These small tarts use two complementary fruits, although they take different forms: fresh apricots are used because they are in season now while the raspberries are made into jam. When I can't get fresh apricots, I reverse the flavours, using apricot jam in the filling and fresh raspberries on top.
Apricot and raspberry tarts with almond filling
The apricots we get in Hong Kong tend to be mealy and not very flavourful. But heating them – even if it’s just briefly, as with this recipe – smooths out the texture and brings out the flavour.
These tarts look large for individual servings, but they are quite light. The pâte à sucre recipe is from The Pie and Pastry Bible (1998), by Rose Levy Beranbaum, while the almond filling is adapted from the financier recipe in Grand Livre De Cuisine: Alain Ducasse’s Desserts and Pastries (2002). The tart dough and filling need time to chill, so make them a few hours before baking the tarts.
I make my own raspberry jam but you can use a good-quality commercial version. Look on the label: it should contain only fruit, sugar and lemon juice or citric acid.
For the pâte à sucre:
200 grams plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for rolling
50 grams granulated sugar
¼ tsp fine sea salt
125 grams unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1cm chunks
1 large egg yolk, chilled
About 40ml cream, chilled
½ tsp vanilla extract
For the filling and topping:
110 grams unsalted butter
30 grams sliced almonds
90 grams granulated sugar
¼ tsp fine sea salt
30 grams plain (all-purpose) flour
80 grams egg whites, at room temperature
Raspberry jam, as needed
About 18 fresh apricots
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Six fresh raspberries
Make the almond filling first, because it should chill for several hours. Put the butter in a small saucepan and set it over a low-medium flame. After the butter melts, drape a paper towel over the pan, then hold it in place by covering it partially with the lid of the pan (the paper towel catches the splatters and makes it easier to clean up). Turn the heat to low and cook the butter until it’s a beurre noisette – medium-brown and nutty smelling. Cool until it’s room temperature but still fluid.
Spread the almonds on a small baking dish and place in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees Celsius. Bake the nuts for about five minutes, or until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven (turn off the heat) then cool to room temperature. Put the almonds with the sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add the flour and process to combine. With the processor motor running, pour the butter, then the egg whites, through the feed tube. Mix the ingredients with a spatula to make sure they are thoroughly combined, then scrape into a container and refrigerate for at least four hours.
For the dough, whisk the egg yolk with the cream and vanilla extract, then refrigerate until needed. Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the chunks of chilled butter and process until they are the size of small peas. Put the mixture into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yolk-cream-vanilla mixture, then use your fingertips to combine the ingredients to make a dough that’s neither dry nor sticky. If it’s dry, drizzle in a little more cream. Shape the dough into a flattish disc then wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough so it’s very thin – about 2mm thick. Cut the dough into pieces large enough to fit into six tart pans with removable bottoms that are about 12cm in diameter and about 1.5cm deep. Without stretching the dough, drape it into the contours of the pans and press it gently against the sides so it adheres. Trim off overhang at the edges of the pan.
Refrigerate the tart shells for at least 30 minutes. (Press the scraps of dough together, wrap with cling film and refrigerate; the leftover dough keeps well in the fridge for at least a week, or frozen for longer storage, and can be used for other small tarts.)
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Use the tines of a fork to press holes in the bottom of the tart shells. Cut squares of aluminium foil to fit into the shells with some overhang. Gently press the foil into the contours of the shells then place them on a baking tray. Bake at 200 degrees for five minutes then reduce the heat to 180 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the edges of the tart shells are pale golden. Remove the aluminium foil and continue to bake for about five more minutes, or until the surface of the shells is matte, but they are not fully baked. Place the tray on the kitchen counter but leave the oven on.
When the shells are room temperature, spread a very thin layer of raspberry jam over the bottom. Stir the almond filling to soften it, then spread it about 5mm thick over the raspberry jam, covering it completely. Bake at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant, pale golden and firm to the touch. Cool to room temperature. (The leftover filling can be made into financiers: spray pan-coating over small moulds, fill them halfway with the filling and bake until brown and fragrant.)
Remove the tarts from the moulds. Cut the apricots in half and remove the pits. Slice the apricots about 2mm thick and lay them slightly overlapping in concentric circles over the almond filling, leaving a space in the middle for a fresh raspberry. Sprinkle sugar over the apricots, then use a propane (or butane) torch to lightly caramelise the sugar and slightly char the edges of the fruit. Cool for a few minutes, then place a raspberry in the middle of each tart and serve.