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Tarts to celebrate the Western harvest.

Capitalize on the West's seasonal bounty of fruits and nuts with one of these harvest tarts. The ingredients are gracefully balanced to give each dessert a distinctive flavor, color, and texture.

Roasted hazelnuts and almonds in a honey batter top glazed apricots in a buttery crust. Offer pieces with whipped cream to add to taste.

Sugar-poached cranberries presented in an almond crust create a delicate combination of crunchy-crisp pastry and tangy glazed fruit. Serve with a cold custard sauce flavored with orange liqueur.

Caramel-coated pecans fill a ground-nut crust to make an ultrarich version of pecan pie. Drizzle warm chocolate sauce over the top before serving.

Grapefruit on a thin pastry shell finishes a meal on a light, refreshing note. Grapefruit peel scattered over the top creates a bright garnish.

Apricot Nut Tart

1 cup (6 oz.) dried apricots

2/3 cup dessert wine such as orange muscat or late-harvest Johannisberg Riesling, or orange juice

1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

2/3 cup honey

1 cup whole hazelnuts

1 cup blanched almonds

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Butter pastry (recipe follows)

Whipped cream (optional)

In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan, combine apricots, 1/3 cup wine, orange peel, and 2 tablespoons honey. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat, occasionally stirring gently, until apricots are soft and liquid is absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, place hazelnuts and almonds in 2 separate 9-inch pie or cake pans. Bake in a 350|degrees~ oven until nuts are golden, about 10 minutes; shake occasionally. Place hazelnuts in a towel; rub to remove as much skin as possible. Discard skin.

In a bowl, mix eggs, remaining wine and honey, vanilla, and butter until blended. Stir in nuts.

Press butter pastry over bottom and sides of an 11-inch tart pan with removable rim. Distribute apricots evenly in pastry. Pour nut mixture over fruit, arranging nuts evenly over top.

Bake tart on the bottom rack of a 350|degrees~ oven until golden brown all over, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack. If making ahead, cover tart when cool and store at room temperature up to a day. To serve, remove pan rim. Cut the tart into wedges; offer whipped cream to add to taste. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Per serving: 432 cal.; 8.4 g protein; 26 g fat (7.7 g sat.); 45 g carbo.; 120 mg sodium; 97 mg chol.

Butter pastry. In a food processor or a bowl, mix 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup sugar. Add 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine, cut into small pieces; whirl or rub with your fingers until mixture forms fine crumbs. Add 1 large egg yolk; whirl or mix with a fork until dough holds together.

Cranberry Tart

4 cups (1 1/3 packages, 12-oz. size) fresh or frozen cranberries

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 cup raspberry jam

Almond crust (recipe follows)

Candied peel (recipe follows)

Custard sauce (optional, recipe follows)

In a 3- to 4-quart pan over low heat, cook cranberries and sugar until cranberries are translucent and begin to collapse, about 30 minutes (45 minutes if frozen); occasionally shake pan gently to mix.

Set a strainer over a bowl. Pour berries into strainer. Let stand until cool. Return juice to pan and blend with cornstarch. Stirring, bring to rolling boil on high heat. Add jam and stir until it melts. Add cranberries and mix gently; pour into crust.

Mound candied peel in center of tart. Let stand at room temperature until filling is firm enough to hold its shape when cut, about 2 hours, or up to a day (if making ahead, loosely cover tart when cool).

Cut into wedges. Offer custard sauce to pour over individual servings. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Per serving: 405 cal.; 3.6 g protein; 17 g fat (7.9 g sat.); 63 g carbo.; 122 mg sodium; 76 mg chol.

Almond crust. In a food processor or blender, whirl 3/4 cup unblanched almonds until finely ground. If using a blender, transfer ground nuts to a bowl. To almonds, add 1 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup (3/8 lb.) butter or margarine (at room temperature), 3/4 cup sugar, 2 large egg yolks, 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa, and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.

Whirl or rub with fingers until dough holds together. Press dough firmly into a 12-inch tart pan with removable rim, making bottom crust slightly thicker than sides.

Bake in a 350|degrees~ oven until richly browned, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and gently remove pan rim, then gently slide a long spatula or knife between pan and crust to loosen crust, keeping pastry in place on pan and being careful not to break the fragile rim. Let cool.

Candied peel. With a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler, thinly pare into 1 or several long, wide strips the peel (orange part only) from 1 medium-size orange.

