Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fruit Tarts

OK - here is another non-chocolate post. Don't worry though, more chocolate ganache filled macarons are coming up, as well as a planned visit to Theo Chocolate upcoming in the very near future. But it's August and it's fruit season. And these bake very quickly, not heating up the kitchen. Not that that's been a problem - it was 60 degrees and pouring rain on Sunday. . . .

One thing that I'm learing quickly is how hard it is to photograph food and make it look beautiful, especially rustic type food that doesn't have the advantage of sugar paste flowers and food coloring and royal icing swags. That stuff, in pinks and purples and yellow and red and green, that stuff pops. These humble tarts don't really pop until you put them in your mouth!

But with your eyes closed, I'd put these babies up against anything. The first one is a plum tart with almond creme. The second is an apricot jam tart with frangipane and pine nuts. The difference between almond and frangipane? Well, for purposes of these recipes none - both use frangipane, which is almond paste, sugar, egg, and butter (maybe a touch of flour) that is used as a base or a topping and bakes into an almondy creamy wonder. Under the plums it stays soft and creamy. On top of the apricot jam it gets a lightly crunchy top crust and supports the pine nuts.

Either way the texture and flavor are perfect with fruit or jam, though I think I make it sweeter when I plan to use it with otherwise unsweetened fresh fruit, and less sweet when it is going on top of jam.

The puff pastry is a dream - I found it at Big John's, premade, frozen perfectly flat, two sheets per package. $7.50 for the all-butter, less than that for the half-butter. It's good, it keeps, it's always ready to use, there's no waste. The only thing you miss is the "oh my god I can't believe I pulled this off" feeling you get when you make your own successful puff pastry. But I can live with that if the trade off is having a fantastic dessert in 30 minutes from orchard to table.

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