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June 12, 2008

An Abundance of Apricots

Apricottart1
 

Roasted Apricot Cinnamon Sugar Tartlets

Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to make. Sometimes I suffer from a surfeit of suggestions, unable to settle on just one idea, other times it's the dreaded blank slate, when everything seems either too simple or too difficult or too not my style or not my flavors and I end up with my refrigerator and bookcases in disarray and still-clean bowls lining the counter.

That's why I enjoy spring and summer so much, because it's so easy to find inspiration. I just walk down the street to market and see what's come in today: crates of dark red cherries, baskets of plump strawberries, bushels of rosy nectarines. Sometimes I'll finger the exotica: yellow-green papayas, pebbly-skinned lychees, flower bulb-like mangosteens, and ponder whether this is the week I'll try something with them.

This week, however, my eye was caught by a more familiar fruit: the blushing gold apricots. Apricots are the delicate little cousins of peaches and I feel like they often get treated that way: they're not as boldly, sensually curved, and eaten fresh their flavor can be subtler, tarter, unlike the sparkling sweetness of peaches.

I've talked before about holding a peach: it's a gorgeously brazen coquette that fills your hands and boldly tempts you. Holding an apricot, on the other hand, is like holding a robin's egg or a seashell, rare and subtle; you've got to hold it close to find its secrets. When apricots are not fully ripe they can be firm and tart and not the most flavorful. At their peak, though, their flesh becomes lushly yielding, and their flavor takes on a rich, honeyed tone. Cooking is where apricots really shine, which is why you see apricot jam so often: when heated apricots blossom into a wonderful ambrosia, as dreamily sweet as a summer Sunday afternoon.

Apricots have such a short season as well, so very often the apricots you find at market will not be perfectly ripe. I left mine in a paper bag for a few days until they softened and starting scenting the kitchen. I wanted something simple and quick to showcase the fruit, and a puff pastry tart immediately sprang to mind. 

Apricottart3

Almond Apricot Frangipane Tartlets

Now, before you start protesting that puff pastry does not fall under the category of "simple and quick", let me direct you to my blitz puff recipe which you really can make on a whim. It take less than half an hour to put together and once you've given it a good chill, you're ready to start cranking out the tartlets.

I kept it as breezily easy as possible: apricot slices, a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar, and instant summer dessert! With a scoop of ice cream, nothing could be simpler for a warm evening. If you're looking to up the ante, a layer of frangipane spread on the pastry, topped with apricots and a sprinkling of almonds, and you've got yourself a luxe little patisserie-worthy pastry.

Naturally, this will work wonderfully with many of summer's fruits, from peaches to plums. You could also add berries on top after they come out of the oven. In any case, the crisp, buttery puff pastry makes the ideal bed for honeyed, ripe fruit. I love how the pastry puffs up so neatly round the fruit every time, like the perfect picture frame. When you add the frangipane, its creamy nuttiness elevates the clean sweetness of the fruit even more.

I'm actually very happy with this week's creation as it embodies many of my ideals about pastry: simple, seasonal, and richly rewarding for the effort one puts in. After all, isn't summer all about minimizing work and maximizing pleasure?

Apricottart2  
Apricot Tartlets

makes about 12 3"x5" tartlets

7 to 8 apricots

1 recipe Blitz Puff Pastry

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

apricot jam for glaze


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

Halve and pit the apricots. Slice them thinly. Sort them them groups of 6 or 7 slices - this will make assembling the tarts faster.

Divide the puff pastry in half and return one piece to the refrigerator to keep it cold. Roll out the other half on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4" thick (not too thin).

Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into roughly 3 1/2" x 5 1/5" rectangles. You can make the tartlets any size you want; square, round, etc. If you make one big tart, though, you may have to adjust the baking time and watch for the outer edges baking before the center.

If you want to use frangipane(see recipe below) on these tartlets, spread a thin layer on top of the puff pastry, leaving a 1/2" border as the frangipane will puff and spread in the oven.

Arrange 6 to 7 apricot slices on each rectangle. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over each tartlet.

Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. The puff pastry should puff up and turn golden brown. Place tartlets on a wire rack and brush lightly with apricot jam. Let cool slightly before serving.

