Custard pies and tarts have always been a favorite of mine. My aunt often made plain custard pies with no fruit added, and always invited me to come over for a slice, knowing how excited and appreciative I'd be. Little did she know what a huge influence she would have on my eventual love of baking. Creamy custard in ramekins, eggy-custard fruit tarts, and savory custard filled with cheese and vegetables in a pastry crust, I can never get enough custard! I think what makes this apricot tart so wonderful, is the almond extract that's added to the egg custard (there are also ground almonds in the crust) and the honey. Your kitchen will smell unbelievably good while this is baking.
Apricot • Honey • Almond Tart
adapted recipe from Patricia Wells At Home In Provence
For the filling:
• 10 1/2-inch tart crust, recipe below
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 4 tablespoons raw full-flavored honey
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 3 to 4 cans halved apricots, drained and dried thoroughly with paper towels
• Confectioners' sugar, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.
2. In a medium-size bowl, combine the cream, eggs, almond and vanilla extracts, and honey. Whisk to blend. Sift in the flour while whisking.
3. Starting just inside the edge of the prebaked tart shell, neatly overlap the halved canned apricots, cut side up. Make 3 or 4 concentric circles, working toward the center. Fill the center with the remaining apricots.
4. Pour the cream evenly over the fruit, filling as closely to the top edge of the pastry shell as possible. Place in the center of the oven and bake until the filling is firm and the pastry is a deep golden brown, approximately 60 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar just before serving.
Sweet Tart Dough
makes enough for three tart crusts
adapted recipe from Paris Sweets by Dorie Greenspan
NOTE: I used a 10 1/2-inch pan for this tart.
• 10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
• Lightly packed 1/2 cup ground blanched almonds
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs, at room temperature
• 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1. Place the butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until creamy. Add the confectioners' sugar and process to blend well. Add the ground almonds, salt, and vanilla and continue to process until smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary. Lightly stir the eggs together with a fork and, with the machine running, add them to the work bowl; process for a few seconds to blend. Finally, add the flour and pulse until the mixture just starts to come together. When the dough forms moist curds and clumps and then starts to form a ball, stop! -- you don't want to overwork it.
2. Gather the dough into a ball and divide it into 3 pieces. Gently press each piece into a disk and wrap each disk in plastic. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before rolling and baking. Wrapped airtight, the dough can be frozen for up to one month.
3. This is a delicate dough because of all the butter. I will place a large piece of waxed paper on my work surface, dust it lightly with flour, and place the dough on top of the paper. I then dust the dough again and cover with the plastic it was wrapped in. I roll the dough between the waxed paper and plastic and continue to dust the dough on both sides when needed. If the dough warms and becomes difficult to work with, I return it to the refrigerator for several minutes. Transfer the dough to the tart pan ( I always peel away the wax paper, but leave the plastic on top until I have the dough in the pan and pressed against the bottom and up the sides), remove the plastic wrap and trim the dough along the edge of the tart pan by rolling with the rolling pin.
4. Place the crust in the freezer to chill and preheat the oven to 350˚F. When the oven has preheated, remove the tart crust from the freezer. Cut a sheet of aluminum foil, rub one side of the foil with butter and place the foil, buttered side down, onto the crust. Fill the foil-lined crust with dried beans or rice.
5. Bake the crust in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the beans/rice and the foil. Proceed with recipe for Apricot Tart above.
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