Thursday, March 10, 2011


At the end of the winter, we tend to bring out bags and jars of ingredients from the pantry to create our meals. This recipe combines elements of some orange cream puffs I made last month and a dried apricot, dried cherry, and orange breakfast bread I made last week.
This, and the Onion and Fennel Tart, are posted in this week's food52 contest.

Makes 2 8” Tarts

Tart Crust;
1/3 c almonds (with skin or blanched)
1 c all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
3 T sugar
4 T (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into 1” pieces
1 egg
¼ tsp almond extract
1-2 T cold water

Grind almonds to fine  in food processor. Add flour, salt and sugar and process again. Pulse in butter until it forms coarse crumbs. Add egg and pulse until it forms large crumbs. Pulse in almond extract and enough cold water to just bind it together.  Flatten ball, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Almond, Orange, and Apricot Filling and Topping
6 oz (about 1 c) chopped dried apricots
¼ c orange or regular vodka
¼ c fresh orange juice (or use ½ c orange juice if you like)
Zest from ½ orange, about ½ T
2 c orange curd(recipe follows, or can be purchased. To make it you will need zest of one orange, juice of 3 oranges,  1 T lemon or tangerine juice, 3 eggs, 1 egg yolk, 1/3 c sugar, a pinch of salt and 5 T butter )
3 T  candied orange zest (recipe follows, or can be purchased. To make you will need 2 oranges, 1 ½ tsp salt, 1 c sugar, and ½ c superfine or caster sugar)
1 1/2c almonds (with skin or blanched), chopped roughly by hand
3 T apple or apricot jelly
2 T orange marmalade
3 T sugar

Soak apricots and orange zest in vodka and orange juice.

Prepare candied orange zest: Thoroughly wash 2 oranges. Trim off the tops and bottoms, and then score from top to bottom, about 1” apart. Peel away these sections, and if the white part is very thick, scrape some of it away with the edge of a spoon, leaving about 1/8” – ¼”. Put in a bowl, and cover with 2 c cool water and 1 ½ tsp salt. Let soak for at least an hour, and for several more  if you don’t care for bitterness. Rinse, put in a saucepan, cover with cool water, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes and then drain them.  Cut into ¼” wide strips. Put orange strips back in pan with 1 c sugar and ¼ c water.  Bring to a simmer and simmer for another 30 minutes. Put ½ cup superfine (caster) sugar on a plate. Dredge strips in small batches, coating with the sugar entirely. Cool on waxed paper, and store in an airtight jar.

Prepare orange curd: Zest an orange. Put strained juice of 3 oranges with 1T lemon or tangerine juice in a small saucepan and reduce to ½ c.  Cool to room temperature. Beat 3 eggs, 1 egg yolk, 1/3 c sugar, reduced orange juice and a pinch of salt in the top of  a double boiler (or in a saucepan if you’re daring), and heat, stirring. When it is warm, beat in 5 T butter, a bit at a time, allowing each addition to blend in before adding the next. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (it will thicken as it cools). Add 2 or 3 drops of vanilla, and orange zest. Refrigerate, but serve at room temperature (when refrigerated, it may harden up a bit, but will soften up at room temperature). Can be frozen.

Make topping: over medium heat, cook ½ c chopped almonds with 3T sugar until sugar melts and then turns amber. Mix together to coat all almonds with melted sugar and remove from heat. Chop candied orange zest into ½” pieces.

Preheat oven to 400˚

Roll out tart crust: If sticky, dust lightly with flour. Roll out between two pieces of plastic wrap. Press gently into two 8” tart pans and freeze for 10 minutes.

Drain apricots (reserve juice and this evening make yourself a nice little cocktail with it).
Toss with 1 c chopped almonds.

Mix apple or apricot jelly and orange marmalade, and microwave 30 seconds to melt slightly. Spread mixture evenly over tart crusts. Top with apricots and almond mixture.
Put back in the freezer for 5 minutes. Bake for 25 minutes until crust is browned nicely.

Cool on rack until tarts are room temperature.  If they are warm, the orange curd will melt. Spread orange curd evenly on top of tart. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Top with candied almonds and candied orange zest.

Alternatively, when tarts come from oven let cool for about 15 minutes. Cut and serve warm with a tablespoon or so of orange curd on the side (let it melt), and  topped with candied almonds and candied orange zest.

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