Fresh Peach Tart with Maple-Almond Dates and Vanilla Bean Mascarpone
I want to be a person who preserves food. I want to decorate winter holiday meals with canned fruits and vegetables from our summer garden. I want to remember packing away those beets or green beans when they reemerge to light up a meal. I want to remember washing the dirt off them and carefully storing them away. I don't know, I just think food preservation is a gorgeous hobby. It has, perhaps unsurprisingly, taken over our kitchen this summer. I'll be grateful for the obsession in the winter, of that I'm sure, but right now it's a timing game. I picked up half a bushel of ripe, firm peaches from the market that were ready to can and I was ready to can them. Yet, as it happens, sometimes evening plans shift and suddenly Mark and I were cleaning up another round of basement flooding. Side note: so much rain this summer has been wretched for our basement and tomato plants, but the greens and broccoli are hanging on longer, so there's an upside. Anyway, the peaches shifted from ripe, but firm to too ripe to can, so I frozen most of them and turned the rest into this fresh peach tart.
A person cannot delicately eat ripe peaches. It's inevitable that juice cascades down your arms to a backdrop of unavoidable slurping noises. I can't help but think of the beautiful, childlike messiness evoked in one of the final lines in T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, "Do I dare to eat a peach?"
This tart takes advantage of that perfect, messy ripeness by using fresh peaches instead of cooked. The chopped dates and maple syrup turn into rich, chewy caramel with crunchy almonds folded into the mix. It's layered on top of a buttery crust and beneath vanilla bean mascarpone and fresh peaches for a mix of textures that bring out best in each separate layer. Life gave me a flooded basement and postponed canning peaches, but I'm thrilled with this fresh peach tart! -Mallory
For the crust:
This crust is slightly adapted from Alice Medrich's tart crust in Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, a book I highly recommend! She uses this particular crust for a lemon curd tart among others.
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon bourbon whiskey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine meted butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together flour and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture and stir until just combined. Press evenly into a lightly-greased 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. It takes a bit of time to work the dough evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the entire pan, but it's fairly cathartic, so there's a plus. Place the tart pan onto a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
Let the tart cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, put together the remaining layers.
For the maple-almond dates:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup almonds, roasted
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons maple syrup
flaky maldon sea salt
Grind the roasted almonds in a food processor until finely chopped. In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped dates and sauté for a minute. Add the maple syrup then cook for another 2 minutes, while using the back of a spatula to mash the date spread into a paste. Remove from heat and fold in the ground almonds. Spread onto the cooled tart crust then sprinkle lightly with maldon sea salt.
For the vanilla bean mascarpone:
8 ounce mascarpone cheese
1 vanilla pod
Split the vanilla pod and scrap out the seeds. Mix it together with the mascarpone until well combined. Spread onto the dates.
For the fresh peaches:
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon raw sugar
3 cups sliced peaches
Whisk together lemon zest and juice with the raw sugar, then pour it onto the peaches. Arrange the peach slices onto the tart, beginning at the outside and working in toward the middle, overlapping each slice until you reach the center. Serve the tart immediately or chill until ready to serve.