The name of this delightful antique tart derives from a small lace fichu worn as a head covering by women in the traditional costumes of some areas of France. The word also refers to the diminutive of the name Francoise—it may well be a combination of the two.
One 10-inch tart, about 12 small servings
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 4 pieces
1 large egg
6 ounces canned almond paste, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
5 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup (about 1 ounce) blanched sliced almonds
Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling
1/2 cup apricot preserves, strained
1/2 cup seedless raspberry preserves
One 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom
- For the crust, combine the dry ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times, until the butter is mixed in finely. Add the egg and pulse repeatedly until the dough forms a ball. Invert the dough to a floured work surface and carefully remove the blade. Scrape the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for about 1 hour, until it is firm. You may keep the dough refrigerated for up to 2 days before continuing.
- For the almond filling, combine the almond paste, sugar, and one of the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with the paddle on medium speed until the mixture is beginning to mass around the paddle. Beat in the remaining yolks one at a time, beating smooth after each addition. Beat in the lemon zest and butter and continue beating until the mixture is light, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl and paddle with a large rubber spatula. Beat in the whole egg and beat smooth. Finally, decrease the speed to lowest and beat in the flour. Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the filling a final mixing with a large rubber spatula. Set aside while preparing the crust.
- Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and gently knead it on a floured surface until it is smooth and malleable. Form the dough into a disk. Place the dough on a floured surface and flour it. Roll the dough to a 12-inch disk. Fold the dough in half and transfer it to the pan, lining up the fold with the diameter of the pan. Unfold the dough into the pan and press it firmly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Use a bench scraper or the back of a knife to sever the excess dough at the rim of the pan.
- Scrape the filling into the crust and spread it smoothly with a small offset spatula.
- Cool the tart completely on a rack.
- When you are ready to finish the tart, set a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
- For the meringue, half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Whisk the egg whites, salt, and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer and place the bowl over the pan of boiling water. Whisk constantly until the egg whites are hot (about 130 degrees) and the sugar has dissolved. Place the bowl on the mixer with the whisk attachment and whip the meringue on medium-high speed until it has increased in volume and holds its shape well. Don't over whip, or the meringue will become dry and separated.
- With a medium offset spatula, spread about a third of the meringue smoothly on the tart, making sure the meringue touches the edge of the crust all around. Place the remaining meringue in a pastry bag fitted with a medium star tube (Ateco #844). Pipe 5 straight lines of the meringue on top of the tart, about 1 inch apart. Pipe another 5 straight lines at a 45-degree angle to the first ones. Use any remaining meringue to pipe a border of rosettes at the edge of the meringue all around the top of the tart.
- Sprinkle the meringue with the sliced almonds and dust it generously with the confectioners' sugar. Bake the tart until the meringue is well colored, about 7 minutes.
- Cool the tart on a rack.
- To finish the tart, spoon or pipe the apricot preserves into every other space between the lattice lines of meringue. Fill in the other spaces with the raspberry preserves.