Category Archives: fruit

Apricot Tart

This is a tart we learned to make in Ivan Day’s Pie Making and Pastry course. Unlike modern recipes, with this one your ingredients are based on how many apricots will fill your tart. It helps to have a scale, but you can manage without one. You do need a nutcracker, though.

A slice of apricot tart

A slice of apricot tart

I used the pâte sablée recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I substituted some almond flour for some of the all-purpose flour and some almond extract for some of the vanilla. Almond is a good complement to apricots, which are related to almonds.

In fact, apricot pits look a lot like almonds, and the seeds, which are edible, smell like almonds when you chop them.

An apricot pit

An apricot pit

Apricot seeds (like almonds) contain amygdalin, which is a precursor to cyanide, but the body quickly processes the amygdalin, so you have to eat a lot of apricot seeds to be in any danger. Bitter almonds contain a lot more amygdalin than apricot seeds do, and you have to eat 4 or 5 dozen of those to incur any risk. I mention this because the recipe calls for using the apricot seeds. I had two slices of the tart last Sunday, and I felt no symptoms of cyanide poisoning.

Apricot Tart
Crust
5 oz all purpose flour
2 oz almond flour
3 Tbl powdered sugar
2½ oz unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 oz (2 Tbl) vegetable shortening
1 egg
½ tsp almond extract
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ice water

Filling
about 3 lb of firm apricots
about 1 lb of sugar, probably more

To make the tart shell:
Fit the food processor with the metal blade. Add the dry ingredients and process to combine. Add the butter and shortening and process until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Add the egg, extracts, and water and process until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds.

Remove the dough from the work bowl and roll it out on a flour-dusted surface. Transfer the dough to an 11-inch tart pan and press it into the bottom and sides. The sugar makes this dough pretty fragile, and you might find it easier to forgo the rolling and just press the dough into the tart pan.

Line the shell with foil and distribute weights over it. Chill the shell in the freezer or refrigerator while you preheat the oven.

Preheat the oven to 375℉. Bake the shell for 15 minutes. Remove the shell from the oven and, lifting the foil by the corners, remove the foil and weights from the shell. Return the shell to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Set the shell aside to cool.

To make the filling:
Buy enough apricots to fill your tart tin. For an 11-inch tin, you’ll need 18 to 20 apricots, about 3 pounds.

3 pounds of apricots

3 pounds of apricots

Cut the apricots in half. Put the prettier half face down on a large plate.

Apricot halves resting on a plate

Apricot halves resting on a plate

Put the less-pretty half in a large nonreactive saucepan. I set my saucepan on my scale. Weigh the apricot halves in the saucepan and weigh out 3/4 of that amount in granulated white sugar. My apricot halves weighed 1 lb 6¾ oz, so:

16 + 6.75 = 22.75
22.75 × 0.75 = 17.0625

or about 17 ounces of sugar.

If you don’t have a scale, you have to know the weight of the apricots. If you bought them at a supermarket, the receipt should give you the weight. If you bought them at the farmer’s market, make sure you remember the weight. (If you picked them from your own tree, you’ll have to guess.) The pits don’t weigh much; my pits weighed 2 oz. Divide the total weight by 2 and then round down to get the weight of the cooked apricots, then multiply that by 0.75.

Set the pits aside. Put the saucepan with the apricots over medium heat and cook them until they start to exude their juice.

Apricots cooking. You don't have to cut them up, but I did a little.

Apricots cooking. You don't have to cut them up, but I did a little.

At that point, pour in the sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves in the apricot juice. Eventually this will be apricot jam, which is part of the tart filling.

Apricots with sugar stirred in

Apricots with sugar stirred in

While the jam is cooking, crack the apricot pits (if you can, several of mine were too hard to crack) and remove the seeds.

Apricot seeds. Some were crushed when the  shell cracked.

Apricot seeds. Some were crushed when the shell cracked.

Chop the seeds and set them aside.

Chopped apricot seeds

Chopped apricot seeds

As you’re working on cracking the pits, keep an eye on the jam and stir it from time to time. The jam will be done in 30 to 60 minutes; mine took about 45 minutes. It’s done when there are no identifiable pieces of fruit (you’ll see pieces of apricot skin, which is fine) and the jam is quite thick and not runny.

Apricot jam done

Apricot jam done

Stir in the chopped apricot seeds and set the jam aside to cool a little.

