This recipe brings a winter favorite—the nut crescents I bake during Christmas time—back to summer, in the form of a tart crust. I bake it with a simple ricotta custard, which provides the perfect base for a partially cooked blueberry filling—a clever trick I picked up here on Food52 a few years ago. I reduce the sugar, however, while adding a touch of apricot jam, spiked with vanilla.
N.B.: For a berry-heavy dessert like this, I often select slightly under-ripe berries for about a quarter of what I need for dessert, as they are more tart and just a little bit crunchy. —AntoniaJames
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: AntoniaJames is a transaction lawyer who bakes and cooks whenever she's at home.
WHAT: A simple berry tart that's ideal for cookouts (or just a weeknight treat—it's summer, after all).
HOW: Line a pan with a nutmeg-spiced, pecan-based cookie crust. Line it with a ricotta custard, then bake it. Pour in par-cooked blueberries, lightly sweetened by apricot preserves. Dance a summertime jig.
WHY WE LOVE IT: At the peak of summer, fruits are sweet enough without sugar—and this tart makes that clear. There's so little refined sugar in this tart (5 tablespoons total), that you could skip it altogether and just take in the natural sweetness from the par-cooked blueberries and apricot preserves—with a glass of rosé on the side. —The Editors
one 10-inch tart
For the pecan cookie crust:
(1 heaping cup) crushed pecans, toasted
sugar (I use turbinado, but ordinary cane sugar will do)
To make the crust, pour the pecan pieces into a food processor. Pulse 5 or 6 times, then add all of the dry ingredients (including the spices) and the butter. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl.
In a separate small bowl, beat together the egg and the vanilla extract. Drizzle it over the dough ingredients. Pulse just enough to bring the dough together, scraping down the sides again after the third or fourth pulse.
Turn the dough out into a 10-inch tart tin, ideally one with a removable bottom. Working from the center, press out and up into the edges, smoothing to make the surfaces even; pack the crust into the sides.
To make the custard, in a medium bowl, use a fork or whisk to beat the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of sugar and the vanilla and almond extracts. Add the ricotta and nutmeg, then beat well until thoroughly blended.
Pour the custard into the prepared crust. Bake on a shelf in the lower third of your oven for about 30 minutes, giving the tart a quarter turn, half-way through to ensure even baking. Remove from the oven and allow the custard-lined crust cool a bit.
Meanwhile, make the filling. In a medium, non-reactive saucepan, warm the apricot preserves over medium-low heat with about 1/4 cup of water, stirring. When the preserves are syrupy, remove and finely chop any chunks of apricot and return them to the pan with about 2 cups of the blueberries, along with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and about 1/2 cup of water.
Return the pan to the stove and raise the heat to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently and mashing down on the cooking blueberries to release their juices. After 5 minutes, use a potato masher or the back of a large spoon to crush as many of the cooked berries as you can. Simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes or so on low heat, taking care not to scorch the sauce. Remove from the heat, give it a good stir, and let it cool for at least 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, add the remaining 3 cups of berries, and gently toss.
Fill the tart and let rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)