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Mirabelle Plums & Almond Frangipane Tart

Tarte Aux Mirabelles

I have not been here a week yet and my heart is already replenished and my eyes filled with beautiful memories. I keep catching myself throughout the day thinking "I can’t believe I am here". It’s good to go home and see all my cousins for a joyous occasion for once. I’ve been enjoying my mom’s wonderful cooking, let my nose take me to the cheese box and renewed my love affair with the most fragrant cantaloupes, Saturn peaches, and tiny mirabelles. I’m in complete bliss.

On Saturday my grandfather gathered the family for a celebration of his 100th birthday. As he said, never in his life did he imagine that the family that he and my grandmother started at 2 would grow to an intimate (!) group of 50 – children, grandchildren, great grandchildren (and their spouses). That’s us. We as a whole function as a giant tribe composed of many smaller clans. It’s joyous. It’s loud. It’s everywhere and all at once. It’s tensed and climatic. It’s pretty darn awesome when I get to be there (and so grateful my uncle took this photo!).

Tarte Aux Mirabelles

When you think that there are exactly 100 years between my grandfather and his last great granddaughter, well you are slightly inclined to smell the roses and open up the bubbly! And celebrate we did! My cheeks hurt so much from laughing and smiling as I looked over my shoulders to see my cousins now all grown up and parents of their own.

As I said, my heart is full. Even fuller now that I got to spend quality time with my brother’s children for a few days. Because of their age difference we were able to take full advantage of both their rhythms and while Camille was napping, Lea and I spent time baking and chatting about life and other “very serious things” (her words!).

Tarte Aux Mirabelles

We did have a little baking spree last Thursday afternoon and kept the oven quite busy while filling my parents’ home with the most captivating scents of cardamom, mirabelles, honey, almonds,… A perfectly golden Tarte Aux Mirabelles was the reward of an afternoon of rolling, mixing and whipping.

Perfect sun gold tiny mirabelles from a neighbor’s garden with soft as silk pulp and just enough juice to keep you busy licking your fingers clean. Time to pit the mirabelles literally flew by as we talked and laughed. While I was taking care of the fruit, Lea rolled the remainder of a pate sable my mom had made a few days prior and I started on the almond filling. I noticed that my love for stone fruits and frangipane is a family thing. Lea was all about it too. Of course! She’s my niece…ehehe!


We are leaving the cool weather of Paris tomorrow for the sunny terrain of the Hautes Alpes and Provence and where I grew up and finally taking a little detour to go to Toulouse in the South West to be with my brother on his turf for a couple of days. It’s going to be a few packed days of driving and visiting!

I want to walk up and down my old street once more. I want to stare at the mountain Sainte Victoire again, sit under the tree where I used to watch the old guys play “la petanque”, drink a menthe a l’eau in the shade and bite into a pompe a l’huile one more time.

Can’t wait to show you more of the gorgeous scenery and foods of the South of France.

Tarte Aux Mirabelles

Tarte Frangipane Mirabelles – Almond and Mirabelles Tart

Serves 8-10

Note: you can substitute mirabelles with any stone fruit that you favor. If you are not baking gluten free, replace the rice, millet, sorghum flours and cornstarch with 1.5 cups of all purpose flour and omit the xanthan gum.

For the crust:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 egg yolks
pinch salt
1/2 cup (80gr) superfine sweet white rice flour
1/2 cup (60gr) millet flour
1/4 cup (30gr) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (40gr) corn starch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup cold water (optional if the dough seems too dry)

For the filling:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, softened
1/3 cup (115gr) honey
1 cup (100 gr) ground almonds (blanched, slivered, whole, your call)
2 eggs
1/4 cup (60gr) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1-2 cups pitted mirabelles plums (or your preferred stone fruit)

Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip the butter on medium speed until light and airy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Mix until incorporated. Add the salt, and all the different flours, and the xantham gum and mix briefly. Add some water, one tablespoon at a time if the dough feels too dry. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured (use more rice flour) board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic to fit your prefered pie pan. If the dough tears while you roll or/and transfer into the pan, just patch it with your fingertips. Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dy beans and par bake for 10-15 minutes until almost completely baked. Remove the weights and parchment paper. At this point you can refrigerate the baked crust for up to 3 days before using.

Prepare the almond filling and mirabelles topping:
Place the butter, honey, ground almonds, and the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth (can also be done in a food processor). Add the cream and cardamom but stir in it instead of whisking not to emulsify it or it will rise while baking.
Arrange the mirabelles halves at the bottom of the pie crust and pour the cream over them. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350F. Drizzle with a bit of extra honey if desired when still warm.

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martina August 30, 2010 um 10:27 am

You're inspiring…we can actually feel your heart full of joy and serenity. I can totally understand you, living far from your birth place could end up emotional some times. Enjoy, get richer and laugh out loud

Nina Timm August 30, 2010 um 10:30 am

My gran lived to be a 97 years old and our family gatherings pretty much always revolved around her so I totally related to this post. Of course beautifully captured as always.

