Sunday, August 1, 2010

Plum almond tart... or Jackie's pick me up cure

When I'm feeling down there's one thing I love to do the most: bake. (Well, that and stuff my face while watching TV, but at least baking burns off some of the calories I'll be consuming later...) And if I can share my baking with someone else, then hot damn, that's even better!

So what better way to help me through a little funk than to make a plum almond tart for my friend and her husband (who were crashing with me Friday night)?


A few weeks ago I had an utterly failed attempt at a cherry almond tart (from a reputable blog at that) so normally I'd be a bit apprehensive trying out another recipe so soon. But I'd had this tart before and knew it was absolutely delicious. Imagine buttery, marzipany, fruity deliciousness and you can imagine this tart.


The recipe I'm using is from my friend Kathy, a lady in my cake club. People sometimes bring in food to share at our meetings and when Kathy brought in this dessert I immediately harassed her for the recipe. (And re-harassed her last week...) The crust, the filling, the fruit... it was just all sooo delicious. And vegan at that!  I made the full dairy recipe because I freaking love butter, but I can guarantee that the vegan version is delicious as well.

The crust is one of the easiest doughs I've made and is super delicious. Lightly flaky, buttery and the perfect thickness for the tart.

The marzipany filling (frangipane) was my favorite part. It seriously tastes like a softened version of marzipan! In full disclosure, my friends though that the amount of frangipane was perfect, but I could have used a little more of the marzipan kick... So if you're a giant marzipan fan, you may want to consider upping the amount of the frangipane (maybe 1.5 times what's written?). It's definitely a very sweet filling, so if you increase the frangipane you could play around with slightly less sugar if you're up for a little experiment.

Three layers of deliciousness: crust, frangipane and fruit

The fruit I used were these teeny little plums that someone brought into the museum one day. The second I spotted the giant bag of plums my brain froze and started yelling "PLUM TART! PLUM TART!" (I'm lucky that people can't always see/hear what I'm thinking...) But this tart would work well with any stone fruit. Apricots, pears, cherries, nectarines- anything really!


Buen Provecho,
Jackie

Almond Plum Tart

Note: If you'd like to make it vegan, use substitutions written in ( )

Ingredients

1 recipe Sour Cream Pastry, blind baked in a 10" tart pan (see below) [I used a slightly larger tart pan, closer to 11", so it works for that as well]

Frangipane
1/2 cup blanched almonds*
6 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter (or margarine) room temp
3 Tbsp milk (or soy milk or almond milk)
1 Tbsp brandy
1/2 tsp almond extract

Topping
1 to 1 1/2 lb ripe but firm plums
2 Tbsp sugar (use raw sugar for more of a crunch), optional

Directions

1. Prepare crust and bake according to recipe below. Allow to cool on a rack while making frangipane.

2. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

3. Combine blanched almonds, sugar and flour in food processor. Process until almonds are finely ground (this should feel barely more coarse than flour). Add butter and liquids. Pulse a few times to blend evenly, scraping down the sides as needed.

4. Spread frangipane evenly onto the cooled crust. It won't look like much, but it puffs up when it bakes.

5. Pit and slice plums thinly. Shingle the plums to create a nice pattern on top. It's always pretty to work in concentric circles from the outside in. If your plums are really tart, sprinkle the top w/ a couple TBSP of sugar. (I completely spaced and forgot to add the extra sugar. But it was still delicious!)

6. Bake tart for 30-40 minutes, or until the plums are soft and the frangipane is puffed and starting to brown.

* You can blanch your own almonds by pouring boiling water over raw almonds. Allow to sit for 5-8 minutes, or until you see the skins start to loosen. Drain and rub the skins off. Put on towel to dry a bit then proceed w/ recipe.

        
Before and After

Sour Cream Pastry

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups
4 oz butter (1 stick), cold and diced into small pieces
4 TBSP sour cream (Tofutti Sour Supreme to make it vegan)
pinch salt

Directions

1. Prepare dough
Using food processor:
Place flour, butter and salt into food processor and pulse until mixture has sandy texture and just begins   to form small pea-sized lumps. Add sour cream and pluse until mixture comes together. Note: the dough       will still seem very loose and crumbly. It is, but will hold in a nice ball if you just squeeze it by hand.

By hand:
Place flour, butter and salt into medium sized bowl. Using your fingertips or pastry blender or fork, blend together until mixture has sandy texture. Stir in sour cream to form dough.

2. Form dough into disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

4. When dough is rested, remove from wrapping and roll out on floured surface a bit larger than the area of your tart pan. (Mine cracked a lot at the edges but I would assume this is normal.) Place in tart pan and press to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Prick dough all over with a fork, line with parchment paper and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake for 20-30+ minutes, or until it's golden but not too browned.

Note: I cooked my dough over 30 minutes and it still wasn't done. I should have let it cook longer, but the sides were getting brown even though the bottom wasn't 100% done yet. It wasn't bad but it was slightly underdone.  Next time I'm going to cover the edges of the tart pan with foil to prevent them from browning too fast. That way the bottom and sides of the crust can cook more evenly! Ahhh, bake and learn...

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