For once I'm posting something Daniela baked, my Birthday cake or actually tart: a strawberry almond tart. A question to other food bloggers: does your partner also complain because you don't post what they cook? Daniela: happy now :-))? But I'm digressing, back to the cake/tart. It is made of a shortcut pastry shell, filled with an almond cream. On top of this come whole strawberries "glued" to the rest of the cake with dark chocolate. The combination works great: the crunchy sweet nutty base is balanced by the bitter chocolate and the fruity fresh strawberries. If you use really ripe summer strawberries it's even better. The strawberries Daniela used were OK though, the last weirdly warm days seem to have caused the first strawberries to ripen naturally.
For the cake you'll need:
250 g all purpose flour (9 oz)
250 g cold butter (9 oz)
175 g sugar (6 oz)
100 g chopped almonds (3.5 oz)
100 g ground almonds (3.5 oz)
2 Tbs starch (potato or maize)
between 1-1,5 kg strawberries (2-3 lb)
200 g dark chocolate (7 oz)
50 g white or dark chocolate (depending on what you prefer) for decorating (2 oz)
Make the shortcut pastry dough first mixing flour, 150 g butter, 75 g sugar, the yolk and 3 Tbs cold water. Wrap the dough in saran wrap and leave it at least 1 hour in the fridge to rest. In this time prepare the almond filling. Melt 90 g of the remaining butter and set aside. Roast 70 g of the chopped almonds with the last 10 g butter. Add, off the fire, the ground almonds and all the remaining sugar and mix. Add the 3 eggs one after another, adding the next one only when the preceding is fully incorporated in the mixture. Once done, add starch and melted butter and mix. Once the dough has rested roll it quite thin. You should be able to roll it so that it fits a 30 cm (12 in) tart form (buttered and floured). The border shouldn't be higher than 1 cm (little less than 1/2 in). Bake blind for 15 minutes at 180C (350F). After this time fill the tart with the almond cream and bake another 15 minutes. Let slightly cool.
Meanwhile wash and clean the strawberries, removing the "green stuff". Melt the dark chocolate in a water bath or using a microwave. Dip one side of strawberries in chocolate and lay them on the baked base trying to arrange them in a nice pattern. You can also dip the base, as Daniela did this time: this way you'll have a higher strawberry nut ratio per slice and therefore a stronger strawberry taste when you eat it. Follow your preference. Once the base is fully covered with strawberries decorate the cake. To do this melt the 50 g white (or dark) chocolate and fill a little zip-loc bag with it. Cut one corner and use the bag to draw a sort of cross-hatch pattern on the strawberries. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped almonds. Leave (if possible and if you can resist) in a cool room till the chocolate solidifies.