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Our weather is quickly changing. Mornings are becoming crisp, evenings are cooling down. Fall is in the air. Before the summer season comes to a screeching halt, I like to bake a few of my absolute favorites so we can all savor the seasonal flavors one last time.
At the request of someone quite dear to me, I am sharing my classic apricot tart.
There is something so perfectly simple about an apricot tart. The flavors are pure and clean, easily capturing the last tastes of summer. This recipe is quintessential French pastry. I do have to let you in on a little secret though. Sometimes when I make this tart, I just make the crust, add apricots, sprinkle sugar on top and then bake. BEYOND simple. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream for dessert or fresh out of the oven for just about anytime.
Enjoy this tart and share with friends and family, you will be happy you did.
For crust8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled 1/2 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/4 cups, plus1 tablespoon, unbleached all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons finely ground almonds
For filling1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons full-flavored honey (lavender works great, or orange blossom, the choice is yours)
1 tablespoon sifted flour About 1 1/2 pounds fresh apricots, pitted and halved (do not peel)
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Optional: Apricot jam to make a glaze prior to serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom, or 6 individual tart molds. I use tart rings.
Make the pastry:
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 should be thin.
Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the dough is slightly puffy and set, 12 to 15 minutes. To keep the tart from becoming soggy, sprinkle the ground almonds on the bottom of the tart shell.
Make the Filling:
In a medium-size bowl, combine the cream, egg, extracts and honey and whisk to blend. Whisk in the flour.
Pour the filling evenly over the pastry. Starting just inside the edge of the pan, neatly overlap the halved apricots. (I prefer the look of cut side down, but some may like the look of cut side up, this preference is entirely up to you.) Continue placing apricots in a circle until your tart is covered.
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, 50 to 60 minutes. The apricots will shrivel slightly. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with powdered sugar. Place the tart on a rack to cool.
If you would like to glaze your tart, simply warm 1 cup of apricot jam. Using a pastry brush, brush warmed jam over tart. You will achieve a nice shine for your tart, although keep in mind this will add more sweetness.
Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Editor’s note: This a best-of column that was originally published September 23, 2008.
Andrea Charroin was a trained baker and pastry chef in San Francisco before she and her family moved to Redding nine years ago. After falling in love with Redding’s downtown, Andrea and husband Westley opened a little pastry shop, Rene-Joule Patisserie, across from the Cascade Theatre. For the three years Rene-Joule was in business, it was renowned for making everything from scratch, using the best ingredients and keeping with a seasonal menu. To this day, Andrea is asked about her Marathon Bars, Orange Twists and sourdough bread.
Copyright 2008 Andrea R. Charroin.