Tart Kumquat Tart
Groan, stupid title, I know. But it had to be done.
This was the tart I made for yesterday's pie party. The tart itself was only okay, but I thought the little kumquats look rather merry.
And for anyone eyeing my crust critically, it's supposed to be rustic.
To be honest, I wasn't crazy about the crust. I used this recipe (it's actually for a chocolate crust but I wanted something pure and simple, not chocolate and raspberries (don't be confused; see explanation below for what happened to the raspberries), so I substituted the cocoa powder for ground almonds--which, by the way, I find to be a very satisfactory substitution, if ever you come across a chocolate recipe that you want to unchocolatize. Wow, I believe I just invented a new word, probably because a normal human being could not conceive, I suppose, of wanting to take the chocolate out of something. I do love chocolate. But sometimes I come across a recipe I am amazed by, and I wonder how I can play with it, change the flavors, and sometimes this requires committing the act of unchocolatizing.). Anyhow, repeat: not crazy about the crust. It was soft. I like my tart crust to be a bit snappier, ever-so-sort-of like shortbread. Perhaps my clever idea of substituting ground almonds for cocoa powder isn't so clever when it comes to tart dough--but it does work beautifully for cakes, rest assured.
So, to be fair to my kumquat tart, perhaps it was simply a case of a pretty picture trapped in an ugly frame. Except that the filling...
For the filling, I used the recipe in Ruth Reichl's book Tender to the Bone, inspired by a luscious picture in the Amateur Gourmet's blog, and conveniently found here, under "Oleron Raspberry Tart (the best raspberry tart in the world)"--the parenthesized part remains to be tasted. Unfortunately, the recipe asks for 3/4 cup of whole almonds, which you are then supposed to grind up in the food processor that I don't possess, and so I bought ground almonds and kind of...guessed at the quantity. Another obstacle I encountered: no raspberries. Raspberries are painfully expensive in Japan and not in great demand; sometimes, in a specialty store, you might find a glass case of four berries nestled in white satin for a hundred dollars. Or something like that. We don't have them kinda stores where we live. But I spotted some kumquats and thought that using seasonal fruit would result in a better tasting tart anyway. Right?
Of course, when I got home, I first sampled a kumquat to reassure myself it would be acceptable in a tart, and
Anyhow, I spread the frangipane into the base of the blind-baked tart shell, cut the kumquats in half, deseeded them, and gently pressed them into the tart. Sprinkled a teaspoon of sugar over top and baked.
The frangipane turned out weird. Kind of black in the center, rather than the warm, golden brown I was anticipating. It was also rather dense--the result of too much ground almonds, I believe--kind of marzipanish. Tasty though. Just not what I wanted.
The kumquats were lovely after baking, jewel-toned and glowing. I thought they tasted pretty good in the tart, and I liked their bright, fresh aroma. My husband proclaimed their presence overwhelming. I think if I ever try this again, I'll slice the kumquats into thin disks instead. I just thought the kumquat halves would make for a prettier presentation.
(For anyone wondering why I didn't just use the pastry recipe for the raspberry tart, the Amateur Gourmet wrote that the dough made from Reichl's recipe was rather uncooperative, and so I went in search of an alternative, and found myself enticed by the chocolate crust instructions that claim: "Don't worry if the dough breaks; it can easily be repaired," which was a welcome change from most pie dough recipes that so happily tell you: "If you tear/stretch/so much as breathe on the dough, your pastry is DOOMED to cracker hell.")