I am a chocolate girl at heart. It is a very rare day in my life that goes by without consuming any chocolate – even just a little bite will do. When the snacks delivery man comes to work every Wednesday and drops of Hershey’s fun size dark chocolate bars and peanut M&M’s… you can bet I stock up for those days in between when he won’t be around! And for much of the year I find ways to work chocolate into as many of my recipes as I can. After all, there’s little better than a warm chocolate chip cookie oozing with melted chocolate chips… or a plate of fresh, chewy brownies, or a bowl of chocolate buttercream icing sitting ready to adorn a cake. It’s a small obsession, really, but not the worst one I could have right?!
Well in the summertime, I still love chocolate, I still eat it (nearly) every day, I still think about it all the time, but when I get into the kitchen to bake chocolate has no place in my recipes. The summer is all about berries and peaches and plums and apricots and bright, fruity, zesty flavors. This recipe is just one of the many seasonal creations from this summer that showcases the produce and really wows your palate. We had dinner guests over the night I made this – only two of them, plus my family of 4, and it was gone that evening long before they left.
I have a love for fruit tarts – the kind with a traditional pate sucree, filled with luscious pastry cream and piled high with fresh fruit, but they are more than a little messy and not so easy to eat. Since we were having guests my Mom requested a baked fruit tart, which I haven’t really made before but was eager to try. I came across this recipe on one of the many blogs I read, but followed it’s roots back to Epicurious, which is where I got the recipe I used.
I made a few changes (because I can’t ever keep from adding my own spin), so the Apricot Tart became an Apricot-Cherry-Peach creation, but I think the combination of flavors really added a lot and made it more dynamic and fun, and quite colorful. I made it towards the end of the day, so the photos won’t do it’s beauty or flavor justice, so you’ll just have to use your imagination for this one. Think fresh fruit baked into a velvety vanilla custard, slightly reminiscent of creme brulee but less creamy and more firm. Sooo good.
P.S. Please Note: I did not give proper credit to Kevin in my last post on Peach Cobbler… truth be told it was HIS idea to use peaches instead of blueberries… so here’s to his sheer genius! I always knew I picked a good one
Stone Fruit Tart
8 tablespoons (4 ounces; 12 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (originally the recipe is 1/2 tsp almond and vanilla each, but I’m not a fan of almond so I used all vanilla)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon (180 g) unbleached all-purpose flour (I used wheat pastry flour)
2 tablespoons finely ground unblanched almonds
1/2 cup (25 cl) crème fraîche or heavy cream (I used heavy cream)
1 large egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (called for 1/2 almond, 1/2 vanilla but I used all vanilla)
2 tablespoons full-flavored honey, such as lavender
1 tablespoon superfine flour, such as Wondra (I used wheat pastry flour)
About 1 1/2 pounds (750 g) fresh stone fruit, pitted and halved – do not peel! (I used apricots, peaches AND cherries)
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (23cm) fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Set aside.
2) In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and the sugar, and using a wooden spoon, stir to blend. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to form a soft, cookie-like dough. Transfer the dough to the center of the buttered pan. Using the tips of your fingers, evenly press the pastry along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. The pastry will be quite thin.
3) Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake unitl the dough is slightly puffy and set, 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle the ground almonds over the bottom of the crust. (This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.)
4) In a medium-size bowl, combine the crème fraîche, egg, extracts and honey and whisk to blend. Whisk in the flour.
5) Pour the filling evenly over the pastry. Starting just inside the edge of the pan, neatly overlap the halved apricots, cut side up, at an angle. Arrange in two or three concentric circles, working toward the center. Fill in the center with the remaining apricots.
6) Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake until the filling is firm and the pastry is a deep golden brown, 55 to 60 minutes. The apricots will shrivel slightly. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar. Place the tart on a rack to cool. Sprinkle again with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.