Lisa Prince Newman’s Award-Winning Apricot Almond Tart (Courtesy: Jessica Yager)

For the Love of Apricots: Lisa Prince Newman’s Award-Winning Apricot Almond Tart

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SARATOGA, CA —“This beautiful tart pairs a favorite duo, apricots and almonds, in sublime fashion,” says Lisa Prince Newman, author of For the Love of Apricots: Recipes and Memories of the Santa Clara Valley, now in its fifth anniversary edition. In 2018, Lisa prepared this recipe for the Marin County Fair Pie Competition (a highly competitive experience), and won second place. “I’ve made this recipe each June with fresh Blenheim apricots and consider it my finest pastry of the summer.”

Lisa grew up in Saratoga in what was known at the time as The Valley of Heart’s Delight. “The Valley of Heart’s Delight flourished for 100 years, from the California Gold Rush until World War II, with family farms spreading across 150 square miles. Then, as now, the area enjoys coastal cooling through its northern border with the San Francisco Bay and inland warmth from the protective Coast Range Mountains that frame it to the east and west. Blessed with some of the richest topsoil in the world and a nearly year-round growing season, the Valley of Heart’s Delight was unique for its agricultural productivity and fruit orchard production,” she adds.

At one time, California boasted 18,600 apricot orchard acres, but after WWII, agriculture and housing priorities shifted dramatically, with apricots getting the short end of the stick. As of 2017, the Bay Area’s Santa Clara and San Benito counties combined had just 696 acres of apricot orchards remaining, down from their peak of 8,800 acres in the 1940s. “The season for apricots is from early May to August. Approximately 85 percent of the U.S. crop comes from California and 15 percent from Washington — so you can consider them a West Coast treat. Fresh apricots are petite, round fruits that are pale yellow to bright orange in color, depending on the variety and how ripe they are when picked,” says Lisa.

“Apricots are a good source of flavonoids, an antioxidant that helps to protect against inflammation and inflammatory illnesses, along with reducing your risk for  obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The potassium in the fruit can  lower blood pressure levels and can hence prevent heart attacks. And the fiber in the fruit lowers cholesterol levels and prevents heart-related diseases like atherosclerosis.”

Author Lisa Prince Newman in Saratoga

Celebrate the tart sweetness of this treasured fruit with this award-winning recipe:

 

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Ingredients:

Basic pastry dough for single crust:

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling the dough

1-1/2 teaspoons sugar

Generous dash of fine sea salt

1/4 cup ice-cold water

 

Tart Filling:

3/4 cup whole almonds, skin on

9 tablespoons sugar, divided

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup cake flour

2 large eggs, at room temperature

12 medium-size fresh, ripe apricots, halved and pitted

1/2 cup slivered almonds

 

Sweet Apricot Glaze:

1 cup apricot jam

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

Makes 1 10-inch tart.

 

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400°F , and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Prepare the dough:

Mix the butter and flour on low speed with an electric mixer or by hand, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Mix together the sugar, salt and all but 1 tablespoon of the cold water and blend into the flour mixture just until the dough comes together. If the dough seems dry, mix in the remaining water a few drops at a time. Form the dough into a 1-inch thick disk. Wrap disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or until firm.

Place chilled dough on a lightly-floured work surface and sprinkle with a little flour. Gently roll out the dough into a 13-inch round with uniform thickness. Ease the dough into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

Trim away the excess dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang and fold the overhanging dough into the pan to form sturdy sides and a smooth edge. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

Blind bake the shell as follows: Line the unbaked pastry shell with a sheet of foil or parchment cut at least 2 inches larger than the pie pan. Gently ease foil or parchment onto the dough and add dry beans or pie weights, filling up to the top of the pie pan (this helps to reduce shrinkage). Bake until the dough no longer looks raw, 15 to 20 minutes (gently lift the foil to check; the dough will still be pale). Carefully remove the foil and beans. Let cool on the baking sheet.

Prepare the tart filling:

Reduce the oven to 375°F . Spread the almonds on a small baking pan and toast in the oven, stirring once, until lightly browned and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. When cool, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the almonds with 4 tablespoons of the sugar and process, pulsing the machine on and off, until the nuts are finely ground. Add 1 tablespoon of water and process until the mixture comes together.

