This recipe for a savory plum tart has been one of the more challenging ones I’ve worked on lately. The idea originally came from Steamy Kitchen‘s recipe for Chanterelle, Bacon and Plum Salad with Blue Cheese. I loved the idea of this recipe, especially roasting the plums and pairing them with bacon and thought it could work as a tart filling.
In my mind I concocted a recipe of plums, caramelized shallots, bacon and sour cream. However, over time and tastings it became plums, caramelized yellow onions, prosciutto, mascarpone cheese and basil, which morphed again to the final incarnation of plums, caramelized onions, mascarpone cheese, honey, balsamic vinegar and basil.
Busy day, right? It sure was but in such a rewarding way because the end result was fantastic. A rustic flaky, buttery crust topped with a thin layer of rich and tangy mascarpone cheese, sweet onions and tart plums made for an incredible sweet-savory bite. And the small drizzles of honey and balsamic vinegar with just a bit of fresh basil rounded it out perfectly.
The tart shell is actually the pâte brisée (pastry dough) recipe used for quiches in Mastering the Art of French Cooking but without sugar. Like the rest of the food world, I’ve been on a bit of Julia Child kick lately so why not use one of her tried and true recipes?
Sadly, I had to leave out the prosciutto and bacon, the flavors were just a bit too savory to work in the tart, but learning that was part of the fun. The only thing I can’t decide is whether the plum tart works best as an appetizer or dessert, but I’m leaning towards both.
Here’s the recipe:
Savory Plum Tart
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
2 firm plums, pitted and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cooked tart shell (see below)
1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan set over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and cook stirring often until soft and caramelized, about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove the onions from the pan.
Melt the butter in the pan then add the plums. Cook stirring often until lightly roasted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar and cook 2 minutes longer, then remove from the pan and cool to room temperature.
To assemble the tart begin by spreading the mascarpone cheese in a thin layer over the shell. Top with a layer of caramelized onions then arrange the plum slices in a fan shape. Drizzle the honey and balsamic vinegar over the top and garnish with thinly sliced basil. Serve at room temperature.
Pâte Brisée (pastry dough) from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, p. 139
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (3 ounces) unsalted butter + 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled and cubed
4 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon water
1/2 pound dried beans
*I made this using the food processor method described in the book but you could easily make it by hand. Use your finger tips to work in the butter but be sure to work quickly so it doesn’t melt.
Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cubed butter and pulse for about 5 seconds until well-combined. Pour in the ice water and pulse just until the dough forms a ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface for the fraisage, or final blending. Use the heel of you hand to smear the dough then form it into a ball and wrap in plastic. Freeze 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll out the dough onto a floured work surface to create a circle 1/8-inch thick. Invert a 9-inch plate over the dough to measure the size of the tart and cut out a circle. Set the dough onto a Silpat of piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Crimp the edges of the dough to make a decorative edge. Don’t worry if the tart doesn’t look perfect, it’s supposed to be rustic.
Set a piece of foil over the dough and fill with dried beans. Leave the edges exposed.
In a small bowl whisk together the egg and water. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the edges with egg wash.
Bake the tart dough for 8 minutes. Remove the foil with the dried beans and use a fork to dock the bottom of the tart. Return the tart to the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.