Let me ask you a question. Have you ever eaten an apricot? No, not a dried one found at the bottom of the bag of trail mix, or one that’s been made into that jar of preserves at the back of your refrigerator. I mean, just eaten an apricot straight up. I’m guessing for most of you, that would be a no. And, to be quite honest, before this week, I hadn’t either. What can I say? When walking through the produce section, apricot’s more popular cousins like the peach and plum, just happen to call my name a little louder. Well, this week, I decided to branch out and pick up a few of those little, bright orange pieces of goodness. I am so glad I did! They have a perfect balance of sweetness with just a little hint of tartness….and they go really well with the raspberries they’re paired with in this week’s project: an apricot raspberry tart.
Now, I easily could have put these fruits together in a pie, and they would have still would have tasted amazing together. (In fact, that’s not a bad idea…) But, lately, I’ve been thinking about the many special things about a tart. First of all, during the summer, most of us are looking for a little bit of a lighter dessert. Because, while a deep dish apple pie sounds appealing at all times, it doesn’t always feel appealing anymore after you’ve eaten a hefty slice on a 90-degree day. A tart, on the other hand, is the pie’s little, more petite brother. Because it’s not as deep or tall, you can still get the taste of whatever your filling of choice is, without feeling like you’ll need a floatation device in the pool later on. Plus, once you’ve taken the tart out of it’s pan, it’s sides become exposed, unlike a pie’s. Depending on whether your crust holds up like you want it to, it could potentially be a prettier dessert as a result! So, without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff!
First, curd. Can we just talk about curd for a second? Whenever I think about it, my heart tends to sing, and I can’t control the 80 year old, Shop Rite-loving woman inside of me any longer. Whenever I’m working at the bakery and someone asks me what my favorite flavor is, I’m automatically calling out the name of whichever cupcake has a curd in it, before they’ve had the chance to even finish their question. Then, I remember that I’m a young woman in her mid-20’s and I calm down. But, anyways, the point is, I love curd. And until recently, I never realized how many forms it could take, because most of us are pretty accustomed to the star child of the curd family: lemon. But, don’t be fooled. You can make it in any variation: lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, or in this case, raspberry! This curd is unique because it isn’t as tart as a citrus curd, because of the natural sweetness of the berries.
For this curd in particular, because it’s not a purely citrus-y one, the process is a little different than you would use for a normal variety. Still, it’s so simple. Essentially, you’re going to be melting down your butter in a saucepan and then adding all of your other ingredients at once. You’ll keep on stirring and mashing the thawed frozen berries until the mixture thickens up into something similar to a thin pudding. At this point, you’ll push it through a strainer to catch any seeds from the raspberries. Once it’s all in the bowl underneath the strainer, cover it directly with plastic wrap like we did with the pastry cream a few weeks earlier. This prevents a skin from forming. Let it cool completely. You can do this step a few days in advance.
Once you’ve made your bowl of heaven, you’ll move on to the simple crust, which will be baked in two phases: pre-filling and post-filling. It’s kind of a weird hybrid between a dough-y pie crust and a crumble-y crust. The mix of the two is the way it is, so that the crust is sturdy enough to hold it’s own shape. Because I was going for a summery feel with this tart, I added some lemon zest to the recipe. Not only was the zest the first thing you could smell as you took the crust out of the oven, but it made for such a nice citrusy and nutty flavor combo with the almond meal in there.
To start, you’re going to mix together the flour, almond meal, sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Once combined, you’ll cut in the cold butter and use a pastry blender (or, even better, your fingers) to transform that mixture into one that looks like it’s made up of little pebbles. Then, make a well, and add the eggs and vanilla. Mix it with your hands until it starts to come together. At this point, you can pour as much crust mixture as you need into a tart pan, and press it with your fingers up the side. You’ll have some crumble left, which you can spread out on a sheet pan and bake alongside the tart. This stuff will be used later on. Throw these in the oven, and take them out when they are cooked through and brown (which will take less time for the crumble on the sheet pan). Around the time you take out the crumble, you may consider covering the sides of your tart with aluminum foil to keep them from browning too much.
Now’s time for phase two of baking. Take your pie crust, and fill it with the curd. You’ll reduce the oven temperature to 325, and pop the tart in the oven for about 20-25 minutes to help the curd set up into the crust. When I did this, it took longer than I thought for it set up.So, my one tip to you, that I wish someone told me… stop watching that oven! It’ll get to the point where your curd almost looks like it’s puffing up a bit, and when you jiggle the pan, it’ll only do a little shimmy instead of the full Harlem Shake that it would have done when you first put it in. Once you remove the tart, you’ll need to let it cool before arranging the fresh apricots and raspberries on top. You can really do this in any design you want. Then, either sprinkle the extra crumble from before, freely over the top, or arrange it more carefully, depending on your design.
And there you have it, summer in a tart! They say that we eat with our eyes, and in this case I’d say that they (whoever “they” are) are 100% right. Apricot raspberry tart tastes even better than you’d imagine because it’s just so darn pretty. Now, let’s say that apricots and raspberries aren’t your thing. This tart can be changed in so many ways. You could change the decorative fresh fruit, change the curd by using a different kind of frozen fruit, etc. The possibilities are endless! But, come on. Really, you should just make this one. Right now. Today. Seriously.
By the time this goes up, we’ll be home from our trip. And while it’ll take me a little while to recover from the post-travel blues and lack of sleep, there’s plenty more to look forward to on the blog in the coming weeks! More French inspired goods, and… a baking competition!? Until then, stay tuned and stay hungry!