There’s a crispness in the air. Can you feel it? Here in mountainous Utah, where we get four distinct seasons each year, it comes in the form of chillier mornings, afternoon rain bursts with occasional rainbows, and the arrival of stone fruit.
Namely, plums, peaches, nectarines and apricots.
As the resident chef of one of Sur La Table’s numerous cooking stores, I cook – and teach – using the best of each season’s harvest. And that means autumn’s cooking class menus currently include grilling peaches until caramelized grill marks appear, cooking down plums to make spice-tinged chutneys, churning nectarines into from-scratch ice cream, and baking apricots nestled in a golden, puffed frangipane tart.
That apricot tart has been my go-to recipe of late. What makes it really outstanding, besides those ripe apricots, are the ground almond-laden filling and the ridiculously flaky crust, made with Sur La Table’s butter of choice and nationwide partner, Kerrygold Unsalted Butter.
Tasted on its own, the golden butter is rich and unctuous at the outset, followed by grassy end notes. It’s easy to imagine the happy cows – grazing in never-ending Irish green pastures – that produced the milk to make this delicious butter.
Beyond crust, the butter adds a richness to fish dishes, melts gorgeously as a compound herb butter atop seared steak, and packs a deep nuttiness when browned for pan sauces. Kerrygold butter has become my butter of choice.
Chef Lesli Sommerdorf received her culinary degree from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. Before joining Sur La Table as a resident chef, she was a food writer, restaurant reviewer and editor at The San Francisco Chronicle and The Salt Lake Tribune newspapers. Sommerdorf lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her photojournalist husband, young daughter and son. One of her most memorable moments, to date (besides the birth of her two children) is meeting two of her culinary icons, Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, on their book tour in 1999.
Apricot-Almond Tart with Cointreau Cream
Yield: 1 (10-inch) tart, 6-8 servings
1 recipe Flaky Pie Dough (recipe follows)
Unbleached all-purpose flour, for dusting
- 3/4 cup blanched almonds
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) Kerrygold Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large whole egg
- 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 firm yet ripe apricots, halved and pitted
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean extract or paste
- About 2 tablespoons Cointreau, or other orange liqueur
- 1/2 cup apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon water
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and position an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven.
Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll chilled pastry dough into a circle with a 14-inch diameter. Fit dough circle into a 10-inch tart pan, being careful not to stretch out the dough too thin. Bring the dough up the sides of the pan and trim any excess dough. Transfer to the freezer and let chill, about 15 minutes.
To prepare the frangipane: In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, finely grind the almonds and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the ground almonds, egg, almond extract, flour and salt and beat until smooth. Spread evenly over the bottom of the chilled tart shell.
Place each apricot half, cut side down, around the edge of the tart, leaving a space between each half and place one half in center of tart. Transfer the tart to the oven to bake until the tart shell is golden brown and the frangipane is puffed and brown, 35 to 40 minutes.
To prepare Cointreau cream: While the tart is baking, place the cream and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until the mixture visibly thickens and begins to hold a shape. Beat in the Cointreau and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To prepare apricot glaze: While the tart is baking, melt apricot jam with water in a small saucepan over medium heat. After the tart is finished baking, use a silicone pastry brush to lightly coat the top of the tart with glaze. Cool tart to room temperature before slicing.
To serve: Slice tart into wedges and serve with Cointreau cream on the side.
Flaky Pie Dough
Yield: 1 (10-inch) crust
- 1-1/4 cups (6-1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) Kerrygold Unsalted Butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup ice water
To prepare the dough: Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender, two knives or your fingers, cut or rub the butter into the flour mixture until the butter pieces are the size of peas. Sprinkle ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, over the flour mixture. Stir and fluff the flour mixture with a fork until shaggy clumps form. Pick up the large clumps and squeeze to test for moisture. If clumps hold together, transfer them to a work surface and continue adding tablespoons of ice water and stirring until all the dough passes the squeeze test.
Gather the clumps of dough together on a work surface. If the butter feels soft, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before proceeding. If the butter still feels cold, knead the dough gently 4 or 5 times. If dough falls apart, return it to the mixing bowl and sprinkle teaspoons of ice water and mix with a fork until dough holds together when squeezed.
Flatten the dough into a disk about 6 inches wide, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.