A rare benefit
First, I want to tell you that I was elated by your response to Delancey. Totally elated. Ecstatic. Even slightly stoned. I’m still coming down from it. Thank you so very, very much. And HURRY UP, MAY OF 2014!
Now, speaking of Delancey: when I was cleaning up the office there a couple of weeks ago, I found a large container of shredded, unsweetened coconut. We’d been using it to make macaroons that were served with a key lime mousse, but the mousse was no longer on the menu, and the coconut wasn’t flagged for another use, or not yet. So I took it home - a rare benefit of being the unfortunate person charged with maintaining the office! I WIN THIS TIME - and made something with it that we liked so much, and ate so quickly, that I made it again less than a week later. The recipe I’m talking about comes from Heidi Swanson’s wonderful Super Natural Every Day, a title that has recently joined the select group of favorite cookbooks that I keep on top of our refrigerator. It’s called a macaroon tart.
(For the record, June did not eat any, but she wished she could.)
What we have here, or what we had before we ate it all, is a buttery crust that tastes and crunches a little like shortbread, topped with hunks of soft summer fruit and a blanket of chewy macaroon. Heidi’s original recipe calls for studding the tart with blackberries, but I had some beautiful apricots on the counter, so I used them instead. I also threw in a few raspberries, but I preferred the apricots. I loved the apricots. In fact, I want to call this an Apricot Macaroon Tart. I think I will. And while I’m in the business of making bold statements, I should say that I also took liberties with the crust. I hope Heidi will still call me a friend. Her recipe calls for white whole wheat flour, but my niece Hillary is living with us this summer, and she’s gluten-intolerant, so I gathered up my courage and tried making a gluten-free version of the crust. I used a mixture of buckwheat, brown rice, and tapioca flours, and though I don’t know what the tart would taste like as Heidi intended it, I liked the toasty, nutty flavor of the buckwheat so much that I now can’t imagine the tart without it. Apricot, coconut, butter, buckwheat. I’m in.
Apricot Macaroon Tart
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day
A word (or many words) about flour: using Shauna’s 40/60 ratio for gluten-free baking, I whisked up a batch of all-purpose flour mix from 100 grams of buckwheat flour, 100 grams of brown rice flour, and 300 grams of tapioca flour. (I then used 170 grams of this mixture in the recipe.) I have no idea how well this mix of flours would work in other recipes, and I probably did everything wrong, but it worked nicely here, yielding a crust with a crunchy, slightly nubbly texture and great buckwheaty flavor. The one thing that I will say, however, is that the crust wept a not-insignificant amount of butter onto the sheet pan. I have to assume that this had something to do with the mix of flours I used, and their properties? Anyway, I doubt that the original recipe, as Heidi conceived it, has a butter-weeping problem. In any case, consider yourself alerted. If your crust leaks a little butter onto the sheet pan, don’t worry. That’s why the sheet pan is there.
And one more word about flour: even if you do eat gluten, as I do, you really should consider using some buckwheat flour. The next time I make this tart, I might try using a mixture of buckwheat flour and standard all-purpose flour - maybe one-third buckwheat and two-thirds all-purpose? Not that white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour are not interesting enough, but I really love what buckwheat brings to this crust.
Oh, and if you find yourself without pistachios and are contemplating a trip to the grocery store: don’t worry about it. I’ve forgotten to add the pistachios both times that I’ve made this tart, and though I imagine it would be prettier and maybe a little, little bit tastier with them, it’s wonderful without.
Finally, if you live in Seattle, I strongly recommend the apricots from Bill’s Fruits, a stand toward the Ballard Inn end of the Ballard Farmers’ Market.
For the crust:
1 ½ cups (170 g) white whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, or a mixture of flours (see above)
¾ cup (60 g) unsweetened finely shredded coconut
½ cup (100 g) sugar
½ tsp. fine sea salt
10 tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
For the filling:
2 cups (140 g) unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1/3 cup (70 grams) sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
4 large egg whites
8 ounces (225 g) fresh apricots, pitted and quartered
1/3 cup (45 g) pistachios, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch round removable-bottom tart pan, and set it on a rimmed sheet pan.
To make the crust, combine the flour, coconut, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir to mix. Stir in the butter, and mix until the dough no longer looks dusty and all flour is absorbed. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan: it should form a solid, flat layer. Bake for 15 minutes, or until barely golden. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
While the crust bakes, prepare the filling. Combine the coconut, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir to mix. Add the egg whites, and mix until well combined. When the crust is baked, evenly distribute the apricots over it. Drop dollops of the filling over the fruit, using your fingers to nudge it into the spaces in between.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the peaks of the filling are deeply golden. Cool completely before topping with pistachios, slicing, and serving.
Yield: 8 to 12 slices, depending on how much you like dessert.