This is a multi-step, multi-component recipe, so it is not to be undertaken on a whim and finished in a flash.
Instant gratification, not found here. But don't see that as a drawback, rather it is a bonus.
It is quite a perfect winter dessert (or breakfast, I dare say), in that winter is never really the time of instant gratification, anyway. Breezy summer is when you want to throw something together in a snap, staying away from fuss and complexity, flitting from thought to completion in the blink of an eye.
Winter is for planning, organizing, meticulous attention to detail. No siren song of sweet breeze is calling you out, distracting you with promises. Instead, there is time for thoughtful preparation. Peaceful enjoyment of simple and honest ingredients. Creating something rustic but meaningful and satisfying.
Taking joy in the process.
The process of making this tart is a delight. Basic ingredients transform themselves into a grand design, where each part comes together to become a whole that is so much more than the mere sum of the individual components.
This tart, it is is not overly sweet or cloying. The only sweetness comes from the dried, then wine-plumped, peaches. It is sturdy and robust, what one needs in these wintry days. It glows with a sunny golden radiance, bringing cheer to short hours. Rememberances of this tart will linger with you through hectic, busy days of summer until you again have time to enjoy the process of taking time.
Wine-poached Peach and Almond Tart.
Serves 8 to 10.
Makes one 9-inch tart. Requires a 9-inch, removable bottom, fluted tart pan, a rolling pin, and a food processor.
For the Peaches.
1 1/2 cups dried peach halves (about 10 to 12 halves)
2 cups white wine, such as savinion blanc
2/3 cup granulated sugar
zest and juice from 1 clementine
1 mace blade
For the Crust.
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
a pinch of salt
For the Almond Filling.
3/4 cup blanched or slivered almonds (skins removed)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons flour
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Poach the peaches by putting the wine, granulated sugar, clementine zest and juice, and mace blade in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then add the dried peaches and turn down to a gentle simmer. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the peaches have plumped up lightly. Let the peaches cool in the syrup. Peaches can be stored in the refrigerator, in the poaching syrup, for up to a week. When ready to proceed, strain the peaches.
Reserve the syrup for another use, such as a flavoring for sparkling water, sweetener for tea, light drizzle for ice cream, or flavorful soak for pound cake.
Prepare the crust by whisking the flour, sugar and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Use your fingers (this is the time to enjoy the process) to work the butter into the flour until it has the texture of cornmeal. Add the egg, begin to mix with a fork, and then press the dough together until all the crumbs are combined into a shaggy mass.
Empty onto a clean, floured counter and press the dough into a rough disk. Use a rolling pin to shape the dough into a 1/4 inch thick disk slightly larger than the tart pan. Transfer the dough to the tart pan, press evenly across the bottom and up the sides, trim any excess dough from the top edge, and fill any holes or cracks that may have formed.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
To make the almond filling, grind the almonds in a food processor until they are the texture of coarse sand. Toast the ground almonds in a skillet over medium-low heat for 3 or 4 minutes, until they become fragrant and just begin to brown. Stir constantly. They will go from pale to toasted in an instant, so watch carefully.
Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar, then set aside to cool.
While the almonds cool, about 10 minutes, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
When the almonds are cooled, return them to the food processor. Add the butter, egg and egg yolk, and vanilla, and process until the filling is smooth. It will smell divinely of the best possible smells you could imagine.
Spread the almond filling in the prepared crust, and arrange the peaches on top, gently placing them in a pretty design. Bake the tart until the filling is toasty brown and puffed around the apricots, about 45 minutes.
Allow the tart to cool and the filling to set. Serve at room temperature.