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Pulling Delicious from the Jaws of MEH: Transcendent Apricot Tart

As Joe’s pointed out, we’re at the cusp of open season for apricots–though he used dried ones for his snappy appy. Color me similarly underwhelmed by fresh apricots. The ones I’ve had have never even come close to delivering on their transcendent reputation. All  the fresh apricots I’ve managed to find fresh thus far have tended to be mealy, tinny, mooshy, bitter, or bland.

But, because I am dumb, I was totally seduced last weekend by a pile of soft, prettily hued apricots at the U Street Farmers’ Market. Alas, these too were extraordinarily “meh” eaten out of hand. While there was an undercurrent of lush apricot-ness, it was diluted and obscured by less palatable textures and flavors. Thoroughly dispirited, I had to do SOMETHING with them, and after some thought, I decided to give them the almond tart treatment–throwing them into a pastry shell filled with frangipane. A no-brainer as stone fruits are supposed to go well with almond. I was also hoping that baking would concentrate the tasty essence of my recalcitrant fruit.

Well, did it EVER. While the pear version of this tart has its adoring fans (C, I am talking to you), I think this is the winner. The apricot and the almond do indeed play wonderfully complimentary roles, and baked, the fruit slumped into delicious puddles of pure apricot bliss. There was truly amazing difference between the raw and the baked fruit.  All the green, nasty, astringent flavors disappeared and the mealy texture gave way to silkiness. Perhaps one needs a meticulously-tended Medeterranean seraglio to get the fragrantly honeyed, juicy fruit of yore but this tart will get you pretty damn close with a little effort.

So, to do it. Right. Pie crust and frangipane here. Replace pears with about six apricots, quartered or eight halved. (I did the former for the one pictured, but will do the latter next time–the apricots break down so much that pretty patterns aren’t worth the effort.) Bake as directed. Cool and glaze just the fruit with a bit of thinned apricot jam. Serve nude or a la mode. Eat with a beatific smile on your face.

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