Thursday, September 1, 2011

Peach Blueberry Tarts with Brown Butter Almond Crust, Bourbon Mascarpone, and Basil

A few weeks ago, a wonderful French-inspired patisserie/boulangerie opened just a few blocks from me.  Their croissants are perfect - in fact better than those at Bouchon Bakery - their breads are excellent, and they have a wide array of little pastries.  Among them are seasonal fruit tarts with combinations such as blueberry, lemon, and lemongrass and cherries with rosewater.  I've been there a few times and have loved their breads and croissants, but have not yet been bowled over by the tarts, which, at $6.50 a pop, are not cheap.  So I decided to make my own.

I had set out to make a cocktail with peaches, brown butter-washed bourbon, and basil, but I got annoyed that I had just paid so much for a tiny tart that was not so spectacular, so I decided to turn those flavors into a tart, albeit with a few additions.  The pieces fell into place fairly easily.  The only time consuming step was the crust, which was nonetheless easy to make.  It was inspired by this clever method I discovered on Food 52 a few weeks ago and I modified it in a few ways, most notably by replacing some of the flour with almond meal.  The rest of the components are very straightforward and require minimal preparation or pastry skills, just a bit of mixing, slicing, and peeling, all basic kitchen skills.

Make sure you use ripe peaches that are in season - they are the star of these tarts so you want to use only the very best.  I used tiny wild blueberries from Maine that I managed to snag from the pay-as-you-go CSA from Rucola/This Batch, and they were gorgeous in this tart - their diminutive size and big flavor worked wonderfully - but if you can't get a hold of them, some small, local blueberries are just as good.  Just avoid the gargantuan supermarket variety.  The brown butter crust is more than just a vehicle for the filling, the boozy mascarpone lends just a bit of richness and earthiness, and a little shower of basil ties it all together.

Together, these components come together to make a little tart with big flavor that is definitely worthy of a patisserie.


Peach Blueberry Tarts with Brown Butter Almond Crust, Bourbon Mascarpone, and Basil
makes one 11" tart or eight 3" tarts

For the crust
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup water
5 teaspoons turbinado sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 ounces all purpose flour (heaping cup), plus more as needed
2 1/2 ounces almond meal (a little more than 1/2 cup)

For the filling
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon bourbon
8 ounces mascarpone cheese

For the topping
4 ripe yellow peaches
3/4 cup small blueberries
6-8 leaves basil


Make the crust
Heat oven to 400 F.  Put the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt into an ovenproof dish.  Put the dish on the middle rack and cook until the mixture is boiling and the butter is starting to brown, about 15 minutes.

Carefully remove the dish from the oven and place it on a heatproof surface.  Add the flour and almond meal and stir to combine.  The dough should pull away from the sides of the dish and should not be greasy.  If it doesn't do both of these things, add a little more flour - about a teaspoon at a time - and mix until it's smooth and pulls away from the dish.

Once the dough is cool enough to handle, reserve a small chunk of dough (about the size of a golf ball) to patch up any cracks for after baking.  If using small tart pans, divide the remaining dough evenly between each pan, otherwise transfer all of the remaining dough to a large pan.  Press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Prick the bottom with a fork and transfer the pans to a baking sheet.

Bake until the edges of the crust are lightly golden, about 15 minutes for a large pan and 10-12 minutes for smaller ones.

If there are any cracks in the crust, patch them up with a small bit of the reserved dough - no need to re-bake!

Let the crust cool completely before filling.

Make the filling
In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey and bourbon.  Add the mascarpone and mix well to combine.

Make the topping
Cut each peach in half and cut each half into 6 wedges.  Use a paring knife to peel each wedge. It's ok if a little bit of skin is left behind - try to get rid of most of it, but not at the expense of the flesh of the fruit.

Stack the basil leaves, roll them up, and cut into a chiffonade.

Assemble the tarts
Spread the mascarpone in the cooled tart shell.  Arrange the peach slices on top of the mascarpone.  Sprinkle with the blueberries and basil.

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