Thursday, July 24, 2014

apricot and cherry tart with marzipan topping.

I have found myself hoarding stone fruit.  
(There are worse things I could hoard, right?)

It started with 2 quarts of cherries and before I knew it, I was coming home almost daily with pounds of apricots and plums and more cherries then I could ever possibly eat.  I can't resist.  (Restraint is not one of my strong suits.)  They look like jewels and if there is anything I am drawn to it's bright, shinny, colorful objects.  (Tyler can attest to this.)

This tart was made out of necessity but the result is so damm good that I may require myself to continue my stone fruit frenzy.  

A delicate French tart shell serves as the base for a plethora of apricots and cherries.  The marzipan topping is everything.  Crunchy, almondy (so much almond flavor because nothing goes better with fruit then almonds), sweet but not too sweet.  It's a strussel but so much better.  As the tart bakes, the fruit breaks down turning into a tender mess of deliciousness.  The softened fruit marries beautiful with the crisp topping which is why it's such a perfect summer dessert (especially if served with whipped cream, just saying).  

Apricot and Cherry Tart with Marzipan Topping
Recipe from David Lebovitz

I played around with the ratio of fruit by using more cherries and less apricots (9 apricots and about 23 cherries). But any ratio would be lovely.  It would also be stellar with just one of the fruits.  The choice is yours.  In my constant attempt to sneak in whole grains, I subbed half the flour in the topping for whole wheat and it was a welcome addition.  

For the marzipan topping

1/2 cup (70g) flour (or 1/4 cup whole wheat and 1/4 cup all-purpose)
1/2 cup (70g) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup (3 ounces, 85g) almond paste
1/4 cup (40g) sliced almonds (blanched or unblanched) (or whole almonds chopped also works)
1-2 drops pure almond extract
4 tablespoons (2 ounces, 55g) salted or unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

For the fruit

12 ripe apricots
15 cherries
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar

One 9-inch (23cm) prebaked French tart shell (recipe below!)

Make the topping by mixing the flour, brown sugar, almond paste, sliced almonds, almond extract (if using), and butter with your fingers, or a pastry blender, until the pieces of almond paste and butter are the size of kernels of corn. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (109ºC).

Pit and halve the apricots and slice them into 1/2-inch (1.5cm) slices. Stem and pit the cherries, and halve them. Toss the apricots and cherries in a bowl with the cornstarch and granulated sugar, and spread the fruit into the baked tart shell.

Strew the marzipan topping over the fruit and bake until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes.

(I’ve not had this tart run over, but if you’re the cautious type, you can bake it on a foil-lined baking sheet, in case there are any spills.)

Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before serving.

Serving: The tart can be served just as it is, warm or at room temperature. It can be accompanied by ice cream, such as vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Storage: The tart will keep for up to three days at room temperature however the crisp topping will soften considerably by the second day.

French Pastry Dough
Recipe from David Lebovitz

Makes one 9 (23 cm) tart shell

90 g (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola)
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
150 g (5oz, or 1 slightly-rounded cup) flour

Preheat the oven to 410º F (210º C).

In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, such as a Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt.

Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.

When done, remove the bowl from oven (and be careful, since the bowl will be hot and the mixture might sputter a bit), dump in the flour and stir it in quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a 9-inch (23 cm) tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it a bit with a spatula.

Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with the heel of your and, and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold.

Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork about ten times, then bake the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.

Let the shell cool before filling.

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