Apricot tartFor me, an apricot tarte, tartlette or danish, is my idea of comfort food especially if it comes out warm from the oven.  In fact I usually am a sucker for anything with apricots, fresh or dried.  It has something to do with an incredibly sweet and tart taste. I like to make my tarte by marinating the apricots in marsala, but you can skip that step if you want.  The tarte will still be a gift from the Gods.  So instead of waxing on about my misspent youth, downing apricots in Aunt Kay’s backyard, I am going to get straight to the point of this post, the makings of a great tarte.  BTW when ever I make apricot tarte, there are NO leftovers, so you might want to consider doubling and  baking two tartes at the same time.

Dough – Prep – 10 minutes, chilling – 1 hour, rolling – 10 minutes, cooking – 10 – 15 minutes

The standard ratio is 1 cup of flour for each stick of butter. This makes enough dough for a pie crust. However, if you want the dough to be more buttery, add a ½ stick of butter. If you want the dough to be flakey, add lard. Butter and water must be cold. Add just enough ice cold water to get the dough and butter to stick, usually about ¼ cup, and a dash of salt. You can add sugar (about a tablespoon) to sweeten the dough. Remember to let the dough rest for 2 hours before using. What I usually do is make enough dough for 4 pies in the food processor, and divide in 4 balls. The other 3 doughs are put in the freezer wrapped in plastic wrap or a plastic bag.

1 cup of sifted unbleached flour
1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter (I use to love Plugra, but now can’t find it at Trader Joe’s) or more
¼ cup of ice water
1 dash (up to 1/8 teaspoon) of salt
1 tablespoon of sugar (optional)

In the food processor with the metal blade, add butter, flour, salt and sugar. Pulse for 10 times. Add water while continuing to pulse until dough starts to firm up as if to make a ball. Flour lightly the dough ball and place in plastic wrap or wax paper. Place in refrigerator to rest.
Set the oven at 350 degrees. Using flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work area and the rolling pin, roll out the dough for ¼ inch thickness and place in a 9 inch pie plate or a ceramic quiche and tarte dish. Trim the edges, and prick the surface of the dough heavily. Line the shell with aluminum foil, or waxed or parchment paper and fill with dried beans to prevent puffing and bake for 10-15 minutes, until it is golden brown. Cool slightly.

Apricots and Custard Filling – Set oven at 375 degrees. Prep time -1 hour for marinating apricots, Rest of the prep -20 minutes, Baking time 40 – 50 minutes

10 large apricots – Blenheims are wonderful. Slice in 1/8ths if the apricots are large. If you have smaller apricots, cut in quarters (you’ll probably need 12 – 15 small apricots. Marinate in sweet wine/sherry such as madeira, or marsala for an hour.

Custard Filling
1 ½ cups of milk or cream depending how rich you want the custard – I usually do a mixture or use 1/2 and 1/2.
1 tsp almond extract
3 egg yolks
1 egg
1/3 cup of sugar
Freshly grated nutmeg

In a small sauce pan, bring milk/cream to a boil and remove immediately from heat. In a bowl beat egg yolks, whole egg, almond extract and slowly add the sugar. Once mixture is light and fluffy gradually beat in the scalded milk/cream combination.

Arrange apricots in the cooked pie shell and cover with custard. Add custard until it covers the apricots. Cook for 40 – 50 minutes until custard sets. Cool down and serve. You can add strawberries and sliced roasted almonds for a garnish.