Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Monticello Pride Tart

One of our famous presidents, Thomas Jefferson, had an estate in Monticello.  This estate had a South orchard that contained about 38 different varieties of peach trees.  Most of us are familiar with the story about him fleeing the estate on horseback during the war. After that he was labeled as being a coward.

In reading some more history, I found out that he had long since made a choice between the strong, corrupt politics and the more honest, smaller group of politicians.  Having chosen to be a part of the smaller group led to issues of not having a very effective army and questionable leadership skills.  On top of these issues, his estate was very costly to maintain.  Costly enough to where the financial burden was not only felt by him but also the rest of the family.  However, this financial struggle was something he willingly dealt with instead of relinquishing the estate.  In the long run, I do believe that keeping the estate was a matter of pride.

Now you know how the name came about, so on with the explanation of this dessert!  The pastry crust is made with ground almonds which gives it a rich flavor.  In addition, the filling is unlike the standard.  Instead of being heavy with cream it only has 1/4 cup, which is much lighter.  You will also find ground almonds and almond extract in it. To offset this nutty tart, fresh sliced peaches are cooked on top of the filling.  After baking, warm peach preserves are brushed on top.

We normally go with peaches and cream, but the nutty base does compliment the flavor of the peaches.  As you take a bite, you land on the flaky nutty pastry, then the filling with a little crunch and finally, the sweet juicy peach.  As far as I am concerned peach and almond never tasted so good!

Also, before we move on, I wanted to thank a blogger for a recent award. I know I usually do two, but I think this one, due to the uniqueness, needs to stand alone.

Javelin Warrior at Cooking With Luv
He gave me the Happy Blogger award.  Javelin has a very unique blog that focuses on
promoting food bloggers..  He has such themes as "made with love Mondays" and "Tuesday Tutor".  The first is a weekly link up of recipes from various blogs.  The links have to be made from scratch recipes that are void of any artificial colors or ingredients.  The second theme is a post where he makes a recipe from a fellow blogger and interviews them as well.  We all know there are thousands of food blogs, so his themes are helping shed some limelight on some great talent that you might not have been aware of. I admire his selflessness in blogging as well as his dedication to natural nutrition.

If you have not met Javelin, you are missing the benefits of having this unique blogger in your circle, so drop in for a visit.  Now for the recipe!

Monticello Pride Tart
by flourtrader

Ingredients/ Almond Filling
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup of almond flour or meal (I ground my own)

Ingredients/Nut Pastry Crust
1/3 cup whole almonds
6 tbs butter ( cold and cubed)
1 tbs cold shortening (cold and cubed)
2 tbs water
3/4 tbs sugar
1 1/4 cups of flour
1/8 tsp salt

Ingredients/ Topping
4 peeled and sliced peaches
1/2 cup peach preserves
3 tbs water

To make the filling, whisk the egg and almond extract together.  Then, in a separate bowl, mix the sugar and almond flour together.  Take half of the almond sugar mixture and stir into the egg batter.  Add the whipping cream, mixing until well blended.  Add the rest of the almond sugar mixture and stir.  After everything is blended, place a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface of the batter and place it in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours.

After about 2 1/2  hours of chilling time, start on the crust.  Place the nuts and sugar in a food processor and pulse several times.  The consistency should be fine once pulsed, almost flour fine.  Go through the blend and make sure there are no more large chunks of nuts.  If so remove them or chop them down with a knife.

Then add the flour and salt, pulsing in intervals until well blended.  Open the lid of the processor and toss in the butter cubes. Replace the lid and pulse about 6 times.  Open again,fluff dough with
a fork and drop in shortening cubes.  Then pulse for 6 times and then open and fluff the dough.  Lastly, add the water and pulse until the mixture forms clumps.

Empty the contents of the processor on top of a sheet of wax paper.  Form the dough into a ball and then knead a few times and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill in fridge for 45 minutes.

Take out disk and place on lightly floured surface. Roll into a 9X12 rectangle.  Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll it over the 7X10 inch tart pan.  Press evenly into bottom of pan and up the sides. Then place pan in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. After the proper chilling time has expired, remove the tart  pan from the freezer and the filling from the refrigerator.  Uncover filling and fill tart pan, smoothing the top to insure even coverage to all corners.

Then place the peach slices in rows, either vertically or horizontally, on top of the filling.  Then place in oven and bake about 40 minutes.  When done, the cream should be set and the crust toasty. Remove and place tart on a rack.

While the tart is baking, place peach preserves and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Stir and let mixture come to a simmer.  Pour mixture into a sieve placed over a heat proof bowl.  Discard any lumps left in sieve and then brush the strained preserves over the peaches.

To serve, cut tart into pieces with a sharp knife.  Tart can be served warm or at room temperature.

Notes and Tips:
1. the pastry crust is easy to work with so if your transfer of the dough to the tart is not perfect you can patch it in place.
2. To insure that the pastry holds its shape all freezing time and chilling time is required.
3. How many peaches you use is personal preference on how much fruit you want to overlap on top.
4. The texture of the filling will vary depending on which type you use-almond flour, almond meal or grinding your own.  The almond flour will give you the smoothest "mouth feel".
                                **LAST YEAR: Foggy City Meatloaf**