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Monday, September 5, 2011

Plum is the New Peach

The finished product.
The summer is winding down.  I've made all manner of tarts and crumbles this summer.  Blueberries, raspberries, and all the rest of the berries have made numerous appearances.  Peaches have played a starring role in jam and on the grill.  But what about plums?

The crust...
I love plums.  I love how when you bite into one that is really juicy the skin offers a little resistance and just a burst of tartness.  I also like to cook with plums, although they are often forgotten in favor of their sexier relatives.

The other day I was in the market and they had beautiful Italian prune plums.  I bought a box with the perfect recipe in mind:  Ina's plum tart.  The beauty of this recipe is that it's delicious with regular black plums but I knew that with the smaller prune plums it would be out of this world.

I was right.  First of all, the tart was beautiful because the smaller plums make the flower pattern more intricate.  Second of all, this is a recipe that is so easy and looks far more complicated so you can impress everyone with your fancy looking tart.  Finally, it was a nice showcase for an often overlooked fruit.  Let's face it, everyone oohs and ahhs over peaches but never are plums quite the same kind of show stopper.

The intricate flower pattern...

And just before going into the oven.

Well, move over peaches because the plums are in the house.

Recipe:  Plum Tart
(Barefoot Contessa Parties!, 2001)


2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
1 egg yolk
2 pounds firm, ripe Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly.

Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch springform or tart pan. Arrange the plums in the pan, skin side down, to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.

Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums. Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it's lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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