This universe is vast and full of mysteries, replete with bosons, gluons, quarks and other micro-matter. So Steve understands that, possibly on some subatomic level, there could exist a condition known as “too much pie.” This theoretical event horizon, however, exists beyond any pie plate Steve might find himself within reach of. Not that Steve will eat an entire pie in one sitting—that would be gluttonous (besides Steve has usually stuffed himself on savories by the time dessert rolls around). But excess pie (along with crumble, cake and countless other good things) can expose one of the scientific controversies of Gourmandistan: the half-life of leftovers.
Michelle may stand for one reheated “second serving” of pies or crumbles, believing the pastry, fruit and other components can’t match their just-from-the-oven excellence. Steve, on the other hand, can enjoy a cobbler for days—the soggy bits of pastry, soppy juices and deflated bits of fruit eaten as extra desserts, late night snacks or yogurt topping. He will usually not push the envelope of eatability too far, so we still see (in Steve’s mind, at least) too many good things go to the chickens. The solution? Shrink a classic French tart and give it a twist with some blueberries (you froze some last summer, didn’t you?), almonds and a sassy hit of almond liqueur. These little babies are big enough to split, yet small enough to eat out of hand when they’re a day or two old—at least, if you’re Steve and believe affinage pastry can be just about as good as fresh-baked.
BLUEBERRY ALMOND TARTS
(makes four 4-1/2″ tarts)Pie crust dough for a one-crust pie (such as this pâte brisée recipe) 1 large egg 5 TB sugar 1/2 c. crème fraîche 1/4 c. heavy cream 1 t. vanilla extract 1-1/2 TB Amaretto or other almond liqueur 1/4 c. finely ground almonds 2 c. blueberries Confectioners’ sugar (optional) Equipment needed: four 4-1/2″ tart pans with removable bottoms. (NOTE: You can make this recipe into one 10″ or 10-1/2″ tart. Add a few more blueberries, and increase cooking time accordingly.)
Preheat oven to 375°.
Divide pie crust dough into four equal parts and shape into disks. After chilling in refrigerator, roll out one disk on a lightly floured sheet of waxed paper, to a circle a couple of inches larger than the tart pan you are using. Transfer the rolled-out dough to a tart pan, patting into the corners and loosely up the sides. Trim the overhang, leaving about 1/2″ to 3/4″ outside the pan circumference. Fold over and push the dough into the sides of the pan, making sure that the dough sides are slightly higher than the rim of the pan. Prick the crust with the tines of a fork and refrigerate or freeze. Continue with the remaining three dough disks.
Line the pie crusts loosely with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place them on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights and continue to bake for 8-10 minutes more, until the crusts are lightly browned all over. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
Whisk egg, sugar, crème fraîche, cream, vanilla and Amaretto together in a bowl.
Arrange the blueberries in the partially-baked crusts. Pour the filling mixture over.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the middle of the oven, until filling is set and crusts are browned. Cool on a rack. When cool, remove tart rings.
Sift confectioners’ sugar over before serving, if desired.