Why Every Baker Should Have A Frangipane Recipe In Their Back Pocket

When it comes to sauces, few culinary sects do it quite like the French. The country's cuisine conceptualized the iconic pantheon of French "mother sauces," including béchamel and hollandaise, per Michelin Guide. But, as sauces are to cooking, spreads and fillings are to baking – and French cuisine has the confectionary sphere covered, too. Case in point: the sweet French paste frangipane.

The French frangipane and the Italian marzipan share mostly the same ingredients, but their utilities are chiefly different. Per MasterClass, marzipan is a thick paste used for molding into decorative shapes, or garnishing cakes and sweet breads; its use is similar to that of fondant. frangipane, on the other hand, is nuttier than marzipan's sugary bite, and it's texturally more of a spread. That's why it is commonly used as a filling in pastries or sweet smear across tarts. Julia Child herself used frangipane for a pear and almond tart recipe, per Today.

Frangipane is a key ingredient in the classic British Bakewell Tart, says Great British Chefs. Additionally, it's used in Pithivier, which bears a strong resemblance to another traditional French dessert, Galette de Rois (aka "King Cake"), which is made in honor of the Feast of the Epiphany. Renowned pastry chef Jacques Torres swears by his signature Pithivier recipe, which he has been developing since he was 16 years old, via Wine Spectator. So, what's all the hype about?

A versatile and simple spread

For a paste that has secured such a lasting place in the dessert world (with a decadently fancy name to boot), frangipane is hugely uncomplicated. All it takes is butter, sugar, almond flour, eggs, and vanilla or almond extract, says MasterClass. It only takes around 10 minutes to make and contains basic ingredients you might already have lying around the kitchen. Frangipane doesn't require any complicated techniques either; the ingredients are all combined in a bowl and simply creamed together, by hand or with an electric mixer. The Martha Stewart website compares the process to making cookie dough.

Frangipane is commonly used as a filling in almond croissants, but its uses don't stop there. According to Great British Chefs, frangipane is often paired with sweet fruits for its complementary nuttiness; sugary but not overpowering. Try using it in a fig and raspberry galette recipe. Martha Stewart's site recommends pairing frangipane with stone fruits like apricots, peaches, cherries, and plums. You could even add a liqueur into the mix and serve your infused frangipane with pears. A light bourbon might make a good fit. The almond component can even be replaced with other nuts like pistachios, hazelnuts, or pecans. The only limit to your frangipane is your imagination. (And how long your arm can keep beating that butter and sugar.)