Friday, July 1, 2016

European Plum Tart

Recipe from The Martha Stewart Cookbook
Husband-Tested in Alice’s Kitchen
Makes one 7-inch tart

Our local food co-op, Lost River Market & Deli, holds a Talent Auction every year as a fundraiser.  I offered 4 homemade pies as my talent to be auctioned off.  Our good friend, Phil, won the bid.  As it happens, he has a little home orchard that includes a Purple Heart Plum Tree.  So, for his fourth and last pie, he brought over some of these jewel-like sweet plums and I put them in this fabulous tart. Other pies that I made for Phil’s winning bid were:  Sour Cream Apple Pie with Streusel Topping and Cinnamon, Lemon Luscious Pie, and Tartan Rhubarb Pie.

4 to 5 medium-size plums (I used 6 or 7 small Purple Heart Plums, a European/Japanese hybrid.)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
½ half of a Perfect Pie Dough, partially baked**
1 large egg
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup heavy cream
3-4 Tablespoons Cognac (4 Tablespoons makes this quite boozy)
¼ cup Vanilla Sugar**

Preheat oven to 375F. 
**To partially bake the Perfect Pie Dough, prick the tart shell pastry with a fork and carefully line the pastry with foil, pressing it into the corners. Add on top of the foil, dried beans, uncooked rice or pie weights to cover the bottom of the tart shell.  Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue to bake just until the pastry dried out and turns a light golden color for a partially baked shell, about 5 minutes or so.  Let it cool completely on a wire rack before proceeding.
Pit the plums and either half or quarter the plums, Then, rub the outside of each plum with approximately 1 teaspoon softened butter. Arrange the plums as desired in the partially baked tart shell. Bake for 15 minutes to soften the fruit.
While the tart is baking, prepare the custard.  Beat the egg and sugar until thick and pale yellow.  Add the flour and mix until smooth.  Beat in the cream and Cognac.  Spoon the custard (It will be liquid.) around the bottom of the softened plums and sprinkle the tart with the vanilla sugar.  Return the tart to the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the custard is puffed and golden.  Let the tart cool before serving.  (The custard will fall as it cools.)

Vanilla Sugar:
This keeps indefinitely and adds a wonderfully elusive flavor to many desserts.

1 vanilla bean
3 cups sugar

Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a sharp knife and put it in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.  Pour in the sugar, put on the lid and set aside for a week before using.  Shake the jar from time to time.  Replenish the jar with more sugar as you use it up.
Here are the plums just before I popped them into the oven
for a quick roast before adding the custard.
A slice of the European Plum Tart 
I used the recipe and made a pie (instead of a tart) and, as you can see,
it turned out perfectly.
I used the pastry scraps to make a tiny tasty tartlet.

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