Nectarine & Cherry Almond Tarts

July 20, 2013 § 19 Comments

Nectarine & Cherry Almond Tarts 7

This humid weather and false hopes of rains by the Weather Gods has been a damper from past couple of weeks. Although there’s a respite from the sultry sun of peak summers, but humidity keeps me low. The continuous sweating and the need of air conditioner refrains me a lot from stepping out. And all that made me more dull and lazy. So, I needed some really good dessert  to cheer me up. And I made these bright colored stone fruit tarts.

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The buttery flaky almond shortcrust pastry,  velvety crème pâtissière, and fragrant and juicy nectarine and vibrantly red cherries, when all married together, made up to these wonderful tarts.

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Here in India, we get fresh seasonal locally produced peaches, plums, cherries and apricots, loads and loads of them, but not the nectarines. And I missed them a lot {from my short stay in US}, their super peachy fragrance, bright red skin…totally totally adorable they are! But recently, I spotted them at a local fruit seller. I was all excited and bought a kilo of them. Came home with a bag full of nectarines and gobbled them up as is within an hour {it was a nectarine and a fruit yogurt meal, I had that afternoon}.

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But I wasn’t satisfied yet! So rushed back to the same fruit seller, hoping they were not sold out completely. And to all my happiness, the fruit seller welcomed me back with a big smile on his face {perhaps, he could read that excitement on my face}. He gave a shout to his helper and the helper ran away disappearing from the scene. Puzzled by the act, I stared at the fruit seller and the seller responded back with a reassuring smile, once again!

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So before I could get anymore restless, the helper came back with a fresh new unopened box full of nectarines. Yay! I said to myself, this time without being looked ecstatic {I didn’t want to give that fruit seller any chance to think that I was mad, though I know he must have figured that out by that time.}.

Nectarine & Cherry Almond Tarts

I already knew, what I was going to make with them, so I thought to perk up these tarts by adding some fresh bright red cherries and some mint leaves, which I also picked from the same vendor. Those beautiful fruits stayed in my fridge for two days, before I eventually got to made these tarts. I had planned to make them on Saturday early morning, before I left for a friend’s wedding outstation. But that last minute planning didn’t help. So when I came back on Sunday afternoon, I had ample time and finally gave these tarts a shot!

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The recipe yielded four of these tarts. I took two to my friend’s, reserving remaining two for myself, to be enjoyed later. Tarts came out really wonderful with a perfect balance of texture and flavors. And do you know, they brought some good luck too, I suppose. It’s been raining here since morning, while I share these thoughts with you :)

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Recipe adapted from BBC Food & Food Network

Ingredients

For the shortcrust pastry:
Heaping 1/3 cup blanched almonds
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chilled butter, cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg white

For crème pâtissière:
250 ml full fat milk
1 vanilla pod, seeds removed and pods retained
3 eggs yolks
60 gm caster sugar
25 gm plain flour

Filling:
2-3 sliced nectarines
1 cup of pitted cherries
2 tbsp clear apricot jam
few mint sprigs
1 tbsp water
crushed almonds, to top

Instructions

  1. For the pastry, preheat the oven to 190 degree C.
  2. Grind the almonds in a food processor to a fine crumb. Add the pastry flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar to the almond in the processor and pulse 5 times to incorporate.
  3. Add butter and oil and pulse for about 20 seconds, until mixture forms small clumps. Add the egg white and pulse an additional 20 to 30 times, until mixture forms a ball, being sure not to over-process.
  4. Dough will hold together, but be slightly sticky. Evenly press dough into the bottom and sides 4  2 1/2-inch tart pans with a detachable bottoms. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until surface of tart is no longer shiny and edges become golden. Remove from oven and let cool.
  5. For the crème patissière, place the milk, vanilla seeds and pods into a large saucepan and warm though.
  6. Place the eggs, sugar and flour in a large mixing bowl and whisk until the color changes and becomes pale.
  7. Gradually add the warm milk and vanilla to the egg mixture, whisk together, then return the mixture to the pan. Cook on a low heat until it the mixture thickens, then pour into a clean bowl. Place a circle of grease proof paper on the mixture, to stop a skin forming.
  8. To assemble the tarts, spoon the crème patissière in a piping bag, and pipe into the pastry cases. Top the tarts with the sliced nectarines and pitted cherries.
  9. Put the apricot jam and water in a small sauce pan and warm it through, so it loosens up and becomes more liquid. Lightly brush the fruit to glaze. Garnish with mint sprigs and crushed almonds.
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