Wednesday, September 25, 2013
It's been a long (or too short?, depending on how you look at it) summer of dissertation writing, but I'm almost there. My oral defense has now finally been scheduled (meaning I've somehow convinced my thesis chairs that I'm worthy of attempting the last rite of earning a PhD), and now it's just a matter of final details, filling in the blanks in the argumentation, and writing the intro and conclusion. Almoooooost.
This is the first dessert I've made in months. Given my self-imposed thesis hermitude, I've missed so much of summer's great fruit, so I wanted to take advantage of the tail end of stone fruit season before it disappeared altogether. This hazelnut plum tart is sort of a hybrid of a cake-y tart, with a thick, almost linzer-torte-like base and slices of fruit baked in on top. The secret to this "morning" tart is that the dough itself is spiked with orange zest and just ever so subtle of a hint of Turkish coffee and cardamom--enough to give the tart a dark and complex depth without stealing the scene with too much coffee flavor. It's a barely-there roasted spice flavor that helps to enhance the hazelnuts, alongside the brightness that the orange and plums provide.
It's going to be a bit slow-going while I try to reacclimate to "normal" life after my myopically-focused dissertation summer, but hopefully this also means the beginning of many more desserts coming out of the kitchen again.
(P.S. See that teacup in the photos? It's a UC Berkeley Wedgewood set! that I found at the antique fair a few months ago. I first saw these Berkeley Wedgewood place settings when I had dinner at the Chancellor's House as an undergrad, so I'm quite excited by the fact that I now too have a tea cup designed especially for my college alma mater. :D #geekpride)
Read on for recipe....
Morning hazelnut plum tarts
makes six 4-inch tarts
255 g (2 cups + 2 Tbspn) AP flour
80 g (1/2 cup) hazelnuts
1/2 tspn Turkish coffee
1/4 tspn ground cardamom
1 tspn baking powder
1/4 tspn sea salt
2 sticks (1 lb) butter, at room temperature
2 egg yolks
150 g (3/4 cup) sugar
zest of 1 orange
1/2 tspn hazelnut extract
1/2 tspn vanilla extract
1 Tbspn orange juice
4 - 6 small plums
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease the inside of six 4-inch tart molds. Set aside.
2. In a food processor, combine the flour, hazelnuts, Turkish coffee grounds, ground cardamom, baking powder, and salt. Process until the hazelnut is finely ground.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
4. Meanwhile, rub the orange zest into the sugar with your fingertips. Slowly add the sugar into the butter, creaming thoroughly until well-incorporated and aerated. 5. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the hazelnut and vanilla extracts and the orange juice. Beat well.
6. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two stages, beating until combined and until a smooth dough forms.
7. Divide and press the dough into the prepared tart pans. Slice the plums and arrange the slices on top of the dough, pressing down lightly. Sprinkle with a healthy amount of turbinado sugar.
8. Bake the tarts for 25 to 30 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before unmolding from the tart tins.
Tart recipe very loosely adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook.