Category Archives: tart

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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Happy Tau Day!

Today, 6-28, is Tau Day. Who knew? Tau is like pi: Pi (π) is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter; tau (τ) is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its radius. The radius is half the diameter, and τ has only half as many legs as π. Pi, briefly, is 3.14; Pi(e) Day is celebrated on March 14 with pie. Tau, briefly, is 6.28, so I thought I’d celebrate with a τarτ.

Coincidentally, yesterday in the Serious Eats newsletter there was a slideshow about spices to use with fruit. Apparently, aji panca is just the thing to perk up blueberries. Aji panca is a chili pepper, and I find chili peppers painful to eat. However, you can temper the heat with dairy, so my Tau Day tart is blueberry custard tart with aji panca.

Aji panca, if you can find it, is available as fruit, paste, and powder. I got aji panca powder at Christina’s in Inman Square. They had a good-sized jar for $3.27. You can find aji panca in stores that carry Peruvian groceries, and Amazon has it in all three forms.

A jar of aji panca powder from Christina's

A jar of aji panca powder from Christina's

Blueberry Custard Tart with Aji Panca
Pâte Sucrée Crust
7 oz all-purpose flour (about 1½ cups by the spoon-and-sweep method)
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1 oz (2 Tablespoons) cold vegetable shortening
2½ oz (4 Tablespoons) cold butter cut into chunks
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cold water

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, and baking powder to combine. Add the shortening and butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the egg, vanilla, and water, and pulse until the dough comes together into a ball.

Roll out the dough and fit it into a 10-inch tart pan. (You could also use a 9-inch pie plate.) Put the tart shell in the freezer (or refrigerator) until you’re ready to fill it.

Preheat the oven to 375℉.

Blueberry Custard Filling
⅔ cup sugar
½ teaspoons aji panca powder
2 eggs
8 oz (1 cup) whole milk
1 pint (maybe a little more) fresh blueberries (1½ to 2 pints if you’re using a 9-inch pie plate)

Whisk together the sugar and aji panca powder.

Sugar and aji panca powder (not whisked together)

Sugar and aji panca powder (not whisked together)

Whisk in the eggs.

Eggs whisked in

Eggs whisked in

Whisk in the milk.

Milk whisked in

Milk whisked in

Distribute the berries over the tart shell.

Blueberries distributed in the tart shell

Blueberries distributed in the tart shell

That 1 pint didn’t quite cover the shell, so I added more from a second pint. (You don’t need to cover the shell, though.) Pour the custard over the berries.

Custard added

Custard added

Bake at 375℉ for 15 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 325℉ and continue baking until the custard is set but still jiggles in the center, about another 45 minutes.

Cool the tart on a rack.

Tart cooling on a rack

Tart cooling on a rack

Remove the tart from the pan. Serve and enjoy.

A slice of tart

A slice of tart

I found the aji panca gave the tart a little nip, the way cinnamon does when you use the right amount, without tasting like hot pepper. Possibly it could take 1 teaspoon because the milk takes the edge off the pepper. It would be interesting to see how it works (instead of cinnamon) in a regular blueberry pie.

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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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Tarte aux Quetsches et Crème de Noix

Yes, it’s another plum tart! Okay, actually it’s another pluot tart. I’ve always been kind of ambivalent about plums, but I’m enjoying the pluots. I might like plums in a baked dessert, though, and I couldn’t resist getting a couple pounds of prune plums yesterday to play with next. But first, I wanted to try Clothilde‘s plum tart with nut cream.

A slice of pluot tart with almond cream

A slice of pluot tart with almond cream


Once again, I’m not quite following the recipe, but fortunately Clothilde allows options. Here’s what I did.

Pluot Tart with Almond Cream
1 recipe pâte sablée from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
1 egg
2 T sugar
3 T sour cream
1 tsp kirsch
135 g almond meal
2 lb pluots

Spread the pâte sablée in a 9-inch tart pan. Weight the dough and let it chill in the freezer while the oven preheats to 375℉. Bake the shell for 20 minutes, remove the weights, and bake the shell for another 5 minutes or so until it’s just beginning to brown. Turn down the oven to 350℉. Set the shell on a rack to cool.

While the shell is cooling, beat the egg with a wire whip, then beat in the sugar. Beat in the sour cream and kirsch. Stir in the almond meal. Set the almond cream aside. Cut the pluots into quarters. (Clothilde cut her plums in half, but I couldn’t get the pluot halves off their stones, so I had to cut them into quarters.)

