Short and Sweet

My oh my, the pastry cart.

That’s what apricot season usually is.

But according to reports, this year’s will be even briefer because an early frost and a rainy spring wrecked havoc on fragile apricot blossoms.

So if you still spy apricots at your local farmers’ market, do pick some up to enjoy.

That way, you also can bake this beauty — “Apricot, Almond Brown Butter Tart” by Cindy Pawlcyn, chef-owner of Napa Valley’s Mustards Grill, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, and Go Fish.

A taste of the season.

Made with slivered almonds pulverized with confectioners’ sugar, flour, and eggs, the tart tastes faintly of almond paste. It’s moist and sweet like that, too. Plus it has a very rich buttery flavor. (There’s 1 1/2 sticks of butter in this tart, if you must know.) Indeed, the tart’s foundation is a buttery crust that’s pre-baked. Apricot halves poke through the top all the way around, like sunshine bursting through the clouds.

The only change I would make is the baking time for the crust. I followed the directions to blind-bake the crust with pie weights and foil for 50 minutes, then for another 25 minutes after removing the weights and foil. That seemed like an awfully long time, and turns out it definitely was, as I ended up with a really dark brown crust that took some real effort to crack through with a fork. Next time, I’d go with the more conventional baking time of 20 minutes with pie weights and foil, followed by another 10 minutes without.

The recipe can be made with 2 cups dried apricots or about 10-12 fresh ones. But definitely go with the fresh while you still can.

Apricot, Almond Brown Butter Tart

(Makes one 12-inch tart)

This dried apricot tart is crispy and tender, tangy and sweet all at the same time. The recipe can be made with fresh apricots; just omit the poaching step.

For tart shell:

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) chilled, unsalted butter, diced

5 tablespoons ice water

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For filling:

3/4 cup slivered almonds

2 cups dry white wine

2 cups dried apricots (10 ounces)

1 stick unsalted butter

1 vanilla bean — halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved

1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

To make tart shell: In a food processor, pulse flour with sugar and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add ice water and vanilla extract and pulse just until dough comes together. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface; flatten it into a disk. Wrap disk in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour, until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 15-inch round, 1/4 inch thick. Transfer round to a 12-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom; gently press it over the bottom and up the side. Trim any exess. Refrigerate tart shell for at least 20 minutes, until firm.

Line tart shell with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for about 20 minutes, until shell starts to brown around the edges. Remove foil and weights and bake for about 10-15 minutes longer, until shell is cooked through. Transfer to a rack and let cool. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees.

To make the filling: Spread slivered almonds on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for about 6 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium nonreactive saucepan, bring wine to a boil. Add apricots, cover and simmer over moderate heat until plumped, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a small skillet, cook butter with vanilla bean seeds over moderate heat until browned, about 4 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse toasted almonds with confectioners’ sugar, flour and salt until finely ground. Add eggs and pulse until just combined. Add browned butter and the almond extract and pulse until smooth.

Drain apricots and pat dry. (Or alternately, cut fresh apricots in half, and remove pits, if using fresh ones.) Pour almond filling into tart shell. Nestle apricots into the filling in concentric circles. Bake tart for about 50 minutes, until filling is golden brown and set.

Transfer to a rack to cool. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature, dolloped with sweetened whipped cream.

Adapted from a recipe by Cindy Pawlcyn as published in Food & Wine Magazine, April 2009

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  • Your tart looks delicious! I saw this in Food and Wine and wanted to try it, but it’s still sitting in my stack. One of these days. Good to know about the crust baking time.

  • “Short and sweet” is the perfect description. I’m looking at our prolific apricot tree and think that the hundreds of stone fruits will be ripe (all at once) in about a week.

    And then there will be an orgy of picking and gorging and baking and more gorging. This recipe looks a little more complicated than my usual endeavors, but the results look like they’re worth the extra effort.

  • Yum, that looks soooo good. I had some apricots a couple of weeks ago and they were so sweet. So even if the season is short, it does seem that it hasn’t affected the quality!

  • Oh it looks positively scrumptious. I’m going to go grab some ice cream now to satisfy my suddenly-complaining sweet tooth.

  • I’ll have to be sure to pick up some apricots when I go out tomorrow. The first ones I bought were disappointing.

  • Luverly, Carolyn. Apricot season hasn’t even started here in Vancouver. The word on the street is that local strawberries are coming this weekend. Me thinks a strawberry almond brown butter tart would be a real treat!

  • There was a mention in the SJ Mercury Newspaper of the folks at Wolfe Ranch in Brentwood saying lots of San Joseans are going north for apricots & other fruits in the next couple weeks. Demand is high for Royal Blenheim apricots, so Wolfe Ranch sells them in 24-lb boxes by Special Order; Call 925-634-1308, 48hrs in Advance. Pick up apricots at the Wolfe Packing Shed, 700 Creek Rd, Brentwood.


    From the website: 3 lb basket of apricots $6.00 – no reservation needed!!

  • I have picked some up from the farmer’s market too and notice they are picking them more under ripe than usual too. Not a problem, but you need to be more patient and let them ripen on the counter a few days.

  • Ive not had a cake like that before! YUM! I can just imagine how great this would be with some vanilla ice cream 🙂

  • I picked up some apricots a few weeks ago and was disappointed in their flavor. I’ll keep this recipe around for the next time I buy some.

  • Ann: The season for Blenhiems is even shorter than for other apricots. They’re very fragile, so not many folks grow them commercially any more. Wonderful flavor. If you guys have yet to try them, you’re in for a treat.

    Everyone: It’s true that a lot of apricots out there don’t have the greatest of flavors. But one saving grace is that when you cook them — such as in this tart — the flavor improves. The cooking concentrates the sugars, and gives them a little more oomph.

  • I have had a few amazingly sweet, juicy apricots this year. I will have to take advantage of them while I can!

  • I spotted some apricots at the market last weekend. I must pick some up for this cake. It looks delicious and bright. A perfect dessert for the season!

  • I have some apricots and would love to make this delicious tart! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • We have a very old neglected tree in the “lower forty” which the birds always seem to harvest before we can get to it. But the comment about picking them early reminded me — If we haul ourselves down there and pick them before the birds even realize they’re there, they can ripen on the counter. Thanks for that bright idea, folks!

    And Carolyn, this recipe? You had me at “tastes faintly of almond paste”!

    Mmmmmm. Salivatory memories of those holiday macaroons 🙂

  • This tart is beautiful and sounds delicious!

  • We’ve been getting wonderful apricots in our CSA but we eat them like candy, no way can I keep enough on hand to make this wonderful sounding tart.

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter? Delicious! It’s such a beautiful color as well.

  • Oh! I didn’t see this before I posted a brown butter cake last week, too (although yours is, by far, much more impressive than mine). I am now a huge fan of the rich flavor imparted by brown butter and these apricots brought to mind your April posts on them. Love the wine-poaching: a wonderful excuse to open a bottle while baking!

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