prune and armagnac tart

A brilliant winter tart for serving with a spoon of Creme fraiche or vanilla ice-cream.

You can make it in a few weeks to eat over Christmas, or if you have more time now, this is a good tart to make it sooner and freeze. It freezes perfectly.

300g softened unsalted butterServes 8-10

  • 300g caster sugar
  • 300g coarsley ground, blanched whole almonds
  • 3 eggs
  • 25 prunes in Armagnac, and a few tbsps of the brandy prune juices
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For pastry:

  • 110g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 175g plain flour
  • 2 egg yollks
  • 50g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt

Soak the prunes covered with boiling water and a couple of Earl grey teabags for a few hours.

Drain and add a good slug of Armagnac (enough to cover them) and leave to infuse overnight – but the longer the better so often I just pour them into a jar with the spirit and leave them for ages. Those in themselves are delicious with vanilla ice-cream.

To make the pastry, rub the butter into the flour or pulse in a food processor until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Add the egg yolks, sugar and salt and pulse/mix again until the pastry comes together in a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill for an hour.

Once chilled, roll out the pastry and use it to line a 28cm tart tin.

Return to the fridge for half an hour. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

Prick the bottom of the tart with a fork, cover with greaseproof paper or foil and weigh down with rice or baking beans.

Bake the pastry case blind in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Take the parchment paper off and put the case back in the oven for 5-10 more mins until the edges are just starting to turn biscuit coloured.

Take it out of the oven, allow to cool a bit and then brush over with egg yolk to seal the cracks and fork holes to stop the filling leaking.

Now make the filling. Using an electric hand whisk, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and light. Add the ground almonds, beat to combine and then add eggs, one by one, mixing well.

Finally, add a few tablespoons of the brandy prune juices and vanilla extract.

Pour the mixture into the tart base and push the prunes into the top.

Turn the oven down to 150°C/gas mark 2 and cook for 50 minutes, turn up to 160°C until golden brown.

Leave to cool, then lift it out of the tart tin. Dust with icing sugar and serve.