Thursday, July 12, 2012

Love The One You're With: Apricot Tart

"What's your favorite pie?"

Daily, I'm asked this question.  

It used to be, "what's your favorite candy to make" but that was when I was shamelessly promoting Sugar Baby.  But now that I'm shamelessly promoting Pie It Forward, the questions are about pie.  And what's my favorite.  

And I always answer, because it's true, "It depends on the season."

If you bake as much as I do and if your purpose in baking is to conjure something new from the golden standards of butter, flour and sugar, one thing you can't afford is pastry monogamy.  You must go with the flow of the seasons and experiment. Often.  You seek out new partners and shower them with affection and attention.  Get what you need and move on.  No lingering.  No coddling.  The seasons are fleeting and there are too many ingredients screaming to be used!  I'm just one woman.  I can't afford culinary attachments.    

Today, the apricots are ripe and my strawberry patch is in danger from marauding bunny rabbits.  And I had a random can of pistachio paste in the bakery pantry and a few lonely unshelled pistachios besides.  Today, an apricot, strawberry frangipane tart is "my favorite pie."  Because it's true...until the Italian plums are ripe and then I'll have to move on.

Apricot/Strawberry Pistachio Frangipane Tart


For the crust

2 cups flour
1 cup corn starch
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small pieces
1 egg
3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frangipane

5 ounces pistachio paste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 egg

For the topping

12 ripe apricots
apricot preserves
1 pint wild strawberries or just very small traditional strawberries
10 pistachios, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw)


For the crust

•Preheat oven to 350º

•In the bowl of a food processor fit with the blade attachment, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt and pulse to combined.  Add the cold butter and pulse until the mixture resembles very coarse cornmeal.

•In a small bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, the egg and vanilla.  Slowly add the egg mixture to the processor while pulsing until the dough just start to look moist and come together.

•Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of parchment or plastic wrap and gently "massage" the dough with the tips of your finger to evenly distribute any drier bits with the more moist bits.

•Press a little over half the dough into a 10" tart pan.  Use the tips of your fingers to pat the dough into place and up the sides of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.

For the frangipane

•Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fit with the blade attachment and process until smooth.

•Transfer the frangipane to the crust and smooth it into an even layer with a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon.

•Bake for 5 more minutes.

To finish

•Cut the apricots in half and remove the pit.  Line the tart pan in concentric circles with the apricots and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.  Bake for 10 to 15 more minutes, until the apricots just start to be come fragrant and soften and the frangipane firms.

•Brush the apricots with the apricot preserves and top willy nilly with strawberries and the chopped pistachios.

**NOTE**  You'll have extra dough from the crust that you can sprinkle over the apricots before baking, like a a crumble or just bake it like a shortbread!

Left over crust dough makes for some mighty fine shortbread.