Plum job: These elegant dessert tarts are the ideal use of in-season fruit
Plums, soft almond frangipane and crispy puff pastry are a match made in heaven
Plums in puff pastry. Photograph: Harry Weir Photography
The idea behind the name tartes fines is that they are thin tartlets, compared with the deep-filled fruit tarts with crème pâtissière you regularly see in patisserie windows. That said, they make very elegant dessert tarts. They also look a little more modern in square shapes.
Tartes fines are commonly made with apples; in the cookery school we call these Normandy tartlets. But when plums are in season, there are few better things you can do with them. The combination of plums with soft almond frangipane and crispy puff pastry is a match made in heaven. Plum trees and almond trees are part of the same family, and their flavours marry wonderfully.
The tartlets are baked quickly in a hot oven, so the plum slices roast a little without drying out, their flavour is intensified and their juices caramelise. Plums that are neither over-ripe nor under-ripe work best in this recipe. Shop-bought plums tend towards under-ripe, but the sweet frangipane filling will counteract any tartness.
Plums, greengages and damsons grow very well in our climate. If you have a plum tree in the garden (and can manage not to eat them all straight from the tree), you will want to make lots of these, as they are so quick and easy. As the plums are sliced, it doesn’t matter if the fruits are less than perfect to start with. You can cut out bruised sections and slice the remaining fruit for the tartlets.
They are best served warm, with the sugared top glistening and burnished, and the pastry still crispy from the oven. If you don’t have redcurrant jelly you could use any red fruit syrup or warmed raspberry jam. Serving these tarts straight from the oven with a dollop of whipped cream will give you the added pleasure of tasting the pastry while it still retains its crunch.
PLUM TARTES FINES
1 sheet puff pastry, 30cm x 20cm (defrosted, if frozen)
4-6 ripe plums
50g butter, room temperature
50g caster sugar (plus extra)
1 whole egg
50g ground almonds
10g plain flour
1 egg yolk, for basting pastry
40g redcurrant jelly
150ml whipped cream
1. Roll out the puff pastry rectangle. Use a sharp knife to cut the pastry into six even-sized squares (about 10cm x 10cm). Transfer the squares on to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Lightly score an inner square, 1cm from each side, taking care to avoid cutting through the pastry (this light scoring allows the outer pastry edges to rise). Use a fork to lightly prick holes in the centre of the pastry.
2. To make the frangipane filling, use a wooden spoon to beat together the butter and sugar until it is pale. Slowly whisk in the whole egg, followed by the ground almonds and flour.
3. Spread a tablespoon of frangipane mixture on to the inner square of each pastry base. Refrigerate for 10 minutes while you prepare the plums.
4. To prepare the fruit, use a knife to cut along the slightly indented line on the plum indicating where the stone lies. Gently prise the plum into two halves and then use the tip of the knife to gently lever out the stone. Finely slice the plums into thin rounds or half moons, depending on how ripe the plums are. Arrange overlapping plum slices on the filling. Sprinkle a little extra sugar over the fruit.
5. Use a pastry brush to brush egg yolk over the outer pastry rim of each tart.
6. Bake the tarts in an oven preheated to 180 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes until both the pastry and frangipane are risen and golden.
7. Once the tarts are out of the oven, warm the redcurrant jelly and use to glaze the surface of the fruit.
8. Serve immediately with whipped cream.
Use a large round scone cutter to cut large circles instead of squares.