Friday, July 3, 2009
Apricot Tart Verlet
Café Verlet on Rue Saint-Honoré is a traditional French café that has been doing business since the late 19th century. They serve what most argue is the best cup of coffee in Paris. Among its other notable pleasures is this very rustic Apricot Tart. With a hint of almond to enhance the jammy apricots, this tart is so quintessentially French it’s hard not to dream about sitting at a table at Café Verlet while savoring each and every bite.
The tart begins with a very easy crust that is pressed into the tart pan. The filling is crème fraîche sweetened with a touch of lavender honey. It bakes to a very thin layer of custard that complements the deliciously tart apricots and crisp cookie crust. Barely sweet and extraordinarily simple, this is all about showcasing delicious fresh fruit. If you love apricots and simple seasonal desserts, you will certainly enjoy this tart.
- My oven runs hot and my pastry crust got a bit too browned. The tart was done in about 40 minutes, so watch yours closely as the crust will taste bitter if it browns too much. Next time I might lower the temperature to 325 degrees when the filling is added.
- I used crème fraîche for the filling rather than heavy cream. For a quick crème fraîche substitute, use 1/4 C + 2 T sour cream, 2 T buttermilk and a few drops of lemon juice. I also used regular flour instead of "Wondra."
- I always favor desserts and pastries that are not too sweet, but I did add a generous sprinkling of sugar on top of the apricots because while the crust is the sweet element, apricots become quite tart when baked and the cream filling is not sweet at all.
- I thought the recipe seemed to call for far too much almond extract, but it worked out fine. Be sure to use a quality brand.
- This would be good with any sort of stone fruit or berries.
Tarte Abricot Verlet
adapted from The Food Lover's Guide to Paris by Patricia Wells
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1/2 C sugar
1/4 t pure almond extract
1/4 t vanilla extract
1/2 t fine sea salt
1 1/4 C + 1 T (180 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 T finely ground unblanched almonds to layer on baked tart shell
1/2 C crème fraîche or heavy cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 t pure almond extract
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 T full-flavored honey, such as lavender
1 T superfine flour, such as Wondra
1 1/2 pounds fresh apricots, pitted and halved
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9” tart pan with removable bottom.
For the pastry, blend together the melted butter and sugar. Add the extracts, salt and flour to form a soft dough. Place the dough in the center of the prepared pan. Use the tips of your fingers to press the pastry along the bottom and up the sides of the pan in an even layer.
Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the dough is slightly puffy and set, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the ground almonds over the bottom of the crust to prevent the crust from becoming soggy from the filling.
Combine the crème fraîche or cream, egg, extracts and honey. Whisk in the flour. Pour the filling evenly over the pastry. Place the apricot halves in an overlapping decorative pattern, cut side up.
Bake the tart on a sheet pan until the filling is firm and the pastry is a golden brown, 55 to 60 minutes (mine baked in 40 minutes, so watch it closely to avoid the crust from browning too much). Place the tart on a rack to cool. Remove from tart pan and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.