Sunday, February 17, 2008

Valentine's Day Extravaganza: Plum Tart

Today is the day! Karl and I will be celebrating the Dia de Amor in high fashion this evening (since the middle of the week didn't work for us). Instead of going to a fancy restaurant, we decided it would be more special to stay home and cook up some of our favorite foods that we don't get very often. Ok, so that just means lamb and a fancier-than-usual bottle of wine. The other trimmings are red potatoes, brussell sprouts, and green beans. Yum! I can't wait!

For dessert, I wanted to do something special, so a couple of weeks ago, I asked Karl what he'd like, and he said "How about a plum tart?"

So, I got out my trusty "365 Great Pies You Can Bake" cookbook (which hasn't failed me yet), and found a recipe. I baked it this morning, and, as you can see from the photos, it is just beautiful!

I did make a few changes to the recipe: first, I used Grand Marnier instead of brandy, since I had Grand Marnier on hand. Second, the ratio of graham cracker crumbs to butter was a bit off in the recipe, so I added about a cup of graham cracker crumbs so the crust wouldn't be soggy. And third, the recipe called for 2 TBSP butter for the filling, but never specified at what point to add I just left it out. I imagine the butter was supposed to be dotted over the top of the tart, but I wasn't sure. I doubt it will make too much of a difference.

I can't wait to have a slice tonight after Karl and I have indulged in Burgundy-Pepper-marinated leg of lamb (from Trader Joe's at $5.99/lb) and a hopefully delicious French wine (2005 Domaine des Ouches Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley, $17.99). I will update later when I have had a chance to taste the tart. Judging from the heavenly aromas, I won't have any complaints!

Update: The plum tart was delightful. Next time, I won't use a graham cracker crust, although it certainly is a delicious complement to the plums. The problem is that the crust simply doesn't hold up as a tart shell. So, maybe I just need to figure out how to make a more compact crust that will hold up. Karl and I ended up eating more of a cobbler than a tart since the crust just didn't hold up.

I also will probably make sure the plums are a few days riper. It's kind of hard this time of year to get good plums, but I think a hint more sweetness would have been delicious with the tartness of the underripe plums. So maybe adding a little bit of sugar to less-ripe plums would work, too. Still, a GREAT tart that I will be making again.

Plum Tart

3 cups graham cracker crumbs, finely crushed
3/4 cup butter, melted

2 cups plums, sliced thinly (about 7 good sized plums)
3/4 cup apricot jam
2 TBSP Grand Marnier or brandy
1/3 cups hazelnuts, chopped coarsely

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Mix the graham cracker crumbs and the butter, and press tightly into an ungreased tart pan. Bake for 8 minutes.
Cool completely.
Arrange plum slices in tight, concentric circles in the tart shell. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the apricot jam and Grand Marnier until it just begins to bubble. Drizzle the hot jam mixture over the plums. Sprinkle the nuts on top of the tart. Bake in 375˚F oven for 20-25 minutes. Serve lukewarm.

Note: Don't refrigerate this tart: apparently, it doesn't hold up well in the refrigerator.