blood orange tart

This blood orange tart is full of velvety blood orange curd, crispy citrus crust, luscious piles of vanilla whipped cream – and candied orange slices, because we fancy. We’ve taken the step past sprinkles (though, to be honest, if you put sprinkles on this I would not be upset) all the way to real fruits garnishing our tarts. It’s almost spring! We’re doing fine!

In all honesty, I spend what seems like my entire week in a lab, playing with fossils that are way too old for me – a casual 300 million years too old, and messing around (a.k.a. carefully using because I’m terrified to break) microscopes that are fancier than any piece of equipment I’ve ever touched. It’s almost spring! I’m doing fine!

I’m sure you’re being your best self right now. Maybe you had one too many mimosas for brunch last weekend, but it is citrus season, and we can still pretend that Vitamin C prevents all nasty illnesses – and hey – you won’t get scurvy anytime soon. It’s almost spring! We’re doing fine and we don’t have scurvy!

This tart will help walk you out of any scurvy worries and into a land where blood oranges naturally make everything a delightful shade of pink – where candied oranges look good no matter how you arrange them, and where there’s blood orange curd to eat by the spoonful. It will help you walk out of the winter citrus with dignity, unlike the fourth mimosa you had last brunch. It’s almost spring! We like dignity!

So, by my logic, this tart will not only taste delicious, it will prevent scurvy, bring back your dignity that a mimosa ran off with, and help you gracefully enter springtime. And yes, I’m so fully aware that it is still February, but here outside of Philly it’s feeling an awful lot like spring, and despite my schooling in climate change, I’m here for it. It’s almost spring! We’re doing fine in climate-change-warmness! Make this tart. You won’t be sorry.

 

blood orange tart

citrus tart crust:
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbs) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs cold water
Zest of 1 blood orange

blood orange curd:
2 eggs
5 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbs sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs cornstarch
1 cup blood orange juice
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 Tbs blood orange zest
4 Tbs butter

vanilla scented whipped cream: 
1/2 cup heavy cream
Scraped seeds of one vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbs sugar

candied orange slices:
1 blood orange/orange, thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup powdered sugar

how-to: tart crust
Rub orange zest into sugar with your fingertips. Toss the zesty sugar with butter cubes in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until a paste forms with no lumps, about 5 minutes. 

Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition. Scrape down sides of the bowl.

Sift flour and salt together in a separate bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients, just until combined. Add the cold water and mix briefly.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead several times until smooth. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375. Roll out dough to fit your tart pan, and don’t worry if it cracks or breaks here and there. Press it into the pan until there is a uniform thickness. Dock with a fork. For best results and less shrinkage, stick the lined pan in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Line pan with parchment paper and fill with dried beans (or rice, or baking weights) and bake for 12-15 minutes, until the bottom is somewhat dry. Remove weights and bake for another 15-20 minutes more until the crust is evenly golden brown. Let cool completely.

how-to: blood orange curd
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is a pale yellow and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and salt and continue mixing. Add blood orange juice, zest, water and butter, and mix until somewhat incorporated (the butter will not mix in). Pour the mixture into a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, and whisk continuously until mixture thickens and deepens in color. Remove from heat and whisk for an additional minute or two. Pour mixture into the pre-baked and cooled tart crust. Cover surface with plastic wrap and let cool in the fridge for at least an hour – ideally more.

how-to: vanilla scented whipped cream
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together cream, sugar, and vanilla seeds until stiff peaks form. Spread over surface of the tart and garnish with dried orange slices.

how-to: candied orange slices:
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Put the powdered sugar in a medium, shallow bowl. Dip each slice to coat and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until dried and slightly shriveled, about 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours. Let cool. Arrange over whipped cream on top of tart.

plum and almond tart

Last night, I made a meal for eight people, with three courses, and one plum-almond tart.

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I rubbed garlic cloves on slices of toasted baguette, and I spooned tomatoes all happy and relaxed in their juices. I sliced shallots thinly, fried them and promptly ate them all. Whatever was left of the shallots appeared to make their way into my sister’s hands – but I have no blame to give.

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I halved two pounds of cherry tomatoes, and I spilled white wine on the floor, which was already partially covered with flour. I rolled meatballs, wine deglazed, drizzled honey and topped tomatoes with jaunty basil leaves that my mom had just picked outside. I used every single bowl we have in our kitchen – twice. It was probably too much food.

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All the while, my stone fruit tart whiled away in the oven, biding its time for my attention. And I’ll be darned if it didn’t grab my attention and never let it go. I stuck my face right above it, inhaled, exhaled, inhaled, exhaled, found my happy place, and almost forgot about browning those meatballs on all sides.

Sweet plums, nestled in a buttery dough and sprinkled with ground almonds seems too easy – too simple, but when I set aside the potatoes and the pancetta and turned my attention to this baby, I decided it wasn’t too easy at all. It was that tart. The one you see online and think that it might be too hard or too many plums or maybe they had special plums cause wow – but – I assure you no special plums here. If anything, these were slightly underripe plums, and it was still gosh-darn good.

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It was perfect. I kid you not. Make this for your next dinner party and your grandfather will probably suggest you become a caterer, your grandmother will wonder over whipped cream, and your sisters will clamor for more – despite this being the fourth or fifth plate of food. Serve it up, summer style, with vanilla ice cream – or go my route with lightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream. Doesn’t matter – these plums will outshine it all.

plum-almond tart

1⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ baking powder
½ salt
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
⅓ cup sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk or cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup fine breadcrumbs
½ cup finely ground raw almonds
½ finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons sugar
1¾ pounds ripe plums
1½ tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into little slivers or chunks
2 tablespoons sliced almonds

how-to:

Preheat oven to 375F, and butter and flour a 9 inch springform pan.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest, and pile it on a clean work surface. Cut the butter into tiny tiny cubes, and refreeze to harden if needed. Take the butter and put it in a circle around the dry pile. Mix together the egg, milk, vanilla and sugar in a small bowl. Pour into the well in the top of the dry ingredients, and begin to mix together with a fork. When it gets to hard to mix with a fork, begin to use a bench scraper to mix in, making sure to scrape up from the bottom and also to chop the butter in. Once it is cohesive, knead a couple times to get it to come together, form a disk, wrap in plastic, and let rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Once it has rested, lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out to about 1 1/2 inches wider than the springform pan (mine was about an 11 inch circle). Place it in the prepared pan, pressing down in the edges to make sure it forms the right shape. Ideally this comes up an inch or more on the sides. Trim and mess around with the sides to make them somewhat even – but don’t freak out since this is a rustic tart. Poke all over with a fork, and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
While it is resting, mix together the breadcrumbs, ground almonds, lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl. Slice each of the plums in half lengthwise, leaving the back edge connected like a book. Pry out pits. If you accidentally cut one all the way in half don’t panic.
Once the tart shell is ready, sprinkle half of the almond mixture (about 1/2 cup) in the bottom, and arrange the cut plums in circles on the top (remember – rustic). Sprinkle the other half of the almond mixture on top, and top with the slivers of cold, unsalted butter and the sliced almonds. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-55 minutes (mine took close to 55), until the pastry is a dark golden brown and the plums have released their juices. Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream, lightly sweetened whipped cream, or whatever your heart desires. Share with family, and enjoy.