High Country Baking: Make an almond apricot tart
High Country Baking
1 cup bleached all-purpose flour (spoon and level)
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
A pinch of salt
1/2 generous teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup superfine granulated sugar
3 tablespoons thick apricot preserves
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
3/4 cup sliced almonds
While not monogamous, my relationship with this almond apricot tart is long-term and enduring. I’ve been making it for over 20 years and it never fails to please me. A tender shortbread crust cradles a caramel filling, subtly flavored by apricot preserves and heavily studded with sliced almonds. 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.
Make in a 7 or 8 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Double the recipe for a 9 or 10 inch tart pan.
1. 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 to 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.
2. 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 1/4 cup of the sliced almonds and stir to distribute them evenly in the filling. Sprinkle a second 1/4 cup of the sliced almond evenly over the bottom of the prebaked tart shell. Pour the filling into the shell, filling it to about 1/4- inch from the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4-cup of sliced almonds evenly over the top of the filling.
3. Bake the tart: Place the tart on the heated 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.
4. 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.
High altitudes 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 that make baking in the mountains successful. Vera Dawson is a high-altitude baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks, available at The Bookworm in Edwards. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.