I am so excited for the arrival of summer and fresh local fruits and veggies. Farmers markets come a bit later to New England, due to the cold weather that often stretches into May. But finally the farmers markets are up and running, with things like these beautiful local strawberries.
(I really wish Smell-o-vision existed and you could smell these. They remind me of summer, and picking strawberries as a kid and ending up with dirty knees and berry-stained fingers).
Because these are too good to do anything but eat, straight out of their little pint container, I went to my produce man and bought these today:
And decided to make a tart with them. But what kind of tart? Oh, the choices. First, I thought about a crostata. Rustic, satisfying, nothing but luscious fruit. But no, I wanted something with a bit more structure. And I remembered (or so I thought) the Barefoot Contessa making some kind of almond apricot tart. Yet try as I might - looking in cookbooks AND online - I could not find such a recipe from my idol Ina. So I turned to epicurious.com, where I found a passable recipe, but no, still not quite right. On to foodtv.com where I found this, which I co-opted. But what about the crust, you ask? This time, I flipped open Mark Bittman's always reliable How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for his delicious sweet tart crust. And as this blind-baked, my kitchen filled with the most wonderful buttery-rich smells that I was tempted to forget the apricots and the frangipane and eat the crust on its own. But I refrained, and ended up with one of the most delightful, satisfying desserts I have ever made. The slight sweetness of the cookie-like crust pair perfectly with the almondy filling and the nice, tart apricots. I think the frangipane would also work nicely with raspberries, if you wanted to mix things up a bit!
Sweet Tart Crust
from Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
makes enough for one 8- to 10- inch tart
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
10 tbsp frozen or cold butter, cut into chunks
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp ice water, plus more if necessary
1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse once or twice. (note: you could do this by hand, of course. The food processor just makes things infinitely easier and speeds up the process!) Add the butter all at once; process until mixture is uniform, about 10 seconds (do not overprocess). Add the egg and process for another few seconds.
2. Put the mixture in a bowl and add the ice water; mix with your hands until the dough forms into a ball, adding another tablespoon or two if necessary (if you overdo it and the mixture is too wet, add a bit more flour). Form into a ball, wrap in plastic, and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Sprinkle a countertop with flour and put the dough on it; sprinkle the top of the dough with a little flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large circle, to a diameter about 2 inches larger than that of your tart pan. Move the dough into the tart pan by draping it over the rolling pin and moving into the pan. Press the dough into the nooks and crannies of your tart pan, being careful not to overwork it. Use a knife to trim any excess dough at the rim of the pan. Refrigerate for about an hour before filling.
4. For this recipe, you will blind-bake the tart. What this means is baking an empty tart shell. First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Make sure your crust is pressed firmly into the tart pan, and throughly pricked with a fork. This will help the crust retain its safe and will help prevent bubbling. Butter one side a piece of foil large enough to cover the crust; press the foil onto the crust, butter side down. Weight the foil with a pile of dried beans or rice. Bake for 12 minutes, remove from oven, turn the temperature down to 350 degrees and continue baking until the crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool before filling.
from Gale Gand
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. To make the frangipane, place the almonds and the sugar in a food processor and grind until sandy. Add the butter and continue mixing then add the egg, vanilla, and the flour and mix until smooth.
3. Spread the almond frangipane in the prebaked tart shell (see above). Firmly place the apricot halves into the frangipane spacing them evenly around the tart. Dot the spaces between the apricots with the whole almonds.
4. Bake until golden brown on the top and puffy, about 30 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.