons with the water. Peel the apples, remove the cores, and cut the apples in half. Soak the apples in the lemon water.

Cashew PÂte SucrÉe

   – 6 ounces soft butter
   – 4 ounces sugar
   – 1 egg yolk
   – 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
   – 1/4 teaspoon orange zest
   – 1/4 teaspoon salt
   – 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
   – 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
   – 10 ounces all-purpose flour
   – 3 ounces cashews
   – 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds

Process the black sesame seeds and cashews in a robot coupe. In a bowl, sift the salt, ground cardamom, ground ginger, and all-purpose flour. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for two minutes on medium speed. Add the egg, mix, vanilla extract, and orange zest, and mix well. Add the sifted ingredients in three increments to the mixer. Add the cashews and black sesame seeds from the robot coupe into the mixer, and mix well. Chill the dough for one hour then roll it out to 1/4” thickness. Spray a 9” pie pan or 8-10 small 3” molds with nonstick spray, then mold with the dough. Bake for four minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another four minutes. (If using 3” molds, punch out the crust right after it comes out of the oven and cool completely.)

Cashew Frangipane

   – 6 ounces soft butter
   – 4 ounces sugar
   – 1 egg
   – 1/2 teaspoon salt
   – 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
   – 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
   – 8 ounces toasted cashews
   – 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
   – 1/4 cup pastry flour
   – 1½ ounces sugar

Process the toasted cashews, pastry flour, sesame seeds, and sugar in a robot coupe. Cream the soft butter and sugar for two minutes on medium speed. Add egg and mix, and then add salt, vanilla extract, and orange zest. In three increments, add the cashews, pastry flour, sesame seeds, and sugar from the robot coupe into the mixer. Mix until incorporated. If you used sucrée molds as the crust, scoop the frangipane with a large ice cream scoop and fill the molds. If using a pan-molded sucrée, nicely layer the cashew frangipane until filled. Slice the soaked apples into thin strips and place on top. Sprinkle the apples with raw sugar. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 15 minutes.

Francisco Almaguer

The pastry chef at ÃN Asian Cuisines, a fine dining restaurant in Cary. Born in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico, Almaguer moved to San Francisco, California where he had a successful career for several years. After working in California, he moved to New York where he was executive pastry chef to three different restaurants and was featured in several publications including The New York Times and Art Culinaire. Since moving to North Carolina in 2005, he has been creating delicious desserts for ÃN Asian Cuisines.