Thursday, August 16, 2007

plum-almond tart

plum-almond tart

Even haiku-writing food bloggers get in ruts. We fall back on our old crutches–overused commas and em-dashes. We get lazy with our descriptions, referring to too many things as “awakening,” “a revelation,” “succulent,” and/or “meltingly tender.” Cute turns twee as growing things become “veggies” and delicious is replaced with “yummy.” And find that all of our posts follow the same predictable pattern–there was a previous belief, an eye-opener, a tried-it-at-home and a happily-ever-after with a recipe on top. Fine, I’m just talking about myself, but how am I to grow without owning up to my bad habits?

Why air this dirty laundry today? Because I was about to start this entry with “it started out so innocently” but then the five-alarm went off in my head: No. Stop. Alert! Code Red! Backspace! So, although it did, let’s just pretend you know that already. And let us talk about The Tart That Started It All instead.

cherry frangipane tartcherry frangipane tart

Madeleine is a new bakery that I walk by on my way home from work, a refreshing change from the All Cupcakes All The Time that dominates New York bakery scene these days. I prefer a macaron or wee French tart any day over a bland cake with teeth-achingly sweet frosting (though my resolve is known to weaken if that frosting is, say, pink). A few weeks ago, I picked up a small cherry tartlet for Alex and I to split, the type I see often at pastry shops but rarely try and was bowled over to learn the stuff between the cherries tasted exactly like marzipan, and if anyone remembers back this long, they will know that I looove me some marzipan.

tart shellpie weights

Of course, since I had only moderate success with my first marzipan endeavor, I was convinced that such a tart would be very difficult to make, but boy, was I wrong. If possible, it is even easier than a fresh berry tart with pastry cream, and although I wouldn’t dare play favorites, I do expect that my next several tart endeavors will have a ground almond padding around the bruleed fruit. In this case, the fruit was plums but as the apples and pears roll in, you better believe they’ll be next in line.
Oh, and by the way? It never starts innocently. What fun would that be?

plum-almond tartletsplum-almond tartletsplum-almond tartletsplum-almond tartlets

On Serious Eats: 5 Ways To Green Up Your Kitchen with no shame or mockery!

Aaargh! Despite apparently moving this here Kitchen to a bigger server last week, this site, as some have noticed, has been up and down and up and down for the last couple weeks. Some of the problems have been on the specific server itself, some–like yesterday and today–have been Dreamhost network-wide. Nonetheless, I’ve had enough and will be shopping for a more reliable hosting service next week. Harrumph!

Napa, Baby: Tomorrow morning, off we go! I am hoping to depart from the usual text-heavy nature of posts and slap some pictures and notes up here throughout the weekend. I really want you to see everything as immediately as we get to, because really, it’s the least you deserve for sending us on this awesome trip. However, if we’re too busy or exhausted, I have Jocelyn and her E-Z Bake Oven on stand-by. You have no idea how much she wants to bake you cookies.

Plum-Almond Tart
Adapted from Bon Appetit, October 1998

Makes 1 9-inch tart or 8 4-inch mini-tartlets

For crust
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons ice water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For filling
1/3 cup whole almonds (about 2 ounces)
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons framboise (raspberry liqueur) or brandy
12 ounces ripe red-skinned plums, pitted, cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges
1/4 cup red currant jelly

Whipped cream (optional)

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine first 3 ingredients in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix 2 tablespoons ice water and vanilla in small bowl. Pour water mixture over dough. Process until moist clumps form.

Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Roll out on floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in and press, forming double-thick sides. Using fork, pierce dough all over. Freeze 15 minutes.

Bake crust until pale golden, about 30 minutes (crust may shrink slightly). Cool on rack. Maintain oven temperature.

Make filling:
Finely grind almonds with sugar in processor. Add egg, butter and 2 teaspoons framboise. Process until batter forms. Pour filling into crust. Arrange plums atop filling. Bake until plums are tender and filling is golden and set, about 50 minutes.

Melt jelly with remaining 2 teaspoons framboise in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat. Brush jelly mixture over plums.

Cool tart. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream, if desired.


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