Craving Grandma's Apricot Tart

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I have been craving my grandmother's tart ever since I saw the first apricots at the store a few weeks ago. Well, actually I crave it all year long and while it is quite good with quality canned apricots, there is of course nothing like fresh, velvety and fragrant ones. We don't really need a reason to indulge in our cravings. By definition, giving into them is giving into reckless abandon of our senses and indulging in what brings us comfort and joy, as temporary as it is.

When Jennifer announced this month Sugar High Friday, my brain started racing towards many a childhood favorites (and made me wonder if I did not live in a state of perpetual craving), before the only obvious dessert was Mamie Paulette's apricot tart. It would also give me the opportunity to spend some time with my memories of watching her make the dough and filling countless times with the same love and care.

Then a few days ago, Ivonne wrote about her Nonna Pia and shared fond memories of her life and approach to cooking. I think that Paulette and Pia would have been great friends if given the chance. They both had six children and both knew how to turn the simplest ingredients into scrumptious dishes. I left Ivonne a comment mentionning Paulette's apricot tart and she emailed me suggesting that I post about it and share my memories. She also threatened to bug me until I did...! Well, here it is my friend!

I have talked about my grandmother many times before, always mentionning her apple or apricot tarts and always making something else. Her tarts were so simple, yet so absolutely delicious that she knew to keep us happy by always having one ready. My grandparents' house has always been the place of gathering throughout the week and especially on sundays. Four out of six children ended up living within close proximity and thus started the sunday tradition of "coffee and tart" around three in the afternoon meaning if you cannot come for lunch, try to make it for dessert. Even as a teenager and young adult, I would always try to make it for tart...especially if a paper or thesis was calling my name!
There was something so soothing and comforting in seating down with her and my grandfather to sip coffee, talk about the family, the neighbors, their garden, and eat pie.
There is even a funny anedocte associated with her apricot tart. At some point her eyesight got worse and worse, and she often made two pies, freezing one in case she would be too tired one weekend to make a fresh one. We were all gathered at the dinner table one sunday evening and when dessert time came, she asked me to go fetch the tart warming up in the oven (you know, so that the ice cream on top melts faster!). I came back trying to hold the tears of laughers streaming down my face...she had mistakingly put a quiche in the oven and not the tart.... ! Everytime I make quiche or tart, I think about that day and immediately look up at the sky and whisper "Love you Grandma".


Apricot Tart

Serves 6-8 (I made individual one for pictures)

Crust:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup chilled (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in pieces
2 Tbs ice water
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

Place flour and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and process for a few seconds. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the ice water then the egg yolk, processing just until the dough holds together. Do not process for more than 30 seconds.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Place on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten, and form into a disc. Wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.
Preheat oven to 350F and blind bake the tart shells: roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, lay into tart shell, cover with parchement paper or foil, pour dry beans or pie weights on top and bake fro 15 minutes. Let cool before proceeding with the apricots.

Filling:

8 to 10 apricots, halved, pitts removed
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup creme fraiche (sour cream can be substituted)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
slivered almonds

Whisk the sugar and the eggs until pale. Slowly add the milk and creme fraiche and whick until combined. Add the extracts and ground almonds and whisk one more time. Slice the apricots, lay them in the bottom of the tart. Slowly pour the batter on top. Sprinkle some slivered almonds on top and bake until the custard is set and the tart is golden brown.

35 comments:

Audrey said...

Mmmh, this tart really looks fabulous ! Childhood memories always taste best :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

It is indeed very beautiful and looks ever so good! A nice walk down memory lane...

The Cooking Ninja said...

This looks super good. I just made Apricot Tatin :)

the pastry princess said...

wow this looks truly spectacular! and i love the idea of creme fraiche in the filling with the apricots

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Love the two way street of that memory so that it works for the tart and the quiche!
Gorgeous tart!

Ivonne said...

You know, Helene, after reading this I realize that blessings cannot be measured monetarily, but rather in the blessings of our family and friends.

Your grandmother sounds delightful and what a blessing this memory of her is!

I'm doing the happy dance because you made such a beautiful tart! I cannot wait to try it!

Cheryl said...

You truely are the queen of the cutest little desserts. This is another one that is just beautiful and delicious looking.

Guillemette said...

tsss meme une tarte aux abricots tu arrives a la faire toute fine toute joli (ben oui d'habitude je trouve ca pas beau ^^) ! qu'est-ce qu'elle me fait envie !
dis, est-ce que tu peux me donner ton mail je n'arrive pas a le retrouver, et j'ai qch a te demander ??!

Meeta said...

Oh that is such a beautiful memory of your grandma. The tart looks absolutely great Helene!

Kelly-Jane said...

They look beautiful! I love your story about the quiche too (big smile) :)

veron said...

I'll be craving it too as yummy as that looks!

Hilda said...

Merci d'être passée me voir! Je suis une fan invétérée même si ça fait des mois que je joue la timide en visitant sans rien dire.
Et je vais essayer ces petites tartelettes aux abricots dès demain.
Pray tell, what spectacular baking feat must I perform to be a daring baker?

Nora B. said...

Wonderful post, Helene. Makes me miss my grandparents very much.

Cynthia said...

Oh you daring baker! :)

bradi said...

Thanks for the recipe. I made it today for my mother-in-law's first night visit. It was a hit! It's a keeper. . . .

Peabody said...

Oh this sounds super. I do very little with apricots, this is definitely being printed out!

Anh said...

Helen, this is beautiful! Both the stories and the tart are fantastic!

Anonymous said...

quelle bonne mémoire et quelle belle histoire. C'est fou ce que ta grand mère à marqué son entourage. Mais quelle belle réalisation tu en as fait. Merci encore pour elle

Inne said...

That looks beautiful and delicious Helene. Aren't grandmothers and their sweet things just the best? I'm lucky to still have my gran, and she made me her wonderful rice pudding last weekend. Yum.

Mallow said...

That looks wonderful - apricots are some of my favorite things and I have never tried cooking with them. What a beautiful post!

Ellie said...

Helen, this tart is absolutely adorable! And I'm sure that the memory of your grandmother helped every bite to taste sweeter :)

Big Boys Oven said...

Looks exclusive, must taste wonderful.

Aimée said...

Adorable tart. I salute you with my cup of tea.

Rebecca Bourke said...

It's so great you have a recipe with such fond memories atttatched :) It looks spectacular, I'm sure your grandmother would be proud.

ParisBreakfasts said...

I want to go to your Grandmother's housie...

Blame It on Paris said...

Me, too, ParisBreakfasts. That sounded so wonderful, thank you for inviting us to step into your memories a little bit. The tarte looks delicious.

sher said...

I'm craving that very much right now. Lovely pictures!

Eva said...

Oh I love your tartelettes! The name of your blog is truly well chosen!

Frangesca said...

I really like your blog, it's so yummy and pretty! Incredible recipes!
I'll read your blog again often!


I know a website that is called Blogging to the Bank!
Do you want to check it out?
http://bizz2006.bttb1.hop.clickbank.net/

Alex said...

Hello there! I've tried making this tart twice now and sadly, the custard never sets properly, no matter how long I bake it.

It almost seems as if the juices from the fruit curdle it and turn it into a soft cottage cheesy mess. Am I doing something wrong? I'm using semi-skimmed milk but full fat creme fraiche.

Tartelette said...

HEy Aex. I really don't know what to say. I made it yesterday without a probem. I make sure that if I use canned apricots that they are thoroughly dry before I put them in the tart. If you use fresh, maybe poach them a little before you use them, drain them well. They contain so much moisture fresh, that when baked the juices flow like crazy. Poaching for a few minutes would help.
I hope you have better luck next time.

Alex said...

Thank you very much for the tip :)
I've been using very fresh apricots, as they're in season here and just too juicy and irresistible. Mind you, the custard not setting doesn't detract from the lovely flavours! We've wolfed down the tart both times.

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