Jam with chopped seeds stirred in

Jam with chopped seeds stirred in

Preheat the oven to 350℉.

Spread some of the jam over the bottom of the shell. Arrange the remaining apricot halves, cut side down, in the cooled tart shell. Spoon in the rest of the jam, making sure you fill all the spaces.

Assembled and ready to bake

Assembled and ready to bake

Bake the tart for 30 to 40 minutes or until the apricots are tender when you stick a sharp knife in them.

The baked tart

The baked tart

Cool the tart on a rack. When it’s cool enough to handle, remove the tart from the tin. This tart serves 8 to 12 if you’re willing to share.

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Chocolate Pear Tart

I like Clotilde Dusoulier’s blog, Chocolate & Zucchini. I discovered it when I was looking for an oil-based tart crust. Clotilde has a couple of books, too, and I’ve been reading Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris; if I ever get to Paris again, this will be a valuable reference. In the meantime, though, it includes a killer recipe for a chocolate pear tart, and the recipe is not on her blog, so far as I can tell.

A slice of chocolate pear tart

A slice of chocolate pear tart


Clotilde’s recipe calls for a pâte brisée, but I used a pâte sablée because I had the dough in the freezer, and I used a smaller tart pan because the dough would only stretch that far. So to make Clotilde’s tart the way she did, use a 28- to 30-cm (11 to 12 inches) tart shell and cut the pears into 6 pieces (for a total of 12 pieces). This will give you 12 servings (unless my nephew Ed is sharing it). I used a 23-cm (9 inches) tart pan and cut the pears into 4 pieces (for a total of 8).

Clotilde’s Chocolate Pear Tart
(adapted from Tarte-Gâteau Poire Chocolat)
One recipe of pâte brisée or other tart dough of your choice

For the chocolate filling:
3 T (¾ oz) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
pinch of fine sea salt
7 T (3½ oz) butter, cut into small pieces
4½ oz dark chocolate, broken into small pieces (I used Green & Black 72% bittersweet)
½ cup (2 oz) granulated sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg white (Clotilde used a yolk in her crust; I suspect you could use 2 eggs if you wanted)

For the poached pears:
2 Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, or other pears that will hold their shape after poaching (about 1 lb)
2 T granulated white sugar
3 T dark rum (I used Myers’s)
1 cup water

Blind bake the tart shell; I baked mine at 375℉ for 20 minutes, removed the weights, and gave it another 5 minutes. While that’s going on, poach the pears and make the chocolate filling.

Blind-baked pâte sablée tart shell

Blind-baked pâte sablée tart shell


To poach the pears, peel the pears, cut out the stem and blossom, and scoop out the core. Cut the pears into 4 or 6 pieces each. Combine the water, sugar, and rum in a small to medium saucepan and bring the syrup to a simmer. Immerse the pears in the syrup and poach them for 5 minutes or so, until they’re tender but still firm. Drain the pears in a colander.

To make the chocolate filling, melt the chocolate and butter. I mixed the pieces in a microwave-safe bowl and heated them on medium for 30 seconds at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula between times, and it all melted safely after a total of 2 minutes. You can also melt them on the stove over simmering water. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a medium bowl, stir in the melted butter and chocolate, then stir in the flour mixture.

Chocolate custard filling

Chocolate custard filling


To assemble the tart, turn the chocolate mixture into the tart shell, and smooth it as well as you can.
Shell filled with chocolate filling

Shell filled with chocolate filling


Arrange the pears over the filling.
Assembled tart, ready to bake

Assembled tart, ready to bake


Bake the tart at 350℉ for 20 minutes.
After 10 minutes of baking, the filling is beginning to puff.

After 10 minutes of baking, the filling is beginning to puff.


The custard should be a little jiggly in the middle; it will continue cooking after your remove it from the oven.
Done (I think) and cooling

Done (I think) and cooling


When it’s cool enough to handle, remove it from the tart pan and put it on a serving dish. The 23-cm size yields eight servings (or two, if Ed is around). It almost yielded four servings, because Dr. Science thought he’d like a large slice. I asked him to take an eighth and come back for seconds, so I could get a photo. About halfway through that slice, he decided he’d come back for seconds in a few hours. It’s very rich.

This tart pan is a little deeper than my 30-cm one, and the filling was still somewhat creamy, so possibly I should’ve given it a few more minutes, or possibly it needed to cool a little longer. Of course, possibly this is how it’s supposed to be. Clotilde describes the filling as fudgy and cake-y. I figured it would be like the filling in those plum (or pluot) tarts I was making this summer, but those weren’t really creamy when they were baked. I do like this texture, though. And boy, is this tart delicious.