Jessica @ How Sweet August 30, 2010 um 10:37 am

That tart is so beautiful!

fragolina August 30, 2010 um 11:10 am

Beautiful story and amazing pictures!! I just love my village, being in the quiet beautiful nature. The tart looks scrumptious!!

Jenn August 30, 2010 um 11:52 am

Gorgeous! I just discovered mirabelles last week at the market, and love them!
Loving this series of posts abut visiting your family and home, it makes me miss visiting mine very much. I am learning very quickly that is one of the biggest challenges of living an ocean away from so many loved ones, and I am def. already looking forward to what I am sure will be deeply treasured memories on my own next visit "home".

Rachel (Two Healthy Plates) August 30, 2010 um 11:55 am

This dessert is beautiful! I love that the filling has cardamom, such a good flavor!

This is the second recipe I've seen with plums today…it's that time of year! =D

Vicki August 30, 2010 um 11:56 am

So lovely to see a family enjoying each other. Your grandfather is beautiful and niece adorable.

shaz August 30, 2010 um 12:19 pm

It's so wonderful to hear what a great time you're having with your family. And your photos, even out of the studio, look so breath taking. True mark of the professional 🙂

Susan August 30, 2010 um 2:10 pm

Your niece looks so cute helping you with your baking.

lucy August 30, 2010 um 2:11 pm

this cake is favolous and good.veramente una torta dal sapore unico e tanti auguri per la vostra festa!

Claudia August 30, 2010 um 2:13 pm

The tart is just stunning. The joy in your voice is contagious. What a beautiful blog – an ode to sharing and caring while breaking bread together.

Juls @Juls' Kitchen August 30, 2010 um 2:24 pm

Beautiful tart! I've met for the first time Mirabelles in Aix en Provence this summer. I tought they were cherries (I don't speak French) then I tried one of them and.. mmmhhhm! sweet as honey, soft, juicy! I loved them in the very moment!

Bonnie August 30, 2010 um 2:45 pm

Hi Helen,

We are not gluten-free but I'd love to make your tart. What substitutions would I use for the different flours?

Thanks. So glad that you are enjoying your trip. I feel that I am almost there with you. I wish I was.

Stephanie August 30, 2010 um 3:05 pm

what a gorgeous post… thank you for sharing yet another glimpse into the beauty of your life. i am excited to try this tart, perhaps with the plums that are just appearing at the farmers' market. cheers to you and yours!

Prerna@IndianSimmer August 30, 2010 um 3:07 pm

I come from a HUGE family myself so I know how crazy fun it is to be with everyone all at a time!
That's a beautiful post and don't even wanna say anymore that how awesome all the pictures look in your posts!

Sophie Sportende Foodie August 30, 2010 um 3:33 pm

The tarte looks divine!! Stunning too! I also love mirabelles. You can find them in nearlly every garden.

MMMMMMM,…fab gf food!

Shaheen {The Purple Foodie} August 30, 2010 um 3:36 pm

I caught a photo of your niece on facebook this past week! How cute. She is so lucky to have been coached by an expert like you!

The Blue-Eyed Bakers August 30, 2010 um 4:18 pm

We can only imagine how wonderful that birthday celebration was…what an amazing gift! And this tart looks divine…those plums sound perfect!

Helene August 30, 2010 um 4:24 pm

Sophie: that's a big big stretch…especially where my parents live or where I live in the Southern US but I like your enthusiasm 🙂

Thanks everyone!

Gloria Baker August 30, 2010 um 5:12 pm

Abolutely beautiful tart!I think your grandfather is adorable! gloria

Patricia Scarpin August 30, 2010 um 5:51 pm

I wish I had such a beautiful helper in my kitchen, Helen! She's adorable! Can I "borrow" her sometime? 🙂
Lovely tart for a lovely occasion.

oneordinaryday August 30, 2010 um 6:19 pm

How wonderful and what fabulous photos. As always, you inspire me.

Margherita August 30, 2010 um 6:45 pm

It looks amazing, ready to be bitten into!

margie August 30, 2010 um 6:47 pm

What a lovely, lovely tart! I just ate the last of a prune plum tart with custard filling for breakfast today, but those golden Mirabelles are even prettier than quetsches! I like that this tart is thick – it looks very sturdy.

Speaking of sturdy, your grandfather looks fantastic for 100 – congratulations to him!

Jessica August 30, 2010 um 6:53 pm

I really enjoyed your post. It's so wonderful to have a close family, even if you do fight sometimes. (Don't we all? lol)
Happy birthday to your grandfather. He is certainly blessed.

[email protected]

Gen August 30, 2010 um 7:50 pm

Encore une fois les photos parlent d'elles même. Quelle évasion pour les yeux et les papilles! Moi aussi j'adore les mirabelles.

Unknown August 30, 2010 um 8:49 pm

That look so good.

The InTolerant Chef ™ August 30, 2010 um 9:48 pm

Cardamom is my favoutite spiice, subltle,musty and sweet. It's nice to get together wilth people you love and who you don't ave to 'prove'anything to.

