Apricot and Cherry Tart with Marzipan Topping
I once told a crowd that I was preparing a dessert for, that I don’t like sweet things. I didn’t realize it would get such a big laugh – so I guess I should have worked on the delivery of that line a little bit beforehand. But I had to explain that I like things on the tangy and tart side, which is what happens to fresh apricots when baked. While they are great fresh, when cooked, the flesh takes on the puckery characteristics of the skin, which is my favorite part of the fruit (hmm, maybe there’s a market for apricot skins?) – and makes them even more spectacular-tasting in pies and tarts.
While apricots are in season right now here in France, I’m doing my best to use as many of them as possible; skin, flesh, and even the kernels. But I’m not the only one. I had a lovely apricot tart at Chambelland (gluten-free bakery) recently, a treat from the baker, who wanted to know what I thought of it. It was great – and honestly, better than many of the regular apricot tarts around town.
When I was got up to leave, and he asked me my thoughts, I was reaching to think of other things to do to an apricot tart, since we Americans like to do whatever we can to dial things up, adding flavors and textures to a dish, whereas the French seem to like things more singular, and are happy to have a pristine, little apricot tart, just as is.
I’m seated on the fence between both camps, although I do lean a little in the direction of my fellow Americans. So, because he asked, I suggested maybe a hint of cardamom or another spice. (But if he hadn’t asked, I would have thought it was just fine. Which is why it’s not always a good idea to ask people’s opinion – especially mine.)
Meanwhile, back home, I had a big bowl of rosy apricots waiting to be used for something, each with a magnificent reddish blush, because I’d hand-selected them, one-by-one, from the large mountain of fruits at the market the seller kept heaping more apricots upon. I’m nice, but not nice enough to leave all the good ones for someone else.
And then I remembered this tart in my repertoire. It was inspired by a tart from my friend, and expert baker, Dede Wilson, who I met over a decade ago at a culinary conference. We bonded across a table overloaded with smoked fish when we both simultaneously remarked – aloud – about the lack of bagels and cream cheese to go with the smoky delicacies from the deep.
To keep the peace with both my French-half (the one that knows when to stop), and my American one (the one that doesn’t), this tart keeps the flavors of the apricots first and foremost, although I couldn’t help adding some cherries to the tart. And the fragrant almond topping is a spot-on counterpoint to the tangy apricots; the stone fruit flavors come through just fine, but the rich, nutty flavor of the almond paste topping melts down and bakes into all the crevasses between the fruit, holding both elements together. Like I’m doing.
Related Posts and Links
What is the difference between almond paste and marzipan (American Almond Products)
Marzipan vs. Almond Paste (Nigella.com)