In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan, cover the orange peel generously with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Drain. Repeat this step. Then add to peel 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water. Boil rapidly, uncovered, until about 1/2 cup liquid remains; shake pan frequently. Lift peel from syrup with a slotted spoon and drain. If making ahead, twirl the peel into a loose mound, cover, and let stand at room temperature up to a day. Discard syrup.

Custard sauce. In a 2- to 3-quart pan on medium heat, warm 1 1/2 cups milk until steaming. In a bowl, whisk together 3 large egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar. Whisk 1/2 cup milk with yolk mixture; return to pan.

Cook on low heat, stirring, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon in a thin layer, about 30 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3 tablespoons orange-flavor liqueur (optional). Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

Per tablespoon: 31 cal.; 1 g protein; 1.4 g fat (0.6 g sat.); 3.4 g carbo.; 10 mg sodium; 43 mg chol.

Pecan Caramel Tart

1 3/4 cups pecan halves

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

About 7 tablespoons whipping cream

Baked nut crust (recipe follows)

Chocolate sauce (recipe follows)

Place nuts in a 9-inch pie or cake pan. Bake in a 350|degrees~ oven until golden beneath skin, 8 to 10 minutes; shake occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan, stir together water and sugar. Cook over medium-low heat, without stirring, until water turns clear, 12 to 15 minutes. Wash sugar crystals from pan sides with a wet brush as mixture boils. Increase heat to high and boil, uncovered, until syrup turns golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove from heat and gradually stir in 7 tablespoons cream (it will splatter) until blended. Sauce should have consistency of corn syrup. If too thick, add a little more cream; if too thin, stir over low heat until thicker.

Gently mix nuts into warm caramel. Pour into crust and push nuts to arrange evenly; let cool. Drizzle warm chocolate sauce over tart. Cool until chocolate is firm. If making ahead, cover and store at room temperature up to 2 days. Cut into wedges. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Per serving: 427 cal.; 5.9 g protein; 36 g fat (8.4 g sat.); 25 g carbo.; 66 mg sodium; 28 mg chol.

Baked nut crust. Whirl 2 cups walnuts in a blender or food processor until finely ground but not powdery; remove from blender. Add 1/2 cup blanched almonds and 3 tablespoons sugar to blender or processor and whirl until powdery.

In a bowl, beat 6 tablespoons (3/8 lb.) butter or margarine until fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and the ground nuts; mix just until the dough holds together.

Press dough over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch tart pan with removable rim. Bake in a 350|degrees~ oven until crust is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Use warm or cool.

Chocolate sauce. In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan, stir 2 tablespoons each whipping cream and chopped semisweet chocolate over low heat just until smooth. Use sauce warm.

Winter Grapefruit Tart

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

6 tablespoons butter or margarine, in chunks

Fruit topping (recipe follows)

In a food processor or with your fingers, whirl or rub together flour, sugar, and butter until the mixture holds together. Pat compactly in a 9-inch cake pan with removable rim. Bake in a 300|degrees~ oven until tart turns a rich golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.

While the pastry is warm, pour syrup from topping over it. If making ahead, cover and chill up to a day.

Arrange grapefruit segments from the topping neatly on pastry, and then scatter peel from the topping over the fruit. Remove the pan rim and put the tart on a platter; it can stand up to 3 hours. Cut the tart into wedges. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 320 cal.; 3 g protein; 12 g fat (7.2 g sat.); 48 g carbo.; 119 mg sodium; 31 mg chol.

Fruit topping. With a vegetable peeler, cut yellow part only from 1 large (1 lb.) grapefruit. Ream juice from fruit; set aside. Cut peel into very thin slivers. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan, cover peel with water; bring to a boil. Drain off water; repeat step.

Add to peel 2 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/4 cup water. Boil, uncovered, on high heat, watching closely, until liquid is almost gone and syrup forms big, shiny bubbles, about 10 minutes. At once add reserved juice; set aside.

Using a sharp knife, cut peel and white membrane from 2 more large (2 lb. total) grapefruit and discard. Into a strainer set over a bowl, cut segments free from internal membrane. Squeeze juice from membrane into bowl; discard membrane.

Combine juice and 1/4 cup orange-flavor liqueur with the peel mixture in pan. Boil, uncovered, over high heat, stirring until reduced to 1/2 cup, 12 to 15 minutes. Pour syrup through a strainer; use syrup warm, or reheat if made ahead. Spread peel out on a plate. Cover and chill fruit and peel separately up to a day.
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Title Annotation:Special Issue: Best of the Holidays; recipes
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Previous Article:Three lean but glamorous desserts.
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