What is frangipane?

Or frangipani as it’s also called. Good question. To put it succinctly, it’s a filling, one that’s frequently flavored with nuts (usually almonds, but also hazelnuts or pistachios) and used in pies, tarts and cakes. It’s egg-based, which puts it in the custard family, though of the “still” (i.e. baked) variety.

That’s as specific a definition as I can come up with, because truth be told, “frangipane” is one of the most varied substances in all of pastrydom. On one end of the texture spectrum, it can be an nut-flavored pastry cream, composed of whipped eggs, sugar, butter and almond or hazelnut paste. But franginpane can get much, much firmer depending on what you add to it. Put in a little flour and swap out the nut paste for actual ground almonds, pistachios or hazelnuts and you get a very batter-like device, one that bakes up more cakey than creamy. Add still more flour and nuts and the result can be a firm tart crust.

In pear tarts, frangipane varies from the very light to the somewhat cakey. It often contains ground almonds and a small amount of flour, though purists prefer no flour at all. I like a little flour, personally, both for the texture and the added insurance it provides against “breaking”.

2 thoughts on “What is frangipane?”

  1. Hi Joe! I know this is an old post, but I have been studying your blog to learn about custards and pie. I live in Brazil and here we have a very different variety of lemon (actually they are limes but we call them lemons) meringue pie that uses condensed milk in the filling and it is not cooked at all, witch got me confused as I saw recipes for the traditional lemon meringue pie using lemon curd finished in the oven. Anyway, that is why I started to study the subject. I have a question about frangipani: in another post (making frangipani) you defined it as “pastry-cream lightened almond cream”, so my question is: then why is it not a “stirred” custard but a “still” one? Thank you so much for this blog.

    1. Hello Antonia!

      That’s a great question. I suppose that in truth it’s a combination of both. The pastry cream is a stirred custard which is added to the almond cream. When the two are baked together they become a “still” custard. Technically.

      I should say that we also have a lot of no-bake cream pies in America. This version is more traditional but also my favorite!

      Nice to know you, thanks for getting in touch. Cheers,

      – Joe

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