Don’t make this tart. Let me rephrase. Don’t make this tart unless you’re obsessive about detail, have a high tolerance for nit-picky tasks and two hours to kill. Oh, and if you have a tendency to spurt forth with four-letter words when a hot tart slips from your hands onto the table and smashes the entire fluted rim of a certain just-baked dessert, you may want to think long and hard about calling that bakery downtown.
If, on the other hand, you still want to proceed, may the Gods of all tarts sweet and savory bless you every step of the way. You’ll need it. Should you decide to accept this mission however, your patience, time and guests will be rewarded with this stunner of a dessert that tastes every bit as wonderful as it looks. But hurry, grab a fork or this tart will disappear quicker than a dewdrop on a rose petal.
Let me guide you through the process. First I made the crust. The original recipe (from Martha Stewart, wouldn’cha know?) calls for a standard pastry crust. But I made one using amaretti cookies, since the flavor goes so well with peaches and nectarines. So make the crust and let it cool. I made the mistake of not buttering the tart pan well enough, making it a little difficult to remove the slices neatly when it was time to cut into the tart.
Now comes the tricky part – making the roses. I pitted the nectarines, split them in half, then sliced each pitted half with a mandoline. You could use a knife too, but it’s harder to get slices with a uniform thickness. If you make the slices too thick, they’ll be resistant to curving into a circular shape. Too thin and they disintegrate or they’re a mess to handle. The nectarines should not be dead ripe, but not rock hard either. Somewhere in the middle is perfect. Once you have slices, then cut them in half down the middle. Work on one nectarine at a time to get the hang of it. Don’t slice all of them at once.
Take it out of the oven and wait for tart to cool before attempting to extract it from its removable bottom. Otherwise, the hot tart is likely to slip from your hands, plop on the table, and that pretty fluted rim you worked so hard to achieve will be history. Take my word for it. (Well, actually make that a few four letter words that shall remain unsaid here in this family blog.)
3/4 cup amaretti cookies
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup almonds
6 Tablespoons butter
Place cookies, sugar and almonds in food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Add melted butter and whir a few seconds longer to blend. Press into 9" tart pan and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
6 or 7 nectarines
Filling: (This part is a Martha Stewart recipe)
1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Chambord or brandy
1/4 tsp salt
1. Make and pre-bake a tart shell according to a recipe of your choice. Set aside to cool completely.
2. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat, whisk occasionally until butter solids begin to brown, about 5 mins. Remove from heat, set aside.
3. In medium bowl, whisk egg, sugar, lemon juice, Chambord and salt until light in color and double in volume, about 2 minutes. Add flour and reserved brown butter, whisk until well combined.
4. Slice nectarines into 1/8 inch slices. Make roses by loosely coiling a thin slice of nectarine for the center, then wrapping each additional slice around it, offsetting each slice from the previous one. Make and transfer enough roses to fill tart shell, filling any gaps with extra nectarine slices.
5. Whisk filling briefly, pour evenly over fruit, using a spoon to fill empty spaces. Bake at 375F, rotating tart halfway through, until filling has slightly puffed, about 40 mins. (When tart came out of oven, I brushed the rosettes with a little melted apricot jam, and filled in the empty spaces where the filling looked sparse. Actually I think you could eliminate the filling entirely and this tart would taste delicious with only the rosettes and apricot jam.)
Cool on wire rack. Makes one 9 inch tart. (I stupidly used a very large tart pan – about 11 inches – and it took forever to fill with rosettes. Plus the filling amount given in the original recipe was not enough to cover the entire surface very well. I filled in with apricot jam at the end as I mentioned above.)