Reference
Clotilde Dusoulier, Tarte-Gâteau Poire Chocolat, in Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris. New York: Broadway Books, 2008, p. 192.

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Plum Torte

It’s time to use up the rest of the prune plums, so today I’m making another Marian Burros classic, Original Plum Torte. (Is it only original if Marian Burros makes it? If I make it, is it Counterfeit Plum Torte? I’m following the recipe exactly.)

Plum torte

Plum torte


This is pretty straightforward. The one trick is to figure out how many plums to use. Marian specifically says “24 halves” (so 12 plums), but she’s also using regular plums, not the small prune plums, which I’m using. I knew I’d need more, so I just halved them and placed them on the batter as I went, and I used 18, as it turns out.

Marian Burros’s Original Plum Torte
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ cup white sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour (I used 4½ oz)
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch of salt
2 eggs
12 purple plums, halved and pitted
granulated sugar and ground cinnamon to sprinkle on the top
A spring form pan (8, 9, or 10 inches; mine is 24 cm or 9 in)

Note: Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. If you add a cold ingredient to the creamed butter and sugar, the emulsion will break.

Preheat the oven to 350℉.

In a stand mixer fitted with the flat paddle, cream the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. While that’s going on, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Dump the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl with the butter and sugar and beat that on the second speed for a couple of minutes, scrape down the bowl, and mix again briefly; this mixture is crumbly. Add the eggs and beat until the mixture is homogeneous. This is a stiff batter.

Turn the batter into the springform pan and spread it out evenly.

Spreading the batter in the pan

Spreading the batter in the pan


Arrange the plum halves, cut side down, on the batter.
36 plum halves on the cake batter

36 plum halves on the cake batter


Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over everything. Marian recommends 1 tsp of cinnamon “or to taste.” I just sprinkled. We’ll see how much “to taste” is when we’ve tasted the torte.
Sugar and cinnamon sprinkled over the plums

Sugar and cinnamon sprinkled over the plums


Bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes.
About 20 into the baking

About 20 into the baking


Marian just says to remove the torte from the pan, but I let the torte cool in the pan for 10 minutes
Torte cooling in the pan

Torte cooling in the pan


then I unmolded it and slid it onto a plate.
The plated torte

The plated torte


Marian doesn’t say to grease the pan, so I didn’t, but maybe it should’ve. The torte didn’t exactly stick, but I had to loosen it with a knife and a metal spatula.

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Prune Plum Crumble

Say that 10 times fast.

Marian Burros's prune plum crumble

Marian Burros's prune plum crumble

This is a wildly popular recipe by Marian Burros. Apparently it was first published years ago and the demand is so great that the New York Times publishes it every year. I’ve only just heard of it. I have about 2 lb of prune plums and no idea what to do with them. This recipe doesn’t use all 2 lb, but it makes a dent in them. I followed the recipe exactly as written, weighing the ingredients as I went. I’m reproducing the ingredients list here with the weights of the ingredients.

Marian Burros’s Prune Plum Crumble
For the plum filling
12 purple Italian or prune plums, cut in half and pitted (about 12 oz; I needed 14))
2 T (1 oz) brown sugar
1½ T (½ oz) all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
2 heaping T ( 1½ oz) finely chopped candied ginger

For the topping
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour (I used 4½ oz)
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt (½ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt)
1 egg, well beaten
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375℉. Get out a 9-inch pie plate.

To make the filling, whisk together the dry ingredients. Halve and pit the plums.

The filling mixture and some plums

The filling mixture and some plums

Toss the plums with the filling mixture. Prune plums aren’t juicy, so a lot of this mixture didn’t stick to the plums. I sprinkled about half over the bottom of the pie plate. Arrange the plums cut side down (or skin side up, if you prefer) in the pie plate.

Twelve plums but not quite enough

Twelve plums, but not quite enough

Twelve plums wasn’t enough, so I added two more. Then I sprinkled the rest of the filling mixture over the plums.

The plum filling

The plum filling

For the topping, I cut up a stick of butter into a glass measuring cup and heated that in the microwave oven on high for 30 seconds. When I was ready to put the topping on the fruit, I stirred the butter and gave it another 30 seconds. When I was ready for it, it was completely melted.

