Farmers' Market Desserts by Jennie Schacht Paperback, 208 pages Chronicle Books List price: $24.95
Makes 8 to 10 servings
I created this tart crust when I ran out of flour after starting to make the dough for a Thanksgiving apple tart. Crossing my fingers, I substituted almond meal for half of the flour. It was a big hit. When I ran out of almond meal the next time I made it, I substituted cornmeal for part of the almond meal. Now it's just right. This tart has a distinct almond flavor from the almond paste, which balances perfectly with the Apriums.
Season to Taste: If Apriums aren't available, substitute apricots. Whether apricot or Aprium, the fruit should be ripe but not squishy soft. This tart also adapts well to other fruits, such as plums, pears (peeled, cored, and placed cut side down on the filling), or thinly sliced tart apples, such as Gravensteins.
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 2/3 cup almond meal 1/3 cup fine stone-ground yellow cornmeal 3 tablespoons granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 8 pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (5 ounces) almond paste 2 large eggs 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 pounds Apriums (about 25 small to medium), halved and pitted 1/3 cup apricot jam, melted over low heat, or 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for glazing
1. To make the crust, put the flour, almond meal, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Scatter the butter over the top and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add the egg and process just until the dough begins to clump around the blade.
2. Transfer the dough to a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, breaking it into pieces and distributing it evenly around the pan. Using your hands or the bottom of a water glass dipped in flour, press the dough to cover the bottom and sides evenly. Place the pan on a rimless baking sheet, loosely cover with plastic film, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, with a rack in the upper third.
4. To make the filling, crumble the almond paste into the food processor and process until it is the texture of sand. (If the almond paste is hard, chop or coarsely grate it first.) Add the eggs, vanilla, and salt and process until smooth. Add the butter and process just until smooth, stopping and scraping down the bowl of the processor as needed. Add the flour and pulse just until combined.
5. Spread the almond filling over the bottom of the pastry. Stand the Aprium halves, cut-side up, on the filling, leaning one against the next in overlapping, concentric circles, like a fallen stack of dominoes. (If the Apriums are 2 inches or larger, cut them into quarters and place them cut side down on the filling.)
6. Bake for 35 minutes, then remove from the oven and raise the heat to 400 degrees F. Brush the Apriums with the melted jam. Alternatively, sprinkle the granulated sugar evenly over the fruit, taking care to avoid the pastry. Return the tart to the oven and bake until the Apriums are glazed and tinged with brown in spots, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes.
7. Center the cooled tart on a glass or small bowl to allow the outer ring to fall away. Transfer the tart, still on the pan base, to a serving plate. Alternatively, use a large metal spatula or rimless baking sheet to slide the tart from its base onto the plate. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
8. Refrigerate leftover tart, tightly covered, for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Farm Journal: Apriums, an apricot-plum hybrid, are meatier than plums and juicier and sweeter than most apricots, with more complex flavor. The Honey Rich variety is worth seeking out for its big flavor. Flavor Delight and Tasty Rich are also good choices.
Almond meal, sometimes called almond flour, is made by finely grinding raw, usually blanched almonds. Bob's Red Mill brand almond meal is widely distributed in supermarkets and is often available in health food stores and at Trader Joe's locations. You can make your own almond meal by processing blanched almonds in a food processor, watching carefully to avoid making almond butter. (Freezing the almonds before grinding helps protect against this happening.)
Almond paste is made by sweetening finely ground almonds. It is available in 7-ounce tubes in the baking section of most supermarkets, or in bulk in upscale groceries and baking supply shops. It contains more almonds and less sugar than marzipan.
Excerpted from Farmers' Market Desserts by Jennie Schacht. Copyright 2010. Reprinted by permission of Chronicle Books.