Monday, August 20, 2012
Gift certificates are a gas! There’s something about spending someone else’s money that makes me feel like experimenting.
When two of our friends gave me a gift certificate to a baker’s supply house, I went gaga.
French bread pans? Into the cart. Gallon of imitation vanilla extract? Pass, but the custard cups look interesting.
I ooh’ed and ah’ed my way through the store, finding reasons to stroll past the 10-pound block of caramel several times.
Once I got my new collection of exotic pans home, I had to figure out what to do with them.
I started with the charmingly named Mary Ann pan. It looks like a pie pan with a slightly raised bottom. Inspiration came in the form of a bag of peaches. Tart time!
I knew I wanted almonds to figure in the recipe somewhere, so I ran 1 cup of sliced almonds through a grinder and dumped the results in my mixer bowl.
I added 4 ounces of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter cut into small pieces, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 tablespoon of vanilla. These got run together until they were reasonably smooth.
To this I added 1 1/2 cups of flour, a little at a time, and mixed until I had a nice firm dough.
I greased the Mary Ann pan and patted the dough into it, all the way to the edges. Into the freezer it went for 15 minutes while I peeled and diced half a dozen medium peaches (about 3 cups) and the oven heated up to 350 degrees.
The pan disappeared into the oven for 30 minutes while the topping was prepared. The peaches went into a small saucepan, along with 1 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. The whole mess was stirred and boiled until it was good and thick, and then I set it aside to cool slightly.
When the timer went off, I inverted the crust onto a pizza pan. Not glamorous, but it was the only thing I had that was flat enough, large enough and ovenproof. Go with what works.
I carefully spooned the peach topping into the indented part of the crust. Very carefully. Boiling fruit really hurts when it lands on your skin, and it sticks like glue.
Back into the oven slid the tart, for about 7 minutes. The timer beeped, and there it was. Reminding myself that nobody likes third-degree mouth burns, I reluctantly put the tart in the fridge to chill overnight.
You don’t have to, though.
Serve this tart warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or at room temperature with a glass of milk. For a little pizazz, sprinkle the top with sliced almonds.
If you’re 4, you can pester your mom about it. “Want pizza? I want da fwoot pizza, please!”
However you slice it, this tart is a fun way to get to know your Mary Ann pan.
— Audrey Lintner can be reached at email@example.com.