Vera Dawson
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VAIL CO, Colorado

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March 12, 2013
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High Country Baking column: Keep this tart recipe on hand

Editor's note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn't. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.

While not monogamous, my relationship with this almond apricot tart is long-term and enduring. I've been making it for more than 20 years and it never fails to please me.Overall, the tastes are sweet and light and the textures are soft and chewy. With Amaretto-spiked whipped cream as an accompaniment, it makes a lovely dessert.

The ease of preparing this pretty pastry is another reason I consistently return to it. The tart dough comes together quickly in a food processor and can be patted into the tart pan if you don't want to take out your rolling pin. And, the filling, literally, is whisked together in five minutes. There are few tart recipes that rival its simplicity.

Almond Apricot Tart

Make in a 7 or 8 inch tart pan with a removable bottom

Double the recipe for a 9- or 10-inch tart pan

Ingredients

Crust

1 cup of bleached all-purpose flour (spoon and level)

1/4 cup of confectioner's sugar

A pinch of salt

1/2 generous teaspoon of vanilla

8 tablespoons (one stick) of unsalted butter, cold

Filling

1/2 cup of granulated sugar, preferably Baker's

3 tablespoons of apricot preserves

1/2 cup of heavy cream

2 tablespoons of Amaretto liqueur

3/4 cup of sliced almonds

Make and prebake the crust: Place a heavy cookie sheet on the middle rack of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add them, with the vanilla, to the processor. Pulse to mix and then process ONLY until the dough starts to form a ball on top of the processor's blade. Remove the dough and use it immediately or, if it is too soft to work with, pat it into a disc and refrigerate or freeze it until it is easy to handle. Roll the dough into an eleven-inch circle, line the tart pan with it, and freeze or refrigerate it until it is quite firm (10-15 minutes). Line the dough with non-stick foil or lightly greased regular foil, (non-stick or greased side against the dough). Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place the pan on the cookie sheet and bake until the dough is firm. Start checking after about 20 minutes. Gently remove the pie weights and foil liner, return the pan to the oven and continue baking until the shell's bottom is lightly golden and set. Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely. (You can make and prebake the crust several hours before filling and baking the tart; cover the cooled crust and store at room temperature.)

Fill the prebaked crust: Place a heavy cookie sheet on the oven's center rack and preheat it to 400 degrees. Place the sugar and apricot preserves in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine them well. (If your preserves are cold or cool, warm them in the microwave until soft; they'll combine with the sugar more easily when softened.) Add the cream and the Amaretto and whisk again. Add one-fourth cup of the sliced almonds and stir to distribute them evenly in the filling. Sprinkle a second one-fourth cup of the sliced almond evenly over the bottom of the prebaked tart shell. Pour the filling into the shell, filling it to about one-fourth of an inch from the top. Sprinkle the remaining one-fourth cup of sliced almonds evenly over the top of the filling.

Bake the tart: Place the tart on the cookie sheet and bake for about 22-30 minutes, until the filling is light golden. Expect the filling to bubble throughout the time that tart is in the oven (it is caramelizing). During the baking, you may need to cover the edges of the prebaked crust with strips of aluminum foil to prevent them from overbrowning. Remove the tart from the oven to a cooling rack. If the filling has bubbled over the crust anywhere, while the tart is still warm, gently insert a toothpick between the crust and the pan sides to assure that the crust doesn't stick to the pan once it is fully cooled. Cool completely and serve. If you're not serving the cooled tart immediately, store it, lightly covered in the refrigerator. Cut it with a thin-bladed, sharp knife, and serve it at room temperature, topped with a dollop of Amaretto-flavored whipped cream.

This is a variation of a Silver Palate Recipe.

Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC's Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Mar 12, 2013 04:13PM Published Mar 12, 2013 04:10PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.