To make the topping, whisk together the dry ingredients. Beat the egg well and pour it over the topping mixture. Marian wants you to mix this with your hands, so that’s what I did.

Working the egg into the topping

Working the egg into the topping

Work the egg in until the topping is granular.

Topping ready to go

Topping ready to go

Distribute the mixture over the fruit,

Plum crumble topped

Plum crumble topped

then drizzle the melted butter over the topping.

Plum crumble buttered

Plum crumble buttered

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Plum crumble out of the oven

Plum crumble out of the oven

Allow to cool for 1 hour. Serve warm. It’s delicious. I can see why the Times has to reprint it every year.

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Pluot Tart

The Market Basket has several varieties of pluots:

Four varieties of pluots

Four varieties of pluots

Pluots are hybrids of plums and apricots. I like the different colors. They’re smooth like plums but a little sweeter.

Pluots: the crumb view

Pluots: the crumb view

I thought it would be fun to use these in the Santa Rosa Plum Tart, which I’ve figured out is a tart made with Santa Rosa plums, not a plum tart that has something to do with Santa Rosa. Now that I’ve realized the slices of fruit are supposed to stick up through the custard, I cut the pluots into 8 slices each. These are a lot bigger than the little plums I got at the farmers market, so no problem there.

Pluots on the tart shell

Pluots on the tart shell

I was out of heavy cream, but the recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons, so I threw caution to the wind and used sour cream instead, which worked fine.

Tart filled with custard and ready to bake

Tart filled with custard and ready to bake

And here it is done:

Pluot tart

Pluot tart

The baked fruit tastes like peaches more than anything. Alice Waters says you can use raspberries, but I’m thinking this would be good with any fruit that’s a little tart.

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Santa Rosa Plum Tart

I saw these very pretty little plums at the farmers market, and I just had to have them:

Purple plums and yellow plums

Purple plums and yellow plums

I knew I’d make a plum tart with them, but I didn’t have a recipe in mind, so I searched the Internet. I probably should’ve looked in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Next time. Anyway, when I hit this recipe on The Italian Dish, I decided that was my plum tart. The Somerville Public Library, which is right down the street, had Chez Panisse Fruit in the stacks, so I strolled down and checked it out. You have to look at the photo on the Italian Dish blog because there are no photos in the Chez Panisse book. You also have to look at Elaine’s photos because my tart doesn’t look like hers, and I suspect hers looks right.

Santa Rosa Plum Tart with invisible plums

Santa Rosa Plum Tart with invisible plums

One big difference is that my plums are small, and I think I probably cut the slices too small, too. For plums like these, which are the size of golf balls, maybe they should be cut into quarters; then the fruit would’ve stuck up through the custard. Once the tart is cut, though, you can see them.

Look! Plums!

Look! Plums!

It’s quite tasty. The custard is sweet and the plums are sweet and tart, and the textures are complementary.

A serving of plum tart

A serving of plum tart

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Gooseberry Crumble

I’d never heard of gooseberry crumble until my friend Michele mentioned it. I didn’t actually know what gooseberries were, either. But because I’d seen Michele’s photos, I knew what I was looking at when I saw them at the Copley Square farmers market. I got two boxes, which were 8 oz each:

A pound of gooseberries

A pound of gooseberries

Michele has been talking about gooseberry crumble, but you can make other things, such as pie. Unfortunately, 1 lb of gooseberries isn’t enough for pie. I looked for a recipe for crumble, but a lot of them called for things I don’t have, like self-raising flour (why do the English love that?), elderflower cordial, and 2 lbs of gooseberries. I chose this one because it uses plain flour, gives amounts by weight, and calls for 1 lb of gooseberries. It doesn’t say how large the baking dish should be, so I used a 9″ x 9″ glass one. The berries fit into that comfortably in one layer:

A pound of gooseberries in a 9" x 9" baking dish

A pound of gooseberries in a 9" x 9" baking dish

The topping went on top of that:

Gooseberries covered with crumble

Gooseberries covered with crumble

And the whole thing baked for 35 minutes, the result of which was:

Gooseberry crumble

Gooseberry crumble

Two small servings, upside down and right side up

Two small servings, upside down and right side up

This is pretty tasty. I think the crumble-to-fruit ratio isn’t right, though. There’s a lot of crumble for this amount of fruit. I think this much crumble needs twice as much fruit; alternatively, I’d use the pound of fruit, put that in a smaller dish so it made two layers, and top it with half the amount of crumble.

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