Lauren Groveman a recipe for delicious living

Prune and Toasted Almond Tart

(January 10, 2008)
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Barbara asked Lauren:

Dear 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.

Lauren says...

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 favorites. Enjoy!

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Prune and Toasted Almond Tart

Yield: one 10-inch tart; serves 8

prune and almond tart

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.

    SpeciaL Equipment:

  • Parchment paper
  • 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom
    Ingredients:

    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 to redistribute)


  • 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 rust.)

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:

  • Lauren Logo 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.
Variation with Apricots

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 Groveman recipes have been featured in many national magazines and local newspapers. Her books "The I love to Cook Book: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking for Family and Friends" and "Lauren Groveman's Kitchen, Nurturing Food for Family and Friends" are available through Amazon.com.

For in depth information on Lauren Groveman as a writer, teacher, TV & radio host, as well as her recipes and cooking tips visit her website at www.laurengroveman.com

Lauren is a Larchmont resident. She is happily married and blessed with three wonderful children.