a recipe for delicious living
Prune and Toasted Almond Tart
(January 10, 2008)
...submit your question to Lauren!
Barbara asked Lauren:
I want to make a tart for company and, since its January, the fruit available
isn't great (and I'm tired of apples and pears!). I was wondering if you
had any suggestions for a tart that would be great-tasting even in winter.
Thanks for your help.
During the winter months, when you want to feature fruit in a tart, using
dried fruit is a great alternative. Pitted prunes, apricots, dates, figs,
etc. are all wonderful in baked desserts. The thing is, though, that you
want to start out with fruit that is as supple as possible, to they won't
get overly hard during baking. In order to soften dried fruit that's very
firm, simply steep it in very hot water, tea or a complementary fruit
juice for 10 to 15 minutes. To make the flavor and texture of any dried
fruit tart really "sing," I like to add toasted nuts, which balance the
sweet chewy texture of the fruit with a nice savory crunch. Here's my
Prune and Toasted Almond Tart, which is one of my personal
Prune and Toasted Almond Tart
Yield: one 10-inch tart; serves 8
If you think that prunes only should be eaten stewed for breakfast,
you'll change your mind with this recipe! This chewy and candied tart
oozes with incredible flavor and texture. In fact, it's my favorite tart
in the world! In the supermarket, prunes are packaged in several ways:
in a box, a carton, a foil pouch or in a vacuum-packed can labeled "premium"
prunes. These are very plump, moist and most appropriate for this recipe
(I prefer the "Sunsweet" brand). If premium prunes are not available,
the next best choice are those in foil pouches; although smaller, they
are also very moist. But if only regular dried prunes are available, plump
them as directed in this recipe. For best texture and flavor, this tart
should be served the same day it's baked. When assembling, be sure to
line the bottom of your tart pan with parchment paper and lightly butter
the tart ring or you'll be in trouble when you try to release the candied
tart from the pan.
- Parchment paper
- 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom
For the Tart Shell
- 1 recipe
Favorite Pie Pastry
- Melted butter, for tart pan
- Waterproofing glaze: 1 tablespoon apricot jam or preserves mixed with 1
scant teaspoon water
For the Filling
- 3 cups extra-moist dried pitted prunes (vacuum-packed or foil packed),
sliced in half if large or left whole if small
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small dice
- 1 cup heavy cream (preferably not ultra-pasteurized)
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ scant teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoons amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur)
- 2 cups sliced blanched almonds, toasted (toast nuts on a shallow baking sheet in a
preheated 350°F oven until light golden, about 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally
For Accompaniment: Whipped cream
1) To prepare the pastry shell: Mix and
chill dough as
directed in recipe. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit
the bottom of tart pan. Place the parchment round in tart pan and lightly
brush paper and inside rim of pan with melted butter. Roll out dough and
line pan as directed but only lightly prick the surface--without going
completely through dough. Then partially bake and cool pastry shell as
directed. Melt jam and water over low heat and, if using preserves, puree
them or push them through a medium-mesh wire sieve. Brush the interior
of the pastry shell with the glaze and allow it to set for a few minutes
before assembling the tart.
2) To plump regular prunes: If the extra-moist prunes
are not available, pour simmering water, tea or a complementary fruit
juice over regular large pitted prunes (to cover) and let the fruit steep
until supple, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain, pat dry, slice and proceed.
3) To fill the tart and set up for baking: Line a shallow
baking sheet with aluminum foil (dull side up). Place sheet on the center
rack of the oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Place prunes overlapping
in the prepared pastry crust and dot with butter. In a medium-sized bowl,
whisk cream with sugar, almond extract and amaretto until sugar dissolves.
Fold in toasted almonds and pour the almond-cream mixture on top of prunes,
spreading almonds to cover prunes.
4) To bake: Carefully lift the filled tart shell (by
its sides, not from the bottom) and place it on the baking sheet in the
hot oven. Bake the tart for 35 to 40 minutes. (Don't worry if the filling
bubbles over a bit while baking, the baking sheet will catch any spills.)
When done, the filling of should be visibly bubbling and a very rich golden
brown color and the sugar and cream should have caramelized nicely. Once
the correct color is achieved, even if some of the filling appears to
be a bit liquid, remove the tart from the oven anyway since those spots
will firm once cool.
5) To cool and remove the tart the ring: Let tart cool
on a wire rack for 30 minutes. When tart is just warm but no longer hot,
carefully remove tart ring by first inserting the tip of a sharp knife
between the rim of pastry and the fluted tart ring; this will release
any candied filling from the rim. Lift tart by the sides and, using the
fingers of both hands, push up gently the bottom disc of the tart pan,
releasing the tart ring. Place tart on its bottom disc on the wire rack
to cool thoroughly. (Immediately wash or soak the tart ring for easier
cleaning. And if using a black steel pan, dry it meticulously or it will
6) To serve: Before serving, remove tart from the bottom
disc carefully by inserting a very thin cookie sheet or a large, flat
turning spatula between the tart and the disc. Once the bottom of the
tart is fully released from the disc, gently push the tart onto a serving
plate. Serve sliced into wedges, adorned with a dollop of whipped cream.
This tart needs no refrigeration.
Timing is Everything:
Variation with Apricots
- The almonds can be
toasted in advance, covered and left at room temperature for 2 days
or frozen in a heavy-duty plastic bag for a month. No need to refresh
them since they will bake again in the tart.
Best-quality, dried pitted whole apricots (or a combination of apricots
and prunes) may be substituted for prunes. To soften apricots, cover them
with water, bring to a simmer and cook gently (uncovered) for 10 to 15 minutes.
Drain and pat dry. If combining prunes and apricots, alternate them when
overlapping the fruit in the pastry shell.
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Lauren is a Larchmont resident. She is happily married and
blessed with three wonderful children.