Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dessert As A Provincial Peasant: Almond, Apricot, Cream Cheese Crostata

My parents came to visit this weekend and knowing that my mom LOVES apricots, I finally had a reason to pull out this recipe that I had clipped back in August of 2006. This is my favorite kind of food/dessert--the kind of rustic tart you'd eat if you were sitting at a cafe in Europe. The kind of dessert your European relatives would make. The kind that looks imperfect, but tastes wonderfully home-made.

I love the combination of almonds and apricots (think of an apricot seed and that flavor). This recipe is adapted because 1) I was in a hurry and misread only needed the egg yolk, HALF the package of almond paste and 3 ounces (not 4) of cream cheese and 2) I did not have apricot preserves and had to use mixed berry jam/preserves. Didn't matter. Still really good. Here's the original in case you want to read the reviews. And no, I did not find the almond flavoring to be overwhelming despite my misreading of the directions.

Oh, what is a crostata, you might ask? An Italian, rough-looking, free-form fruit and/or cheese pie.


1 (7-ounce) log almond paste
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
4 ounces cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 refrigerated pie crust (half of 14 or 15-ounce package), room temperature
5 to 6 large apricots, quartered, pitted
1/4-1/3 cup apricot jam (or other jam)
3 crushed amaretti cookies (Italian macaroons)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Blend first 5 ingredients in processor until finely chopped. Blend until filling is smooth. This is what my can of almond paste looked like in case you don't find a "log":

Unroll crust on heavy rimmed baking sheet. Spread filling over crust, leaving 1 1/2-inch plain border--no, I did not measure--that's crazy thinking. Arrange apricot quarters, rounded side down, in spoke pattern in 2 concentric circles atop filling (as you can see, I had to go willy-nilly with my apricots).

Fold dough border up over edge of filling.

Heat jam in microwave so it will be easier to work with and brush the exposed apricots with warm jam (I love to use a silicone brush so no brush hairs remain in my food).

Bake crostata until crust is golden brown and apricots seem tender and slightly browned (or when jam goes all over the place and the crostata looks provincially messy), about 43 minutes (seriously, did not time it, but that is VERY exact and directly from the written recipe).

Sprinkle with crushed amaretti. What do those look like? Here:

Cool the crostata for 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

It's really good. No ice-cream needed...unless you want to go WAY over the top. Serve with some good coffee on the side, if possible.

Makes about 8 servings. So good!

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