It took me three years to get this one right. Every August, when the apricots are absolutely perfect, sweet and juicy, I’d pull this recipe out and try it again. But only for those few weeks. Beautiful seasonal fruit is fleeting in these parts and this just isn’t as good with mediocre apricots. I’d make it once, but probably two or three times, and make cursory notes that never made sense a year later. I’d stare at the computer screen wondering what the hell I meant by “too poufy” or “iffy meh” and what I was supposed to do about it. I have trouble remembering what I was thinking 12 minutes ago, much less 12 months. All my attempts were good yet I always felt it could be better. And then just as quickly as they came, the apricots were gone and the weather started to cool. Next year, maybe next year.
This year though, I did it. Sometimes it only takes 3 years and six or seven tries to get something right. This recipe stemmed from an idea I had while making a very classic pear tart. Sweet, tender poached pears fanned about in a almond rich dough known as “frangipane” was something I couldn’t wait to make in culinary school. Next to croquembouche, it was high on my list of French pastry school obsessions. And I do make a very good pear tart but I started thinking … what if I switched the almond to pistachio? That could be interesting. And apricots go really well with pistachios so what if I changed those too? I’m sure I’m not the first to think of this and certainly not the last because this is good. Really really good.
The pistachios are much more interesting than almonds and the apricots add just the right jammy, tart counterpoint that keeps the whole thing from becoming too sweet, a common problem with the traditional version. Now that it’s gone, I wish I had kept an extra piece for myself. Or not shared at all. What was I thinking?
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: WORTH THE WAIT. This brings just the right razzle dazzle if you’re trying to impress. You’ll be amazed at how much flavor is packed into that 9” tart ring. Now here’s the thing. Depending on where you live, I’d say you’ve got a week or two left of the good apricots. Hurry up and make this or suffer the 12 month consequences.
On this blog four years ago: Quick Spicy Garlic Pickles
On this blog three years ago: Ginger Peach Hand Pies
On this blog two years ago: Vinegary Cole Slaw
On this blog one year ago: Bastille Day Sunday Lunch – Figgy BBQ Sauce
and a Classic Pear Frangipane Tart
APRICOT PISTACHIO FRANGIPANE TART
Makes 1 9” tart, serving 8
A few easy tricks will ensure success as frangipane tends to soufflé or “get poufy” during baking. When making the frangipane in the food processor, mix until just blended, taking care not to incorporate too much air. It also helps if the tart crust is very cold, frozen even, and the frangipane is cold as well. And don’t worry if once the frangipane is in the pan it looks a little skimpy. It will fill out during baking.
for the tart dough:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 ½ Tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes
1 large egg yolk
1 Tablespoon cold water
for the pistachio frangipane:
4 ounces shelled raw unsalted pistachios
¼ cup sugar
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (½ stick)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
7-8 ripe, fresh apricots, pitted and halved
1 Tablespoon mild honey
1 Tablespoon chopped pistachios
- For the tart dough: add the flour, salt and sugar to the workbowl of a food processor and pulse once or twice to blend.
- Add the butter and pulse several times until it is the size of small peas.
- Blend the egg yolk and water, add to the workbowl with the flour/butter mixture and process until blended.
- Turn the pastry dough out onto a work surface and knead just until all the dry bits are incorporated.
- Pat into a flat disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate ½ hour.
- For the pistachio frangipane: Wipe the food processor workbowl out, add the pistachios, sugar and salt; process the mixture until very fine. The sound will change when the pistachios are well ground.
- To the workbowl, add the butter, egg and flour and process until combined, scraping the workbowl once or twice. Transfer to a small bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.
- Form the tart: remove the tart dough from the fridge and on a well-floured surface, roll to about an 11” circle, flouring the top of the dough if it sticks to the pin. Keep the dough moving to ensure it doesn’t stick to the work surface.
- Roll the dough up on the pin and carefully unroll into a 9” tart pan with a removable bottom, easing the dough into the corners.
- Pinch off the dough along the pan edge, patching any thin spots if necessary.
- Freeze at least one hour, over overnight, until firm.
- Bake: Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the bottom position.
- Place the frozen tart pan on a sheetpan and spread the frangipane evenly across the bottom. The tart should only be filled just under halfway as it will soufflé up during baking.
- Place the apricot halves, cut side down, on the frangipane.
- Drizzle the apricots with honey and sprinkle the chopped pistachios over the top.
- Bake until golden brown and the apricots are tender, about 40-45 minutes.