This photo pretty much sums up my weekend… beautiful, relaxing, and a tad bit decadent. Saturday morning I hit the Grand-Lake farmer’s market and loaded up on all kinds of edible treasures I didn’t really need but simply couldn’t resist: cherries, strawberries, apricots, eggs, herbs, green kale, garlic, turnips, lavender honey, and a loaf of mushroom-potato flatbread. Just as I was wondering what I was going to do with all that food, my friend Yvonne called and asked if I was free to get together. Sure! I said. C’mon over for brunch tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I had the rest of Saturday all to myself with no plans whatsoever. I finished graduate school five weeks ago and I’m still not quite accustomed to the stillness of my school-free weekends. But I’m working hard at adjusting: I spent the rest of the day on the couch with a book. I’m halfway through a riveting piece of historical fiction, The Help, which fills me with utter dismay one moment and unbounded hope the next. It’s hard to believe that less than fifty years ago folks in Mississippi were building separate bathrooms—outdoors—for their African American housekeepers because they thought it unsanitary to share a toilet. And yet it’s painfully, painfully true.
Saturday night I had the pleasure of attending a dinner party with some of my Wharton classmates at our friend Prasad’s house in Fremont. You’ve never seen such a fabulous home! It must be 5000 square feet and his lovely wife Risha has filled it with some incredible pieces of artwork and sculpture. But in traditional Indian style, dinner wasn’t served until after 10pm, so it was a late night. I stumbled into my apartment (which suddenly felt very much like a shoebox) well past midnight.
This morning, by some small miracle, I got myself out of bed for an early run and then put together a pretty fantastic spread with Saturday’s farmer’s market bounty. Yvonne and I feasted at my breakfast counter and got lost in conversation for a good couple of hours. But when she left, I realized I had forgotten the apricots: There they were still in a paper bag tucked behind some cookbooks on the counter.
And so I thumbed through the June issue of Martha Stewart Living, and lo and behold… there was a recipe for apricots in all their luscious, golden glory: Almond-Apricot Tart.
I think I’m legal in printing the recipe here because I’ve modified it just a bit. The original version yielded too much filling, so I pared it down. I also think whipped cream needs a little sugar and vanilla when it’s paired with uncooked, unsweetened fruit, so I added both. But you can leave it unsweetened if you prefer.
Still, you should pick up a copy of the magazine, not only for this recipe but because it’s filled with all kinds of other fun things this month: Some lovely photography of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, some great recipes for summertime libations, and a fun piece on collecting antique citrus juicers. I know we all love to hate Martha, but she really does publish a beautiful magazine.
Make the Crust
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup blanched almonds, toasted*
4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 large egg yolk
Pinch of salt
Pulse the almonds and flour in a food processor and set aside. Beat butter and confectioner’s sugar with a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add flour mixture, yolk, and the salt. Mix until the dough comes together, then turn out into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using the heel of your hand or the bottom of a lightly greased drinking glass, press the dough over the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Refrigerate one hour.
Make the Filling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons Myers rum
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325F. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the yolks, corn syrup, and brown sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the browned butter, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all the browned solids. Add the rum, cream and vanilla and continue to beat until smooth.
Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and pour the filling into it. Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is just barely set in the middle, about 40 minutes. Allow to cool on a rack.
Prepare the Topping
6 medium firm-ripe apricots, pitted and sliced thinly
2 cups heavy cream, cold
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Arrange the apricots in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge, until the surface of the tart filling is covered. Beat the cold cream with the sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Serve each wedge of the tart with a dollop of whipped cream. (Note, the apricots will start to turn brown within 30 minutes, so you’ll want to assemble this tart as close to serving time as possible. If you must make it a few hours ahead, brush the apricots with melted, strained apricot jelly to “seal” them, then cover with plastic wrap.)
*To toast the almonds, spread them in a single layer over a cookie sheet and toast in a 325F oven for 5-10 minutes, stirring them with a wooden spoon every two minutes. Alternatively, you can toss them gently in a hot, un-greased cast iron skillet over a medium-high flame. Be careful not to let them burn. Allow to cool completely before using.