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After spending the Christmas holidays in Central Otago we could not pass up the chance to celebrate the beautiful stone fruit that our country produces during summer. Even though our summer has been late in arriving it has not stopped the sun-kissed ripening of apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums to name a few.
In this recipe we have softly poached the fruit to bring out the flavour, but you can just as easily top the tart with sliced raw fruit and glaze with jam. We have chosen plums and apricots for this recipe but any stone fruit or berry would work just as well. You choose the shape of the tart, using mini muffin tins, normal muffin tins, rectangular tins or one big tart tin to serve the masses. We promise you, there will be none left!
Pastry: 1 ⅓ cup high grade flour 2 Tbsp caster sugar 90g butter, chilled and chopped into chunks pinch of salt 1 free range egg
Filling: 250g cream cheese ½ cup sour cream ½ cup icing sugar 1 Tbsp rum (or your favourite tipple)
Topping: 1 cup water ½ cup caster sugar 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half 3 sprigs thyme 6 apricots (or your choice of stone fruit), halved and stone removed 6 plums, halved and stone removed
Praline: ½ cup caster sugar 2 Tbsp water 3 Tbsp pistachio nuts, shelled and lightly roasted extra thyme leaves for garnishing
Preheat oven to 175 degrees.
Place first four pastry ingredients into a food processer and blitz briefly until the mixture becomes like breadcrumbs. Add the egg and blitz until the dough starts to come together.
Turn out onto a floured surface and quickly knead together until a soft, smooth dough is formed. Mould into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
While it is chilling, put all the filling ingredients into a food processer and blitz until combined and smooth. Chill.
In a small saucepan heat the water, sugar, vanilla bean and thyme until the sugar is dissolved. Add the fruit and gently simmer for no more than 5 minutes, until the skin just starts to peel away. Remove fruit from heat, cool and remove skin. Discard poaching liquid.
Spread the pistachio nuts on baking paper. In a small saucepan heat the extra water and caster sugar over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the toffee becomes golden in colour. Do not stir, but gently swirl the pan as the toffee caramelizes.
When golden in colour pour over nuts and leave to set. When cool and brittle chop into a crumb or blitz in a food processor.
When the pastry has rested roll out as thin as possible (approx 5mm thick) and cut into the desired shape to line your chosen tart tin.
Line the pastry cases with baking paper and blind bake (fill with rice or similar) for 10 minutes. Remove baking paper and rice, and continue to bake for a further 10 minutes until golden. Remove and cool.
Just before serving, fill shells with the cream cheese mixture, top with fruit halves, sprinkle with pistachio praline and garnish with thyme.