Apart from the very practical home-cooking books I also buy those written by famous – usually French – chefs or confectioners with breathtaking, state-of-the-art photos and incredibly long and scary recipes. I buy them not only to leaf through the glossy pages, dreaming of sophisticated dishes and admiring the masters’ skills, but also to find some ideas, tips or bits of recipes I could introduce into my cooking. This is the case of “Plaisirs sucrés” by Pierre Hermé, my absolute idol in the world of macarons and confectionery.
If the cover of my “Plaisirs sucrés” starts being used up, it’s not because I use Pierre Hermé’s exact recipes often. Nonetheless, since I found there the best pastry cream recipe (crème pâtissière) in the world, (I used it in Strawberry Tartlets), I decided to look there for a new apricot dessert idea. This is how I came across the thing which makes this upside-down tart unique, namely the extravagant use of moist, sticky, brown sugar, called muscovado. By “extravagant” I mean putting a 1 cm layer of sugar I would have never dared in my previous upside-down tarts. Having tried both a thick and a thin layer of muscovado (opting for individual tartlets made this experiment easier), I can affirm the 1 cm layer is obligatory (actually I have put about 1 cm, but Pierre Hermé advised 1,5 cm!). One of the tartlets was made with normal brown sugar; it wasn’t even half as good. The apricots are darkened by the muscovado, but the aroma and the taste are simply divine.
TIP: I couldn’t find this sugar in “normal” shops and have finally seen it in both a Vietnamese and a British grocery.
individual tart dishes
pastry cutters (slightly bigger than the tart dishes)
Ingredients (makes 6x 10 cm diameter tartlets):
1,5 kg apricots
1 thin puff pastry sheet (about 230g)
50 g butter
juice from 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Grease small tart dishes generously with butter (also on the sides).
Put a 1 cm thick layer of muscovado sugar on the bottom of each dish.
Cut the apricots in two, remove the kernels.
Arrange the apricots very tightly (they will shrink) in a nice pattern, laying them on the side. (Not the kernel side or the skin side!).
Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apricots.
Cut out circles from the pastry sheet. They should be a bit bigger than the dish’s bottom diameter.
Cover the apricots with the pastry tucking well the sides downwards.
Prick the surface several times with a fork.
Put the tartlets into the oven for 30 – 40 minutes.
Take them out when the tart is dark golden.
When the tartlets cool down a bit, make sure, cutting around and separating with a knife, that the pastry doesn’t stick to the sides of the dishes.
Put a small serving plate over each tart dish (bottom side up) and carefully turn the tartlets upside down. (Do it over a kitchen sink and wear dark clothes.)
If some fruit pieces haven’t fallen into the plate, simply arrange them in the tartlets and if there is any juice left in the dishes, simply pour it over the turned-upside tarts.
Put them into the fridge and serve cold.