While everyone around the country seems to be shouting FALL from the rooftops, I’m trying as hard as I can to hang onto summer. Our warm season starts a month later than everyone else so I’m less eager to see it go. I’m OK with a bit cooler temps, sure, but not fall; not yet. We’re just now getting the best of summers crop of tomatoes, corn, peaches and plums and I’m not about to go into harvest mode. I want the simplest dishes; fresh tomatoes dressed only with salt, olive oil and maybe a bit of basil, corn from the grill slathered with the most amazing chile butter (coming soon!), peaches often eaten just standing over the sink and plums, gorgeous little orbs that I like fine from my hand but I have learned to LOVE cooked into a tart or pie.
Last Sunday I went to a local farmers market and I happened to time it just right. Later than I would have liked, it turned out to be perfect as the stand I went up to first was handing out bags with the offer of $10 to fill them up. No problem. I did just that! Poblano peppers,eggplant, zucchini and patty pan squash, tomatoes and potatoes, pears and pluots. I was looking for plums but these pluots were perfect. Firm but ripe and a bit less sweet than a plum, I thought they would be perfect for a tart I wanted to make using up the rest of the puff pastry I had in the fridge.
What is a pluot you say? Well, many think they are half plum and half apricot but that combination is actually called a plumcot. Pluots are the result of a fellow named Zaiger crossbreeding plumcots with plums; resulting in a fruit that is generally 60-75% plum and the remainder apricot. As the Zaigers began backcrossing plumcots with plums to create more complex hybrids (with varying ratios of plum to apricot), they wanted to market them with a different name—one that wouldn’t be tarnished by the notoriety of plumcots. Thus they trademarked the name pluot (pronounced plew-ott) in 1990. (They renewed the trademark in 2007.)
They were sweet but not TOO sweet and had a beautiful color; just perfect, well, except for one thing. As long as someone is going to invest time in breeding fruit, why on earth they don’t make them cling-free is beyond me. The first half pulled off the pit relatively easily but I had to do surgery with a small paring knife to remove it from the second half of the fruit. I’m certain there was a GRR or two said during that process. Still, not a biggy and I soon had my fruit pitted and quartered. I like doing very little to fruit that is this fresh in the summer, so a short maceration in some orange liqueur and orange zest and we were good to go.
I normally use mascarpone cheese when I want to seal a crust that I’m going to fill with fresh fruit but this time around it was baked for just a bit with the pluots. Just enough of a filling element to hold the pluots in place without being so much that it masked their fantastic flavor. I did have one little hiccup. I decided to blind bake the puff pastry as I didn’t want to cook the fruit or cheese for the time it would take to bake. Um, hello big domed thing in my oven (doggone that’s what I should have gotten a photo of!). SO glad I looked before it had become too crispy. Doing the same thing? I had to remove it from the oven three times and prick it with a fork to let the air escape. Now if I could find a dessert to make with that big dome; I will tell you it was pretty spectacular looking! I think you could use any stone fruit for this tart or a combination even. Just make sure it’s ready and ripe; there is not a lot of cooking; it’s all about the fruit being fresh, ripe and fabulous!
I’ve included a photo of my ‘fix’ because I didn’t have a tart pan; just folded some foil a couple of times to create a new edge; folded the dough too so it would be sturdy enough to stand up and it seems to work fine. The tart pan is easier, I can not deny. 🙂