Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sweet Tooth Saturday – Pasta Frola

Pasta Frola 1
Cesar’s family is from Argentina.  His parents were both born and raised there, and while he and his siblings were all born in the U.S., they lived in Argentina for much of his childhood.  One of the biggest perks of marrying him, aside from gaining a second family whom I adore, has been the discovery of Argentinean food.  While there are definitely aspects of their cuisine that I question (is it really necessary to devote an entire aisle of the grocery store to various flavors of mayonnaise??)), there are so many things to love.  Milanesa, chimichurri, empanandas, flan, and dulce de leche are all things that have become favorites of mine, but I think my ultimate foodie find has to be dulce de membrillo.  Dulce de membrillo, or quince paste, is sweet and just a tiny bit tart, and it can be used in desserts or served with cheese and bread. 
Pasta frola is a traditional Argentinean dessert.  It consists of a shortbread-like crust, a layer of dulce de membrillo, and finally another layer of crust. Cesar’s mom makes a delicious version, but since I didn’t want mine to be in direct competition with the pasta frola she makes so well, I went in search of a new recipe.  When I came across a recipe on From Argentina with Love that uses another one of my favorite foods, almond flour, I suspected I had found a winner.  I wasn’t wrong; the crust is rich and tender and tastes almost exactly like the butter cookies that are so common at Christmas.
Pasta Frola
Very minimally adapted from this recipe
Shortbread Crust
1 cup almond flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk

Quince Filling
About 12 oz of quince paste**
About 1/4 of water
1/2 tbsp of lemon juice

Shortbread Crust Instructions
In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour, flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and beat for one minute more.
On low speed, add the flour mixture in all at once and beat until combined. Divide the dough in half. Press the first half of the dough into an even layer into a 9-inch tart ring or springform pan. Press the edges up about 3/4 of an inch. Roll out the other half on a lightly floured baking sheet lined with parchment paper, into a 13-inch round. Place both in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.

Filling Instructions
Heat the quince paste in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, and whisk. The goal is to make the paste a spreadable jelly-like consistency without making it watery. It may be necessary to heat for an additional 20 seconds to fully incorporate the water into the paste. Stir until incorporated. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the pasta frola.

Assembly Instructions
Spread the quince paste evenly on the chilled dough in the tart ring. Using a fluted pastry wheel or a knife, cut the chilled round of dough into strips about 1-inch wide. The dough will puff up a bit in the oven, so you don’t want to make the strips too wide or place them too close together (like I did on mine). Arrange the strips across the round tart in a lattice pattern. Freeze for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake for 40 minutes; the crust should be a nice golden brown. Let cool completely before removing the tart ring and cutting.

**Dulce de membrillo can be hard to find.  If you live in Tampa, La Loma Market at 3224 N Armenia Ave carries it as well as a number of other imported Argentinean goods.  And if you’re a fan of Argentinean cuisine, be sure to check out Renzo’s on Kennedy Boulevard.  It’s one of our favorites!

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