Helene August 30, 2010 um 11:03 pm

The InTolerant Chef: I do understand what you are saying but I never feel like I have to prove anything to anyone. I often tell people, friends or work related "This is me, and I'm cool with me, and if you're not cool with me, well then, that's you."

Beth August 31, 2010 um 12:36 am

It's, how do you say it in French, ce magnifique? Lovely!

Kitchen M August 31, 2010 um 6:48 am

Happy belated birthday to your grandfather! Your niece is so adorable. I love how she is using her pocket camera like a DSLR. 🙂

monica August 31, 2010 um 1:04 pm

everything about this post is so beautiful! the writing, the photos, the recipe…truly one of the most touching posts I have read in a long time! enjoy yourself & take tons of photos!!!

The Italian Dish August 31, 2010 um 1:33 pm

How wonderful for you – beautiful post, Helene.

Amber August 31, 2010 um 3:10 pm

Beautiful story,beautiful tarta.

kickpleat August 31, 2010 um 4:49 pm

I can't imagine a more timely post as I love frangipane tarts and was recently looking for a recipe! Your holiday sounds amazing and ooooh, that tart pan? So pretty! My grandfather always played petanque with us on the beach when we were kids at their Quebec cottage. Ah, memories!

Ashlae August 31, 2010 um 5:21 pm

Just wanted to let you know that you have been of great inspiration to me. Perfecting macaronage is not easy, but you helped to get me through it. Do not ever stop baking. Au revoir!

Angharad August 31, 2010 um 5:42 pm

What a joyous celebration! 100 years!
I basically cannot wait for you to show us "your" south of france because that part of the world is one of my favourite places on earth. Hurrah!

Valentina August 31, 2010 um 8:00 pm

I can feel your excitement in the way you narrate. How lovely.and really lovely of you to share all this. Beautiful frangipane.

El September 1, 2010 um 12:41 am

I'm glad you're having a good time. I have to say, as much as I love your food shots (and I do) I am really enjoying your portrait photography. I noticed something different about your portraits way back when you posted that picture of the bread baker. A lot of photographers take nice pictures of people- you really capture the essence of your subject in an artful way. They're very compelling and I love seeing them.

Yue Jiang September 2, 2010 um 3:13 am

Nice photos!!! i love your blog!

Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes September 2, 2010 um 3:58 pm

I love your work. Also, I gave you an award on my blog! Its under my cheesecake brownies post. Please go check it out! 🙂

Ludmilla Cardoso de Oliveira September 2, 2010 um 6:03 pm

Será que eu posso fazer com uma outra coisa ao inves de amedoas? o que combinaria? eu não gosto muito de amendoas! abraço, adorei o blog!

Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking September 2, 2010 um 6:04 pm

This is simply gorgeous! Thank you for sharing this recipe and these beautiful photos!

Lori September 2, 2010 um 10:51 pm

Just so beautiful. All of it.

steph- whisk/spoon September 3, 2010 um 1:01 pm

100 years is certainly reason for a big family celebration! sounds like you are having a wonderful time…i know your family is really glad you could be there.

Y September 6, 2010 um 12:00 am

Gorgeous post, and beautiful photos! I especially love the one of Lea.

Cosy Bake September 7, 2010 um 1:34 pm

Wow, you beuatifuk pictures really make me wanna be there. And your brownie ice cream tart simply too good to look at!! I must try making some one of these days. Thanks so much for all the wonderfull sharing…. It's so inspiring.

wholesale Juicy Handbags September 11, 2010 um 7:04 am

I noticed something different about your portraits way back when you posted that picture of the bread baker. A lot of photographers take nice pictures of people- you really capture the essence of your subject in an artful way. They're very compelling and I love seeing them.

Audric Montuno September 12, 2010 um 7:35 pm

Hello Helene,

Thank you for posting such intimate, touching moments and such fantastic gluten-free recipes! I've tried this particular recipe twice, and would like to know what the final consistency of the frangipane should be. Mine seems to be quite soft and not very firm, even after 30-40min. in the oven. Is it supposed to be this way?

Thank you so much!

jane @ [email protected] September 16, 2010 um 1:44 am

I so thoroughly enjoy your blog. I have a French Country store in Park City,UT and people assume I buy in France. Not so, have never been and after seeing your pictures, I must re-think this and go.

Unknown September 16, 2010 um 11:52 am

Your recent visit to Provence showed how much a luxury simplicity can be. Your aunt's home is beautiful.

Green Key November 19, 2010 um 3:31 pm

Helene, I just want to tell you how thrilled I am to have found this recipe! Last night I made an apple galette using this crust, and today I served it to my friends at work (lest I eat the entire thing myself) and they loved it! Several said that they would never know that the crust was gluten free. I've tried other gf crust recipes with poor results – so am beside myself with happiness! I'm sorry that you had to go gf, but I am thrilled that you've been able to adapt your recipes to accommodate the needs to the gf diet. I love your blog and plan to try more of your lovely recipes.

Anonymous November 25, 2010 um 5:41 pm

Finally, an issue that I am passionate about. I have looked for information of this caliber for the last several hours. Your site is greatly appreciated.

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