Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Plum Almond Tart

 You might have noticed I went missing for almost 2 weeks, which is unusual even for me. But I have a reason. See, I've been planning something supercalifragilisticexpialidociously fun for next week. Stay tuned....
 But meanwhile, this was made a couple of weeks back, when I could still go outside without having to worry about zipping up my boots and digging that old scarf out of the back of the closet. It used up some of our last perfectly sweet plums and was a great goodbye to summery flavors.
 It's very similar to this French Pear Tart, starting with a buttery crust, which is topped with a  creamy almond layer and crowned with the "star of the show," fresh fruit. The layer of almond cream puffs up in the oven and becomes a beautiful golden-brown that kind of makes you want to stick your face in the whole thing.
 I glazed it with a little bit of fig jam and water I boiled together, but this is really just for that bakery-style, shiny finish; a dusting of powdered sugar is just as delicious!
 This was the perfect dessert to finish off a summery meal, especially when paired with Olive Oil Ice Cream. I mean, come on - plums, frangipane, and creamy olive oil - how much classier can you get?! ;)
Plum Almond Tart
(adapted from Around My French Table; wording adapted from Writes 4 Food and Dorie Greenspan)

1 recipe sweet tart dough (recipe below)
About 5 sweet, ripe plums
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup almond flour (or almond meal)
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 large egg
2 tsp. dark rum or 1 tsp. good vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fig jam (or other light-colored jelly), mixed with 1/2 teaspoon water

In a food processor, whirl together the butter and sugar until they’re well-combined and smooth. Add the almond flour; process to blend. Add the flour and cornstarch, process, then add the egg. Process briefly until the mixture is smooth and well-combined. Add the rum or vanilla and pulse just to combine. Scrape the almond cream into a container and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.
Cut the plums into thick slices and set on paper towels to dry for a couple of minutes.
To assemble the tart, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or piece of parchment. Spoon the almond cream into the prepared tart shell and smooth the surface. Arrange the plum slices in a circular pattern on top of the cream, leaving a tiny bit of space between them to allow the cream to rise up and turn golden brown.
Bake the tart for 50 to 60 minutes, until the crust is a rich brown color, the almond cream is shiny and golden, and a cake tester inserted in the cream comes out clean. Remove the tart to a cooling rack and let it cool before lifting it out of the pan.
 Microwave the jam and water together just until bubbling. Brush onto cooled tart (or dust tart with pastry cream).
This tart is best eaten the day it is made.

Sweet Tart Dough
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in the workbowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.  Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely - you'll have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pea-size pieces and that's just fine.  Stir the egg, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition.  When the egg is in, process in long pulses - about 10 seconds each - until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds.  Just before your reaches this clumpy stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change - heads up.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface.
Very lightly and sparingly - make that very, very lightly and sparingly - knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
Butter a 9" tart pan and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Don't be stingy - you want a crust with a little heft because you want to be able to both taste and feel it.  Also, don't be too heavy-handed - you want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don't want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly shortbreadish texture.  Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.  Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To partially bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil tightly against the crust.  Bake the crust for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil.  If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.  Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack; keep it in its pan. 

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