Remove the tart shell from the pan and put it on a baking sheet. Spoon the almond cream into the shell and smooth it all over the bottom and up the sides.

Tart shell with almond cream

Tart shell with almond cream


Arrange the pluot slices cut-side up over the almond cream.
Tart ready for the oven

Tart ready for the oven


Bake the tart for 30 minutes.
The baked tart

The baked tart


Let the tart cool for another 30 minutes or so, then dig in. Store the leftovers, if any, in the refrigerator.

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Rhubarb Galette

I wanted to do something different for dessert, and I wanted to use fresh fruit, so I looked in the Chez Panisse Fruit book. The rhubarb galette looked just different enough. One thing that’s different is the crust: You roll out the dough and then put the fillings on it and fold the edges up over the fillings. Another thing that’s different is how the rhubarb is cut: into sticks 3″ x ¼” rather than slices.

I didn’t use the Galette Crust from the cookbook; I used Julia’s pâte sucrée. I rolled that out and stuck it in the fridge to chill while I cut up the fruit and preheated the oven. Pâte sucrée is short crust with some sugar added. The sugar makes the dough harder to handle. Pie dough without sugar is easy to handle because it’s pretty elastic. Adding sugar makes the dough more fragile, so if you pick it up to turn it, it tears easily. This is something I need to use more so I can get some practice with it.

I’ve never cut rhubarb in sticks before, and it was a lot of work, but I like the result. I’m probably holding my knife wrong because I’m going to develop a callus on my forefinger. Or maybe it’s the knife. Anyway, I put a Silpat on a half sheet pan, laid the circle of dough on the Silpat, sprinkled on the almond powder, and arranged the rhubarb over that.

Dough, pulverized almonds, and rhubarb

Dough, pulverized almonds, and rhubarb

I used Instant ClearJel instead of flour because I’ve found that with rhubarb (and peaches), any other thickener (cornstarch, flour) stays powdery and tastes starchy, but the ClearJel thickens the liquid and stays clear. I’ve found a little goes a long way; I used 1 T for this with the ¾ cup of sugar.

Alice wants you to “arrange the top layer of rhubarb in a whimsical pattern.” I have no idea what that means, and the only illustrations in the book are line drawings of fruit. I don’t know if my arrangement is whimsical, but it’s pretty random, and that’ll have to do.

Once the rhubarb is arranged, whimsically or not, you fold the dough up to hold in the fruit. That was okay. I’ve never done this before, but I’ve seen good photos, so I felt I had some idea of what I was supposed to do. Alice wants you to brush the dough with butter and sprinkle on some sugar. it occurred to me that this might be a good opportunity to try out the Swedish pearl sugar I got at the KAF shop when I was there for the Ciril Hitz class.

Rhubarb galette folded, decorated, and ready for the oven

Rhubarb galette folded, decorated, and ready for the oven

That pearl sugar looks a lot like the salt on a soft pretzel, and I have an idea that it would be amusing (and possibly whimsical) to make chocolate cookies in a pretzel shape and use this sugar on them.

The galette bakes for 45 minutes, during which the rhubarb softens and the whole thing flattens a bit.

Baked rhubarb galette

Baked rhubarb galette

Here it is in another view:

Another view of the baked galette

Another view of the baked galette

Now that I see the thing baked, I think I understand that I’m supposed to arrange the top layer of rhubarb in a visually pleasing way, and if I think about it, I’ll be able to come up with something for the next time. This is very tasty, and I can see making it again.

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Cucumber Ricotta Tart with Lemon Glaze

Over at Patent and the Pantry, Gwendolyn hasn’t been cooking and blogging; she’s been traveling and eating. The other day she blogged about that. One of her adventures was afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel in New York. When I saw this photo, I misinterpreted it as a slice of cucumber tart. Clearly I have tart on the brain; it’s a cucumber sandwich.

However, having tart on the brain, I’ve been thinking about what that would be if it were a tart. Misremembering what the photo showed, I thought of round slices of cucumber in a round tart. Looking at the photo again, I can see a better approximation would be lengthwise slices of cucumber in a square tart. However, I have no intention of slicing cucumbers thinly lengthwise; for one thing, I just don’t have the knife skills. As the tart took shape in my mind, it became a pâte brisée with a ricotta custard topped with thin round slices of cucumber and decorated with very thin slices of radish, the whole thing brushed with a lemon glaze.

