Saturday, February 11, 2012

Impossible Nectarine Tart

nectarine tart recipe

I made this nectarine tart about two years ago, using the birth of a friend's child as an excuse. I was obsessed with it for a few weeks before I made it, and eventually went ahead and shelled out for the Chambord. It's one of the prettiest things I've ever made, and was obviously made before I got my own camera.

There's something about this picture that I like. It reminds me of still life paintings of fruit.
Because, y'know, it's fruit and it's still.

nectarine tart recipe

The recipe, from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, called for a traditional pate brisee. The website upon which I first found it used an amaretti crumb crust. I split the difference and used a pate sucree shell from Smitten Kitchen, and in retrospect I wish that I'd trusted Martha and gone with the pate brisee, because while the pate sucree was good, it was a bit sweet for this tart. This was actually my very first tart, my very first pastry dough, and my very first taste of nectarines.

nectarine tart recipe

Obviously, the nectarine roses are the hardest part, but they are the very reason you're making this tart, right?. Because they make it beautiful. I don't own a mandolin (one day I'll own this one), so I sliced them all thinly by hand. With a dull knife. Because I was worried about that part, as well as generally impatient, I think my nectarines were slightly under-ripe. You need them ripe enough that they will bend and stick to one another, but not so ripe that they will disintegrate with manipulation. Supposedly, you should be able to roll them from the inside out and have them stick together. This didn't work for me, but I came up with a solution involving egg cartons, the freezer, and building them outside-in. 

The flowers took me ages--many, many hours. After that the tart was easy. And beautiful.

nectarine tart recipe
Frozen nectarine flowers arrange easily in the tart shell.

You'll need:

1 nine inch tart shell, blind-baked and cooled
You can find a traditional pate brisee by Martha here.

6ish nectarines for the roses

1 1/2 tbsp AP flour
3 tbsp butter, to be browned
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Chambord (This works fantastically, but it's expensive. You might want to use brandy instead.)
1/4 tsp salt

What to do:

After you've filled your cooled tart shell full of god-damned-roses, which is what they will become, pre-heat the oven to 365 F.
Brown the butter in a small pan over medium heat, and set aside to cool.
Whisk together the egg, sugar, lemon juice, Chambord and salt until double in volume and light in colour (~2 minutes). Add flour and browned butter, whisk until combined. 
Pour the filling evenly over your nectarine god-damned-roses and bake for about 40 minutes, until the filling has puffed slightly. 
Cool completely before cutting.

nectarine tart recipe
I don't have pictures of the full tart because I ate a slice right after it came out of the oven at 11pm, when the lighting was bad.

I've seen some lovely apple pies in the style of Rose Levy Berenbaum's Designer Apple pie (for example, here), and this would probably be an easier, but still beautiful, way of filling the nectarine tart. 


  1. I just made an apple tart using the same 'rose' method, and 'impossible' is right. I, too, spent hours on the silly roses. (And with the apples, a mandoline still didn't make the slices thin enough so that they wouldn't break instead of bend - I had to use a vegetable peeler.) And while it was good, it wasn't great. This recipe looks much better. If I'm ever insane enough to want to spend hours making fruit roses again.

    1. That sounds even harder! Maybe if I was one of those people who can just keep peeling apples forever in one long twisty ribbon, I could roll that up into beautiful roses. But I'm not--I peel in sad little chunks.