Shrunken Apricot and Cherry Tart, a la Hofluh

I made this tart recently, trying to recreate something I’d eaten a long time ago from a bakery in Hofluh, Switzerland. Recipe first, story after. It’s not so much a recipe as a few instructions, but I thought it was worth sharing because of the apricot treatment which gives you this amazingly zingy and delicious flavor, no sugar or other flavorings needed.

1) Make a single pie crust according to your favorite recipe. Or do what I did: use a refrigerated pie crust. I found an all-natural pate brisee dough (only ingredients flour, butter, and water). Yes, that sound you hear is Julia Child rolling over in her grave. But hey, all due respect, Madame Child didn’t have two crumb snatchers snapping at her heels. Cook pie crust according to instructions, but not all the way (because it will be cooked a little bit more later).

2) Make a shallow X-cut in your apricots (say 12-15 of them) —or try peaches —-and drop them in boiling water for about a minute. Drain, cool, then rub off the skins with your fingers—easy as pie.

3) Slice in half, remove pit, and lay out, centers up, on a cookie sheet. Now, for the magic: cook at a very low temp, say 200 degrees F. Or, turn up the heat to high —-400 or so—and then turn it off, leaving the apricots in the oven. I’m sorry to say I don’t have any exact times on this, but keep cooking them on very low heat until they’re shrunken, half-dried out, and releasing a fabulous syrup. Maybe this would be what they call caramelization, I don’t know.

4) Scoop up apricots and add to pie crust, along with fabulous syrup and freshly pitted cherries (I recommend a cherry-pitter or someone else to do this task–ha). Bake at say 350 degrees F for another 5-8 minutes, until cherries are just slightly cooked.

5) Enjoy!

Okay, the Hofluh story. Hofluh is a little town in Switzerland where, quite a few years ago, while on vacation, my family discovered a wonderful little bakery with all kinds of treats. One of those treats was a wonderful apricot tart. Good quality fresh apricots are not easy to find in South Carolina, where I grew up. Or maybe I just don’t know where to get them. I don’t think they’re grown in the southeast at all, so the ones that you do find are from California and not worth eating after being shipped all that way. (Although I have to say, as I always do, that the peaches in SC are to die for). Because of this dearth of apricots, apricot tart from Hofluh took on a bit of a mythical quality for my family. Thus, my attempt at recreation. The original did not include cherries, but they went well together with the apricots.

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