Most of it was pretty easy to figure out, but the lemon glaze had me stumped for a bit. Lemon glaze is sugar and lemon juice for cake, right? But what I wanted was a kind of lemon gelatin glaze. Well, there’s nothing new under the sun: Lemon gelatin glaze makes a good coating for fish that you’re going to freeze. That glaze looked like just what I had in mind.

The first one is always an experiment, and this is the first time I’ve done this, and I’m making it up, so it’s definitely an experiment. This is how I did it today. I’m going to try it again, but with some changes.

Cucumber Ricotta Tart with Lemon Glaze
(makes a 10- to 11-inch tart)

Tart Shell (pâte brisée)
7 oz all-purpose flour
½ tsp table salt or 1 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1/8 tsp sugar
4 oz butter (1 stick)
1½ oz shortening (3 T)
2½ to 3 T ice water

Whisk the dry ingredients together, cut in the fat, and stir in the ice water until the pastry forms lumps. Alternatively, using the food processor, combine the dry ingredients, add the fat and pulse until the fat is in pea-sized lumps, then add the water in a slow stream until the pastry forms lumps. Press the dough into a disk.

Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. Roll out the dough, fit it into a 10- or 11-inch tart pan, line the pastry with foil and pie weights, and chill it in the freezer while the oven preheats.

Preheat the oven to 375℉ and bake the shell for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and bake the shell for another 5 to 7 minutes.

Prebaked tart shell

Prebaked tart shell

Cool the shell, then remove it from the tart pan and place it on a baking sheet. Brush the inside of the tart shell with a little beaten egg.

Tart Filling
1½ teaspoons dried dill or 1½ T fresh dill
ricotta custard (recipe follows)
lemon glaze (recipe follows)
8 oz cucumber, sliced thin (~1/8 inch) (the whole cucumber should be 10 oz or more)
Radishes sliced very thin (~1/16 inch) (I used 4 to get enough nice slices, but 1 or 2 should be enough if your knife skills are better than mine)

Sprinkle the dill over the baked tart crust.

Tart shell sprinkled with dried dill

Tart shell sprinkled with dried dill

Make the custard.

Ricotta Custard
8 ounces ricotta
1 large egg, beaten
4½ oz (½ cup) sour cream
4½ oz (½ cup) whole milk yogurt
salt and white pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients to a homogeneous mixture.

Ricotta custard

Ricotta custard

Pour the ricotta custard into the crust.

Tart shell filled with ricotta custard

Tart shell filled with ricotta custard

Bake at 400℉ for 20 minutes, until the custard is set but still white. (Those spots are dill that floated up from the bottom.)

Baked custard, puffed and set

Baked custard, puffed and set

While the tart is baking, make the glaze.

Lemon Glaze
¼ cup lemon juice
1¾ cups water
1 package powdered unflavored gelatin

Dissolve the unflavored gelatin in ½ cup of the lemon juice–water mixture.

Gelatin dissolving in lemon juice

Gelatin dissolving in lemon juice

Heat the rest of the liquid to boiling. Stir the gelatin mixture into the boiling liquid. Set aside to cool.

While the tart cools, slice the cucumber and radishes. I used the food processor to slice the cucumber, but now I think just doing it by hand would be easy enough.

Cucumber slices in the work powl; radishes awaiting the knife

Cucumber slices in the work powl; radishes awaiting the knife

Slice the radishes thinly; they should be translucent:

Radish slices, some more successful than others

Radish slices, some more successful than others

Arrange the cucumber slices in concentric overlapping circles, working from the outside in.

Cucumber slices arranged on the tart

Cucumber slices arranged on the tart

Brush the cucumber with the lemon glaze. Arrange the radish slices decoratively over the cucumbers and brush the lemon glaze over the radishes.

The complete tart

The complete tart

Two servings of tart

Two servings of tart

We could taste the dill, but I think a dill pesto would be nicer, and that would discourage the dill from floating up through the custard. The cucumbers are pretty wet, and next time I’ll salt them and let them drain to dry them out a bit. The lemon glaze was very thin, and I want it to be thicker, so next time I’ll use only 1 cup of water in the glaze and see if that does it. I also think the tart and the glaze should be good and cold before I brush the glaze on, and it might need two coats of glaze to get a real shine.

Reference

National Center for Home Food Preservation: Freezing fish: Lemon gelatin glaze. Available at http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/freeze/fish.html (accessed August 22, 2010).

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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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