Frangipane (adapted from Nick Malgieri's How to Bake)

3/4 cup blanched almonds

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 eggs

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup flour

Place almonds and sugar in a food processor. Process until almonds are very fine.

Add almond extract and one of the eggs and process until smooth.

Add the butter and process until fully combined and the mixture is smooth.

Add in the egg and process just until incorporated.

Add in the flour and process just until incorporated.

You can use the frangipane immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


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I love apricots and cinnamon! Your tartlets look amazing and ever so delicious...

Cheers,

Rosa

Anita, these tarts look luscious! Simple things are often the best.

Growing up, my grandparents had an apricot tree that produced thousands of apricots every year. I miss that tree- especially when I see recipes like this one!

anita, these are so lovely!

Yes, this is a wonderful time of year for inspiration. I have been on a cherry kick as of late.
Your apricot tart is bursting with color and I would guess with taste as well.

I'm the same way, I can spend hours leafing through cookbooks or scanning blogs and not figure out what to make, but put a basket of cherries in front of me and I'm ready to go!

This looks beautiful! I haven't bought apricots yet this season. Time for me to get on the ball!

The Photographs Make your desserts very appealing! I was wondering what kind of camera do you use? Awsome!

Ooh I just bought some apricots the other day (.99 lb), too bad they're already gone! heehee

They look sooo good....oh i wihs apricots are in season here; i'd really like to sink my teeth into one..and then use the remaining to make these luscious tarts!

They look sooo good....oh i wihs apricots are in season here; i'd really like to sink my teeth into one..and then use the remaining to make these luscious tarts!

Oh, Anita, I hear you. Sometimes I feel like making many different things, but I'm either out of ingredients or out of time.
These tartlets look adorable!

Nice tart...

Oh my! That looks scrumptious!

i just love the fruits we have at the farmers' markets now, from apriums, pluots, nectarines to berries ...

ur apricot frangipane tartlets look lovely and is perfect for a light and refreshing summer dessert. :D

I recently made fresh apricot muffins. Now, I want to try this elegant tart. I love to bake with springtime fruit.

I've never seen fresh apricots in the stores here. I'll just enjoy your photos :)

What in inspiring photo! That looks lovely!

oh my. these look amazing!

hi anita!! wow you've been up to a lot lately...can't say i've been doing too much other than working. everything looks beautiful, as usual! hope all is well and sorry i've been out of touch. oh and i got the canon rebel today :)

Hi, new reader here! I saw your tartlets this morning and immediately decided that that was what I was going to do with that bag of apricots I've had lying around for days (I love eating them fresh, but the nearby market sells them in big batches and I can only eat so many at a time).

I was able to make the tartlets from scratch between the end of the work day and dinner time. They were an ideal dessert, light and tasty, and I couldn't believe how simple they were to make (I made the version without frangipane).

Also, thank you for the blitz puff pastry recipe: I'd never made puff pastry myself before, because I found it intimidating, but your recipe was both fast and efficient (although I haven't quite nailed it yet).

Thanks for the inspiration!

I have never baked with apricots before. These look so yummy! I love desserts with fruit during the summer months!

that looks beautiful! how perfectly made. i really do love fruit tarts and tartlets but have no faith in myself to make them

What a great way to use apricots at this time of year! The tarts look simply gorgeous!

This is a gorgeous tart! All your desserts look divine.
I have a question though about the frangipane recipe, does it require only 1 tablespoon of butter? I never came across a frangipane that has that little butter.

These look lovely. I love almonds with apricots.
How about almonds, apricots and chocolate -- that would be the ultimate combo for me.

Faith

Thank's for the easy frangipane recipe, looks so simple and beautiful, have to try it soon :)

Anita, your desserts are so elegant and absolutely gorgeous. I love these apricot tarts.

Frangipane is such a nice addition here. And the use of the blitz puff is fantastic. Summer is here!

Hi All,
Thanks for the sweet comments! I am really pleased with this recipe as it is so simple to do, yet you can feel like a professional pastry chef!

The more I *know* you, the more I want to meet you to hug you! I have been abusing my grandma's quick puff pastry recipe this week just because it goes so well with all the summer fruits aroud. Very similar to yours (can't reinvent the pastry wheel everyday now can we?!!) and a easy comfort fix in the summer!

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