The egg went AWOL while I made a plum almond tart.
The egg rolled under a bunch of herbs, apparently under the impression we were playing hide and seek. It didn’t make a sound while I whizzed the almond mixture together, or while I pressed it into a tart base. It was only after the tart became gloriously golden and puffed in the oven that the egg peeked around some parsley leaves with a discreet Jeeves-like cough.
Oh hello baker, did you want me 40 minutes ago?
We didn’t take the almond tart to a picnic (I made some muffins instead, wholemeal, with banana-date jam, chocolate chips, peanut butter). But it seemed a pity to have a tart go to waste, so with suitably gallic shrugs, we dug into it that night.
The tart was … surprisingly good. Loose, moist, messy crumbs clinging to sweet, tart, squishy plums. A marriage of shortbread and almond torte. A concoction of ground roasted almonds, raw sugar, cocoa nibs, cardamom, rose water and lime zest.
I’m not advocating that you leave the egg out of pastry from now on, but I may have found a new favourite crumble topping.
I made the tart again last night with pluots, and remembered to add the egg (woot!). The resulting tart looked much more like an almond torte or a simple frangipane, and still had those deep dimples where the plums / pluots sank into the almond mixture. Work colleagues ate all of it within 2-3 hours – so I don’t have a photo of the real tart (and didn’t get a slice myself, hrmph), but I think that means the tart was a success.
Such is the magic of an Alice Medrich recipe.
The tart is one of her recipes from Pure Dessert, with minor additions or changes:
– added the ground seed of 3-4 green cardamom pods to the ground almonds;
– using raw sugar instead;
– sprinkled cocoa nibs over the almond mixture;
– added lime zest, and added a lime-rose water-sugar syrup.
My additions were probably gilding the lily, because the real stars were the play between the flavours, scents, colours and textures of roasted almonds and plums. We have a new favourite tart.
Almond plum tart
1/2 cup (2.5 oz or about 70 grams) roasted almonds, not blanched
1/2 cup (3.5 oz or about 100 grams) raw sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp amaretto liqueur OR 1/4 tsp almond extract
About 3/4 cup (3.5 oz or 100 grams) plain / AP flour (note, the recipe gives the option of using wholemeal pastry flour, but I’ve already used non-blanched almonds so stuck with plain flour)
Rounded 1/4 tsp baking powder
Seeds from 3-4 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 large egg
3 tbsp (about 45 grams) cold butter, cut into chunks, plus extra for greasing the pan
Rounded 1 tbsp cocoa nibs
4 to 6 tart plums or pluots
Zest from 1 large-ish lime
Juice from 1/2 lime
1-2 tbsp rose water (depending on how much you like rose water)
2 tbsp icing powdered sugar for dusting
* the original recipe uses white sugar instead of raw sugar; it also does not include cardamom seeds, cocoa nibs, lime zest and juice, or rose water
1. Slice the plums or pluots in quarters, sprinkle over the lime zest, mix and stand aside. Stir together lime juice, rose water, and icing sugar.
2. Preheat oven to 375F (190C) or 350F (175C) in a convection oven. Liberally grease tart pan with butter (the recipe suggests a 9” tart pan, I used a long rectangular one).
3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine almonds, raw sugar, cardamom seeds, salt and almond extract, and process until the nuts are pulverized. Add flour and baking powder and pulse to combine. Add egg and butter. Pulse until mixture is damp, uniform and begins to clump around the blade. (You can do all of this by hand, but the food processor makes it really easy and quick)
4. Scrape into the tart pan and spread evenly into the pan bottom.
5. Press pieces of plums or pluots lightly into dough, skin side down or with one cut side down. Sprinkle cocoa nibs around the plums slices.
6. Bake in preheated oven until the almond base is puffed and lightly golden, about 35 minutes (about 25 – 30 minutes convection).
7. Pour over lime juice mixture. Put back into the oven for about 5 minutes or until the tart is a deeper golden.