Love and Apricots
By Chef Deb Traylor
I wanted to start this post with how much I adore apricots, but then I realized I use the words “love/adore/favorite” in every post. Is it really possible to have strong feelings towards every produce item? Can one person have so many favorites? Yes, and yes! If I write about how wonderful every fruit or vegetable is… will I dilute the message? I don’t think so; it’s all about the season!
The truth is, there’s a big difference between food picked locally and served at its peak, and what we buy at the grocery stores. While we’re fortunate that we can now buy most foods anytime of the year, sometimes this endless supply of produce means we have to sacrifice flavor for ready availability.
There’s something really special about the deep flavor of local, seasonal produce that shows up for just a short time every year. Which brings me to apricots. I adore apricots! The season is relatively short in Colorado. It’s only five weeks long IF we’ve had a milder spring and some years we have no apricots at all (and those are sad years). Luckily this year, I received 15 pounds of apricots from a family member’s tree in Grand Junction, (Thank you Grandma Dorothy!). We poured them out on a table, ate a few dozen right there, and then began thinking of how to use up these gorgeous golden globes of goodness.
So in honor of this lovely little fruit, Ginger and Baker would like to share with you a few of our favorite apricot recipes. Some of the recipes are easy and maybe some you’ve never tried before, but we hope you’ll give them a try. We’ll be sharing lots of apricot love over the next week or two. I hope you don’t mind. The season is short one, and you will have 47 weeks without apricots until the season arrives once again!
First, we played around with a few ideas for apricot tarts this month. We started out with the idea of grilling the apricots for our Apricot Mascarpone Tart, adding little bits of thyme blossoms and honey from our own hives. Boy was it delicious! We did notice one small problem with grilled apricots, and I wanted to pass the experience on to you. Grilled apricots are so amazingly delicious. We loved the slight caramelization the fruit got when placed on the grill. We loved the way it accented the tart sweetness. The only problem? Well, grilled apricots continue to cook even after you pull them off the grill. We had about 37 seconds (I am exaggerating…maybe it was 5 minutes) before the fruit began to soften and turn slightly brown. It was still delicious but we knew it wouldn’t hold for very long. I tell you this because, number one, I want you to know…we make mistakes. Number two; it takes a lot of work to make a photo look gorgeous. Number three; even perfectionists don’t get it right the first time. And lastly, there’s always someone who is happy to eat your mistakes! We’ve adapted the recipe to include macerating the fruit rather than grilling, and we think it’s a winner. But if you have an opportunity where you know your tart will be made, assembled and eaten right away, you really should try grilling your apricots. Or just pop some apricots on the grill, then top with a spoonful of mascarpone and a drizzle of honey and serve warm!
Apricot and Mascarpone Tart with Local Honey & Thyme Blossoms
- 1 baked tart shell, see recipe below
- 1 lb. fresh apricots, sliced into 8 wedges each
- 2-3 Tbsp. local honey
- 1 tsp. thyme blossoms (optional)
- juice of half a lemon
- 2 (8-ounce) tubs mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract of vanilla bean paste
- pinch of sea salt
Prepare the tart shell, chill, bake and begin to cool before beginning the rest of the recipe.
Combine sliced apricots, lemon juice, half the thyme blossoms, and one tablespoon of honey in a bowl and let rest for 1 hour.
While the apricots are macerating, prepare filling. Combine mascarpone, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt with a mixer and beat until smooth. It should be very thick, like peanut butter.
Carefully spread mascarpone mixture over tart and chill for 30 minutes or until it’s ready to serve.
Before serving, arrange apricots over mascarpone filling, Feel free to arrange them perfectly or pile them randomly over the tart (both will be beautiful) and pour a tablespoon or two of the juice from the bowl over the apricots. Drizzle the remaining honey over the tart and sprinkle the thyme blossoms to finish. Serve immediately.
Tart Shell Recipe
Dough Recipe Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Makes enough for one 9-inch tart crust
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg, beaten
Combine sugar and salt in a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the sugar and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. Add the flour and pulse 5 or 6 times, then add 1/2 of the egg, pulse, then add the rest of the egg, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough clumps up.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gently knead just to incorporate any dry ingredients. Shape in a disc, cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
Use nonstick spray to coat a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured surface until it’s 1 inch larger then the tart pan. Press together any cracks. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.
Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray nonstick spray on the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and press the sprayed side tightly against the crust. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon or spatula. Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer until golden brown. Cool on a rack.
Do ahead: The dough can be wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.