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Archive for Wednesday, July 12, 2000

Plums make tart summer dessert

Kitchen & Garden

July 12, 2000

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The most congested area in a grocery story in July is the vicinity of the fruit bins in the produce section. I've found myself having to wait my turn, bag in hand, to squeeze the peaches and apricots or sort through the cherries.

Many of the local peaches were hurt by frost this spring, but most of the imported offerings in the supermarket have looked and tasted good.

Gwyn Mellinger grew up in Emporia and Salina. She graduated from Mills College, in Oakland, Calif., and has master's degrees from Emporia State and Kansas University. She lives with her husband Mike, stepson Cassady and four dogs in rural Douglas County, where she gardens. When she's not writing about foods and gardening, Gwyn Mellinger is teaching journalism at Baker University.

With a few exceptions, we have not struck out this season in selecting good fresh fruit to buy. This was a disappointing year for strawberries, in my opinion, as I think I made it through the entire season without tasting what I consider a thoroughly ripened, full-flavored strawberry.

We tend to like our fresh fruit in pies and cobblers, or over vanilla ice cream. I'm not one to try to improve on natural flavors, so if I bake fruit into a dessert, I use less sugar than a recipe requests.

Sometimes the end result is more tart than sweet, but I generally prefer it that way.

I noticed that local stores have good stocks of fresh plums and was pleased to see in the July issue of Bon Appt a recipe for a plum tart with almond flavoring. Plums frequently are overlooked as a baking fruit, and this is our loss. This dessert is slightly on the sweet side but not overly so, and it's a nice respite from peach pie and cobbler this time of year.

The recipe calls for using an 11-inch tart pan. You also can make this dessert in a 9-inch springform pan. Either way, it's easier to use pie weights or dried beans to hold down the crust than to keep sticking your head in the oven to jab the crust with a fork, as the recipe suggests.

Plum Tart with Marzipan Crumble



Crust

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 tablespoons chilled whipping cream

1 large egg yolk

Crumble

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (packed) almond paste (about 5 ounces)

1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Filling

2 1/4 pounds plums (about 12), halved, pitted and thinly sliced with skins on

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch

For crust: Blend first four ingredients in food processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cream and yolk. Blend, using on/off turns, until dough comes together. Press over bottom and up sides of 11-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Pierce all over with fork. Chill at least 2 hours but not more than 1 day.

Preheat oven to 400 Fahrenheit. Bake crust until golden, pressing with back of fork every 5 minutes if crust bubbles, about 25 minutes. Transfer crust to rack; cool. Reduce oven temperature to 375.

For crumble: Blend flour, almond paste and sugar in processor until almond paste is finely ground. Add butter and blend, using on/off turns, until coarse crumbs form. Transfer crumble to bowl; mix in almonds.

For filling: Combine all ingredients in medium bowl; toss to blend well. Sprinkle 3/4 cup crumble over cooled crust. Top with plums. Sprinkle with remaining crumble.

Bake tart until filling bubbles thickly and top is golden, about 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Push up pan bottom to release tart. Cool. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

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