Using the paddle attachment on an electric mixer, cream butter and remaining sugar until very light and fluffy. Stop the mixer at least once to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix in the almond mixture.

Sift flour into a small bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add 1 egg, half of the flour, then the other egg, and the remaining flour, mixing after each addition until smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Continue mixing on low speed for 5 minutes longer, until the mixture is very fluffy. Spread the almond batter evenly in the tart shell.

Cut each apricot half into a fan, making 1/4-inch vertical cuts, stopping about 1/4-inch from the top of the apricot half so that the pieces remain attached. Arrange apricots skin-side down on top of the batter, starting at the outside edge and working in concentric circles toward the center. The size of the apricots will determine how many you need to cover the tart. Press the apricots gently into the batter. They must be below the top edge of the tart shell to prevent burning during baking.

Next, sprinkle sliced almonds over the tart. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the almond filling is set, about 55 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Remove the sides of the tart pan and, using a metal spatula, slide the tart off the pan bottom and onto a serving plate.

While tart is cooling, prepare the Sweet Apricot Glaze:

Combine 1 cup apricot jam, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/3 cup water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir, breaking down any large pieces of fruit, and let boil for 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Pour the warm glaze through a sieve set over a bowl and cool to room temperature. Brush a thick layer over the top of the tart and let cool. Leftover glaze will keep for a long time in a closed container in the refrigerator. Gently reheat the glaze to liquefy.

For this recipe, see:  http://fortheloveofapricots.com/about/Go to:  http://fortheloveofapricots.com/

For the Love of Apricots: Recipes and Memories of the Santa Clara Valley is a cookbook that will satisfy your love of apricots through more than 60 kitchen-tested recipes beginning with breakfast and ending with cocktails. For the Love of Apricots is also a feast for the eyes as well as the mind. Beautiful food photography blends with images of California’s apricot orchards; from today as well as not so long ago, when fruit orchards covered much of the Santa Clara Valley landscape. Reflections on what the famed Valley of Heart’s Delight was like, how it changed, and what remains, add another dimension to the cookbook. For the Love of Apricots: Recipes and Memories of the Santa Clara Valley is published by Prince of the Orchards Publications. 2020 Food Photography Copyright © 2018, 2020 by Jessica Yager Photography. Orchard Photography Copyright © 2018, 2020 by Eric Larson.

See Lisa’s YouTube video about For The Love of Apricots, Valley of Heart’s Delight & Silicon Valley at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyTZ7dNtJ38. Presently accepting orders for domestic US shipments only.

For information:

https://fortheloveofapricots.com/

http://fortheloveofapricots.com/about/

http://fortheloveofapricots.com/2017/06/the-apricot-capital-of-the-world/

https://www.instagram.com/loveapricots/

https://mailchi.mp/ediblemontereybay.com/06302020#recipe

https://www.ediblemontereybay.com/blog/apricot-heaven-by-lisa-prince-newman

https://www.marinij.com/2018/06/12/celebrating-apricots-and-the-orchards-before-silicon-valley/

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2020/03/20/authors-apricot-obsession-has-roots-in-saratoga/

https://www.facebook.com/chefjimdodge/

Note:

“The apricot is an important fruit for Armenians. Armenian apricot is considered to be one of the best-known symbols of Armenia, after Mount Ararat and pomegranate of course. Even the scientific name of this fruit – Prunus Armeniaca, honors that fact. It is almost sacred; it is even revered. Historically, in the 3rd century BC, Akkadians called the apricot ‘armanu’ (meaning Armenian), and Armenia ‘Armani’. One of the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia, Arameans, called the apricot tree ‘Khazura Armenia’ (the tree of the Armenian apple). After fighting Armenian King Tigranes the Great in the 1st century BC, Roman general Lucullus took several apricot saplings from Armenia to Rome. The Romans planted those saplings in their city and called the fruit the ‘Armenian plum’ (Prunus Armeniaca).” See:

https://m.facebook.com/armenianandmiddleeasterncooking/photos/team-art-appreciates-your-gratitude-encouragement-support-%EF%B8%8F%EF%B8%8Farmenian-apricots-pr/10157525905635794/

Also:  https://www.armgeo.am/en/armenian-apricot/

© 2016-2022 Prince of the Orchards Publication

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