As the days get shorter, temperatures drop and holidays peek at us from around the corner, it’s likely you’re as eager as we are to throw yourself into full-out baking mode.
But along with the impulse to trawl Pinterest recipes and haul out the KitchenAid comes, let’s be honest, some anxiety. Busy as you are, is it realistic to bake from scratch? Can you really turn out those divine, dinner party-worthy desserts you dream of without consigning yourself a butter-slicked, flour-clouded Lost Weekend?
For answers to these pressing questions, we turned to Canadian food blogger Charmian Christie ofThe Messy Baker.
Baker, cookbook author and food columnist, Christie dispenses a wealth of reassuringly friendly and down-to-earth culinary wisdom. She is all about “approachable, inspiring, from-scratch cooking. Fresh, local ingredients—often from my garden—plenty of herbs and spices, and a bit of imagination are key. Oh, and some full-fat cream doesn’t hurt, either.”
We heartily agree. Christie’s indulgent Apricot and Pistachio Tart mixes the sweet, remember-summer flavor of apricots with buttery pastry, ground pistachios and the rich tang of (full fat) crème fraîche.
And the best part, aside from the aprés-dinner applause you’ll receive? The tart is surprisingly easy to put together. Made with puff pastry (we used store-bought, found in your supermarket freezer section) and a no-cook glaze, the dessert assembles in less than 20 minutes. No KitchenAid required.
Apricot and Pistachio Tart
Prep / inactive time: 20 mins
Cook / active time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Serves: 4 to 6
1 roll puff pastry (commercial or homemade)
½ cup pistachios, divided
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar (plain sugar is okay too)
½ cup apricot jam
2 to 3 tablespoons peach schnapps, orange liqueur or orange juice
1 ½ pounds fresh apricots, pitted and halved (I used 24 small apricots about 1½ inches long)
1 tablespoon cold butter, cut in ¼-inch cubes
Creme fraiche or sour cream
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a rack in the centre of the oven.
2. Roll the dough: Set a sheet of parchment on your work surface and dust lightly with flour. Roll the pastry on the dusted parchment until it forms a rectangle approximately 14 X 12 inches. Carefully transfer the parchment with the pastry on it to a rimmed baking sheet.
3. Prepare the pistachios: In a blender or food processor, grind the ¼ cup of pistachios with ¼ cup of vanilla sugar. Set aside. Roughly chop the remaining ¼ cup pistachios and set aside.
4. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the jam with enough of the schnapps to form a glaze. The amount of liquid will vary with the jam. You want it thin enough to brush over the apricots, but thick enough that it won't all dribble off.
5. Assemble the tart: Spread the pistachio-sugar evenly over the pastry, leaving a 1½-inch border all around. Place the halved apricots on the pistachio-sugar, cut-side down. They should be close but not overlapping. Brush the apricots with the glaze. Dust with the remaining 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar and then sprinkled with chopped pistachios. Dot with butter.
6. Bake: Bake 30 to 45 minutes or until the apricots are soft and the pastry is golden brown. The timing will vary with the size of apricots used. Mine were small, so cooked quickly. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche, if desired.