Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Tart that is Sweet, Rich and Tart! Apricots and Pistachios

Apricots AND Pistachios? Would that even work, I wondered looking at Martha Stewart's "Pies & Tarts" cookbook? I wasn't sure. Turns out I never should have worried.

I had originally planned on making Apricot Hand Pies, a recipe I had first seen in one of her (Martha Stewart's) magazines years ago. But there was a problem, well two problems. First, the apricots I bought were too big for the hand pies. The recipe called for 6 small apricots and I most definitely had 6 fairly large apricots, as far as apricots are ever large. Which they're not.You might think that wouldn't be a problem, but it was each. Each hand pie was basically 2 pieces of pie dough and half an apricots. It wasn't a recipe designed for slices. The second problem I had was harder to fix.

I had asked my husband Tim to bring up the apricots the night before and put them in the fridge. Unfortunately he set them on the counter. And anyone who knows how delicate apricots can be, especially ripe ones in the heat, wrapped in a plastic bag, as already figured out what had happened. Yup. They rotted and turned into mush.

You're probably thinking, no problem, just don't make pie. I would normally agree with you, except we were bringing dessert to the Valley Center Lion's Inauguration Dinner. I asked Tim to pick up more apricots on the way home and to make certain he was home at least an hour before we had to leave. He wasn't. So I cut up the strawberries and added them to a big clear glass trifle bowl, alternating layers of blueberries and blackberries with layers strawberries with a sprinkling of raspberries. Add to that a plate of sliced Costco pound cake and a spray bottle of whipped cream and we had dessert! It was last minute, but deeply appreciated. I would say it was the perfect dessert for such a hot day.

Now I am back to where I started. I have 8 largish apricots, about a 1 1/5 (pound and a half). What to do? I go back to the original back-up plan and decide to make an Apricot and Pistachio Tart. Here is how that happened:

Tonight my husband Tim and I decided that it was about time we instigated a date night once a week. So we have decided that one a week the two of us are going to make a nice meal together, keep the TV off and make a big deal  of sharing a meal together. To celebrate this, Tim and I got together and tried a new recipe.

Please note the following before you begin. This is SUPER EASY. I know it has 10 steps, but the original recipe had half that many. I just divided the steps up to make it easier to follow.

Apricot and Pistachio Tart

1 cup shelled, roasted and salted pistachios
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 egg (I used extra large)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

All purpose flour for dusting
1 box-puff pastry, thawed*

6 apricots (1 1/4 pounds), pitted and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1/4 cup apricot jam
1 1/2 tablespoons water
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. With a paper towel, gently rub the pistachios as you add them to the bowl of your food processor. Do not remove all the salt. (If you prefer, you may use unsalted pistachios. If so, add a pinch of salt.)  Add the sugar and process for a minute. Add the butter and process until a paste forms. Add the egg and the vanilla, process to combine.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry removing all paper. If the puff pastry comes in multiple sheets, wet your finger (or a pastry brush) and run it along one side of the dough. Place the second sheet on top and roll gently to attach and work out the folds. Do not try to make it flatter. You should have a 17-by-9-inch rectangle.
  4. Transfer the puff pastry to a rimmed, parchment lined baking sheet. This is best achieved with two people, but one can easily do the job. 
  5. Being sure to leave a 3/4-inch border, gently spread the pistachio butter on the puff pastry. Use all the butter.
  6. Arrange apricots on top of the pistachio butter. This is your moment for artistry. So take your time. Decide if you want short or long rows. Whichever you decide, place the first apricot slice in each row now so you'll see if you have extra space. As you'll see in mine, my fruit was not big enough to make 4 rows not small enough to make 5. So I added an extra row down the center with the fruit going in the opposite direction.
  7. Fold in the edges of the pastry. I used my fingers to make a scalloped border, but you may just fold it over and give it a pinch, if you prefer. Brush the heavy cream along the top of your border. 
  8. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of chopped pistachios over the apricots. Now sprinkle the sugar over the apricots and nuts.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes. The crust should be a nice golden brown, the fruit juicy. You'll smell the apricots about 5 minutes before you need to pull them out. Allow to cool and set up slightly on a wire rack.
  10. Optional. Combine the jam with the water in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring until loose, about 2 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl. Brush glaze over apricots.  
Serve tart warm or at room temperature. It doesn't need a thing, in my opinion. Just a fork, maybe a plate and a napkin if you're getting fancy. :-)

*If you are using the same brand as I did, it comes in two sheets. Each sheet is rolled into thirds. Place 1 sheet on the lightly dusted board. With the second sheet cut off 1/3 (one third) of the sheet and attached it the one of the board as directed above. Set the other 2/3 (two-thirds) of the sheet aside for another use. (See left over puff pastry)

**The original recipe calls for the tart to be place in the refrigerator or freeze for 30 minutes until firm. If you choose to do this step add 5 minutes to the baking time.

I did not refrigerate my tart or add the glaze. It was both beautiful and delicious without these 2 additional steps.

I still need to make those Apricot Hand Pies. I have been lusting after that recipe for years. I'll let you know when my food lust turns to action. In the mean time, keep checking back. You never know what I'll be up to in the kitchen next!

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