Friday, August 01, 2008

Apricot and Pistachio Tart


Folks, if you want to impress the holy hell out of your future mother-in-law, run, don't walk, to your local fruit stand, buy some apricots, and make this tart. This picture doesn't do it justice, so please don't let my high school photography skills deter you.

In our little household, my dude holds the title of alpha chef, since he has a superhuman palate and claims to be able to tell the difference between varieties of bottled water (Him: "Volvic is more mineral-y. You don't taste that?" Me: "Um.") -- it's like if Jeffery Steingarten and Ruth Reichl had a love child, is all I'm saying. For this reason, when we have guests for dinner I generally leave the menu to him, except for dessert, which I guard with a jealous fury. So when we cooked our first-ever dinner for his parents, I went into compulsive baker overdrive.

Stone fruits have been stunning this season here in New York, so I decided to go from there. Since I don't even buy flour without consulting Nick Malgieri first, I opened up How to Bake, and there it was: an Apricot and Pistachio Tart.

This was only the second tart I've ever made, and the first ever sweet one. I was a little apprehensive, since the first tart I made went largely untouched -- although I think that's because I made it for the Fourth of July, and everyone was drunk and full of hot dogs by the time I served it. But still, that kind of rejection sticks with you. It also didn't help that when I expressed my nervousness to my future mother-in-law, she waved her hand and said, "oh, tarts are easy." Which I read as: "...so if you can't even get this right, you're a class-A dumbass. And a slut."

When I pulled the tart out of the oven, the edges of the apricot halves were lightly browned, and the filling was puffy and golden. Everyone was silent as they dug in their forks and took their first bite.

"Wow." Said my future father-in-law.

"Can I have the recipe?" Said my future mother-in-law.

Victory! [Said like Entourage's Johnny Drama in his "Viking Quest" costume]


Apricot and Pistachio Tart

From Nick Malgieri's How to Bake
Makes one 9- to 10-inch tart, 8 to 10 servings
  • One recipe Sweet Tart Dough
For the filling:
  • 1 cup (about 4 oz.) shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 medium (2 to 2 1/2 lbs.) apricots, washed, halved and pitted
For the glaze:
  • 1 cup apricot preserves or jam (Kat sez: try to find preserves with little to no added sugar; the apricots pack plenty of sweetness on their own)
  • 2 tablespoons water or white rum
Prepare and chill the dough.

To remove the annoying skins from the pistachios, place them in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil. Drain the pistachios and place them on a clean kitchen towel. Fold the towel over the pistachios and give them a good rub; this should help to loosen the skins and make it easier to pick 'em off.

Coarsely chop 1/4 cup of the pistachios and set aside for finishing the tart. Dump the rest into a food processor, along with the sugar, and pulse until the mixture is finely ground (about 1 minute). Add the almond extract and one of the eggs and continue to pulse until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Cut the butter into 8 or so small pieces, and add to the work bowl, pulsing a few times after each addition. Continue to pulse until the butter is smoothly mixed with the nut mixture. Add the remaining egg and pulse until smooth. Allow the machine to run continuously for 30 seconds and scrape down the inside of the bowl. Add the flour and pulse until just incorporated. Set aside, covered.

Set a rack at the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Roll out the dough and line the pan.

Spread the pistachio filling on the dough. If you have a circular tart pan, arrange the apricots, cut side up, in 2 or 3 concentric circles. (I have a square tart pan, so I placed them in evenly-spaced rows.)

Bake the tart for about 35 minutes, until the crust and filling are baked through and the apricots are cooked. Cool the tart on a rack.

To make the glaze, bring the preserves and water or rum to a boil, and reduce until it gets thick and syrupy. Strain out the pulpy bits. Brush the hot glaze over the surface of the cooled tart. Sprinkle the reserved 1/4 cup chopped pistachios around the edges.

Unmold tart. Impress the holy hell out of future mother-in-law.


Sweet Tart Dough
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cup bleached all-purpose flour
Combine butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for 5 minutes, until the mixture is soft, fluffy, and almost white in color.

Beat in the vanilla and the egg yolk and continue beating for another two minutes, until the mixture is soft and smooth and resembles buttercream.

Place the flour in a strainer of sifter and sift it, all at once, over butter mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour into the butter mixture until no traces of flour remain visible.

Shape the dough into a rough 12-inch disk, about 1/4 inch thick and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough.

To use the dough, fold it in half and line the long edge up against the interior diameter of the pan. Unfold. Gently press - using the palm of your hands and fingertips - the dough against the interior surfaces of the pan.

To finish the top edge of the tart shell, position your floured thumb and index finger of one hand so that the thumb and index finger of one hand so that the thumb is inside the pastry and the tip is against the bottom of the crust. The tip of your index finger should rest against the top edge of the crust. Press gently with both thumb and finger to make the top of the crust straight and even.

If possible, chill until the crust is firm. This will minimize shrinkage. Bake according to the instructions in individual recipes.

4 comments:

ClatieK said...

I wanted to make some sort of tart/slut quip, but all I can think is yummmmmmm....

gd said...

I'll go where Katie didn't:

1. You said 'shrinkage.' tee hee!!

2. When faced with a choice of water or rum, I don't believe there ever IS a choice. Oh lord, how I wish my wedding-dress diet included rum balls...

(Would it be too alkie to have a well-saturdated rum cake as my wedding cake?)

3. Ask E.M. if he hates Ice Mountain as much as I do. I swear, that crap is just tap water from Illinois.

4. Um. If an Heirloom Tomato Tart was present at any 4th event I was attending--EVEN if it were competing with Rotel Chili Cheese Dip--it would NOT remain untouched. Heathens!!

Luv yerz!!

~g-vieve

gd said...

Saturdated? I'm drunk already. At 8:17 a.m.

(Damn you, blogger, for not allowing comments to be edited! DAMN YOUUUUUUUU...)

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