Thank goodness that we had a bountiful plum harvest. I suppose I’ll have to thank the squirrels for that.
Unlike the birds, (actually one very clever mockingbird) who—despite all the netting–managed to get 95% of our blueberry crop, the squirrels were equitable. They gave us a fifty-fifty cut of the plum share–more than enough to make this delicious tart—-and plenty of other plumgood things.
I also picked these beauties just as they were getting that first blush, and allowed them to ripen in a great bowl in my kitchen. This helped keep things fair and balanced (!) with our bushy-tailed friends.
(Blueberries, regrettably, won’t continue to ripen once picked. Birds could care less.)
I enjoyed monitoring the plum ripening process; the colors ranged from light green to red violet. Spectacular.
It’s pretty simple to prepare the plums. I wash and stem them, then toss them whole into a large pot. I add a cup of water, a cup of sugar, turn the heat on low, and allow them to simmer. Over time, the juices come out, the skin dissolves, and the pulp cooks and thickens. You can add more sugar if you like. I start out with a small amount, in case I want to use the mixture in something savory. You can always make it sweeter.
Eventually, you’ll have a batch of cooked plums, with pits that are not difficult to fish out of the pot. It’s thick, tangy, and ready to use for preserves, sauces, or vinaigrettes.
Or, this luscious tart.
I was inspired by a posting on Joy of Cooking foodblog. Joy Ramirez presented an Italian sweet pastry crust recipe that she uses with marmalade—-crostata di marmellata. I thought this could be perfect to use with my plums, although my preserves as filling on their own might be too much. Then, I recalled a cream cheese pie that I used to make. If my preserves were cooked as both base and topping with an almond cream cheese filling, it could be just right.
It’s rich, and a little different, in a good way. I love the look of the plum stripes against the cream; the stripe at the bottom of the tart takes people by surprise. I brought it to a party recently; one of the guests eating a piece said, “This is ridiculous!” In a good way.
Sweet Italian Pastry Crust (makes enough for 2 crusts)
12 T. chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 cups all purpose flour
2 T. icy water
In a food processor outfitted with a pastry cutter, pulse together all the ingredients, until it forms a large mass. Divide the dough in half, form into balls, and wrap in plastic. (You may freeze the additional doughball.)
Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (can be made up ahead the day before.)
Almond Cream Filling
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 t. almond extract
Mix all ingredients until well blended.
1 1/2–2 cups Plum Preserves
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
Roll out pie crust and fit over pie or tart pan, pressing and crimping.
Spread about 1 cup of plum preserves over the bottom of the tart.
Add almond cream cheese filling.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. When the top feels set, spoon remaining plum mixture over the top, spreading it so that it covers entirely. Sprinkle with almonds and return the tart
to the oven to cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the tart to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.