Vail Daily Column: Glazed blueberry tart a ‘work of art’
High Country Baking
Vail CO Colorado
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.
Talk about eye candy – In the Land of Food, this glazed blueberry tart is exactly that. The shiny, deep-purple blueberries captured in a pretty tart shell are instantly appealing … a work of art in the dessert arena.
It’s hard to believe something this pretty is so easy to make. Instead of the usual time-consuming bake in the oven, the blueberries remain close to their natural state. They’re simply bathed in a glaze that releases their juices and elevates their flavor, scooped into a prebaked tart shell, and refrigerated. Nothin’to it.
You have several choices when it comes to the crust: If you’re in a hurry or serving this dessert after a casual meal, a crumb crust is a fine choice. But, if the tart will end a fancier dinner, I recommend a crust with better taste and texture. After all, it’s half the dessert. I like to use the nut crust (below) or a cream cheese crust. Whichever crust you choose, make sure it contains sugar; a sweet crust provides the best contrast with the tart berries. Though the dessert can stand alone, I top it with a bit of sweetened whipped cream when I serve it.
The tart is best on the day it’s made. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator.
Glazed Blueberry Tart
Bake in a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom
A Graham Cracker Crumb Crust of your choice
Nut Tart Dough
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of finely ground almonds or almond flour
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
A pinch of salt
1 cup of unsalted butter (two sticks), cold
1 egg white
1/4 cup of cool water
1 generous (slightly more) teaspoon of unflavored gelatin
1 cup of seedless raspberry jam (I use Smuckers; don’t use a sugar-free jam)
1/8 teaspoon of salt
5-6 cups of fresh blueberries, (depending on the capacity of your tart pan), picked over, rinsed and drained
Sweetened whipped cream, optional
Make the tart shell dough: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, with a rack in the center position and grease the tart pan. Place the flour, ground almonds or almond flour, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to mix well. Dice the cold butter and, with the motor running, add it to the processor. Process just until the dough forms a rough ball on the top of the processor blade. Remove it, gently press it into a six-inch disc, wrap it in plastic or waxed paper and refrigerate it until it is easy to handle (fifteen to thirty minutes). Either (1) roll the dough into a circle about eleven inches in diameter and transfer it to the tart pan, pressing it gently into the bottom and sides or (2) break the dough into pieces and press it evenly into the pan and up the sides. (I find it easiest to press the dough into the pan’s sides first, and then press it into the bottom.) Run a knife blade over the top of the pan to trim the dough so it is even with the pan sides. Freeze the dough-lined pan for about fifteen minutes, until the dough is firm.
Prebake the tart shell: Bake the tart shell until it is set (check after about ten minutes) but not browned. If it puffs up while baking, prick it with a fork to let the air escape. Remove it from the oven to a cooling rack. Place the egg white in a small bowl and whisk until it is frothy. Brush the frothed white all over the bottom and sides of the hot tart shell. This forms a barrier between the tart shell and the filling, preventing the shell from getting soft and soggy. Let the tart shell cool completely.
Make the blueberry filling: Pour the water into a small, microwavable bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on top, and set it aside for two minutes to soften. Place the bowl in the microwave and cook at full power for 15 seconds. Check it; you want the gelatin to dissolve completely but you DON’T want the mixture to boil. If necessary, put it back in the microwave for very short bursts of power until the gelatin is totally dissolved. Set this aside. Melt the seedless raspberry jam in a large saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat. Stir until it is completely smooth and melted. Add the water/gelatin and stir until combined. Remove from the heat, add the salt and the blueberries and stir gently with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until all the berries are well coated. Pour the contents of the pan into the cooled tart shell and refrigerate for at least two hours, until it’s very well chilled. Serve the tart with sweetened whipped cream (optional).
The filling is a variation of one in Shirley Corriher’s Bakewise.
Vera Dawson, a chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of Colorado Mountain College, 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 Dawson with your comments about this column and/or your baking questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.