Fresh apricots are just too beautiful right now not to make a tart showcasing them. They are also in surprisingly short supply at our grocery store, and I practically bought half of what was available just to make a tart. Strange since they're grown not too far way in southern Colorado.
After a busy week of working late three nights in a row prepping and then finishing a few cake orders, I was so tired. Yet I forced myself to clean up the kitchen that Friday night and put away all the stacks of cupcake liners, the boxes of sprinkles (many of which had managed to escape their containers and jump all over the kitchen floor where they stuck annoyingly to my bare feet), a thousand little bottles of food coloring, and the half-used packages of fondant and gum paste, as well as wash and dry all my piping tips, paint brushes and mixing bowls.
I knew I would be glad for a clean kitchen the next morning, when I could wake up and make coffee and appreciate not having to deal with the mess from the night and days before.
Other than getting dressed and making myself presentable for the cake pickups - after which I suddenly had so much more space in my refrigerator - I planned to laze about as much as possible, with a little light house cleaning and dinner prep.
We ate breakfast - coffee, toast and bacon - and then Jamie headed down to the garage to put in a few hours of work on his car before the late summer afternoon storms that we've been experiencing came, as I commenced with my day of nothing-ness.
Jamie had planned to make pulled pork for dinner the night before, but with my cake baking and decorating taking over every inch of space in the kitchen, we ordered Chinese delivery instead, and put off the pulled pork until Saturday. Which turned out to be the perfect sort of day for just such a meal, with the thunderstorms and wind outside and the scent of barbecue inside.
I slow-cooked the pork shoulder in the crock pot, similar to before, and Jamie fried some sweet potato chips to eat with our sandwiches. He also really loves to pickle vegetables, and the pickled cucumbers, onions and okra added a wonderful crunch and lightness to the sweet and spicy, rich pork meat.
Since I grew up in the South, I thought the only way to eat okra was in little pieces, breaded and deep-fried, and it wasn't until recently that I'd ever even seen what okra looks like whole. With Jamie's pickling experiments, I've really come to love it prepared that way instead.
On Sunday, Jamie went for a motorcycle ride with a friend - a consolation for not making it to Sturgis this summer - and I picked up the groceries with plans for making homemade pizza for dinner and the apricot tart for dessert.
Starting with an almond shortbread crust in my blue tart pan, I filled the crust with a simple mixture of cream cheese, cream, sugar and vanilla, whipped until thick and smooth.
And on top of the filling I arranged slices of fresh yellow apricots, with, as you see, a few black plums as well. I tossed the fruit with a little lemon, honey and cinnamon.
As much as I loved this tart with the apricots and plums, I couldn't help imagining rows of blueberries on top, or even homemade, chilled blueberry pie filling. So I might just have to put a blueberry cheese pie on my baking list for this fall...
One Year Ago: Prosciutto Egg Cups with Parmesan and Thyme
Two Years Ago: Fruit for Dinner and a Quiet Week Ahead
Apricot Almond Tart
almond shortbread crust:
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 10 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
- fresh stone fruit or berries (I used 3 apricots and 2 black plums)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Prepare and bake the crust:
In a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, almonds and salt. Process until the almonds are finely ground. With the processor running, add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, just until moistened. Add the yolk and pulse a few times to incorporate. The mixture should resemble moist cornmeal.
Spray a 9-inch round tart pan with a removeable bottom with non-stick spray. Pile the dough crumbs into the pan, and spread out to the edge. Firmly press down against the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Freeze for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a piece of foil with non-stick spray and place the foil, greased side down, against the frozen crust, fitting it closely to the crust. Fill the foil with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.
Carefully remove the foil and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and bake crust, uncovered, for an additional 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.
Set pan in the refrigerator to cool completely.
2. Make the filling:
With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add half the cream and beat until smooth, then add the rest of the cream and beat until very thick and fluffy. Spread over the cooled crust.
3. Top with fruit:
If using fresh berries, you can simply place the berries over the filling and dust with a little powdered sugar. For my tart, I sliced the apricots and plums, then tossed them with the lemon juice (to prevent browning), honey and cinnamon, and arranged them over the tart. (Note that sliced stone fruit is very juicy, and you may find a little excess juice around the edge of the tart - this can just be soaked up with a paper towel.)
Serve right away, or refrigerate until serving. (The crust and filling can be prepared a day in advance, but wait to top with the fruit until you're close to serving, so the fruit is very fresh.)
Yields 8-12 servings
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen