Blenheim Apricot Tarts with Lavender

Blenheim Apricot Tarts with Lavender

Summer Seduction

Ripe Blenheim apricots

“What kind of tarts? I don’t know. But leave me a couple, will you?”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck

Inspiration

I went in search of the Blenheim Apricot. Once the darling of San Benito and Santa Clara counties production faded with the growth of imported apricots, urban development and big agriculture. B&R Farms in Hollister farms 100+ acres of Blenheim’s and has being doing so for 84 years. A fourth generation family business B&R Farms grows, harvests and packages the Blenheim as a dried apricot. I attended the summer harvest tour given by owner, Mari Rossi. Only during the height of the summer harvest is the highly perishable Blenheim sold as a fresh apricot. Sold only in twenty pound boxes, I came home with lots of apricots and plans for making jam. But first I made tarts.

Processing Blenheim apricots

The Blenheim is harvested with tinges of green that belie the intense apricot flavor hiding in the cantaloupe colored interior. Washed, cut, pitted, smoked in sulfur (to retain color and flavor) and dried in the hot Hollister sun the Blenheim is transformed into a radiant slice of summer to savor throughout the entire year. There is no comparison in the taste or color of a dried Blenheim to the pale, barely flavored imported apricots that we commonly find at our grocery stores.

Harvested Blenheim apricots

Drying Blenheim apricots

Dried Blenheim apricots

Essentials

I was seduced by the photo and recipe for Slim Apricot Tarts in Tender by Nigel Slater. The description of the tarts was enthralling. Capturing the essence of the apricots as they floated above a wisp of puff pastry was more than I could resist. Stubborn about taking shortcuts when baking I decided to make Quick Puff Pastry from Basic to Brilliant, Y’all by Virginia Willis. If making puff pastry is not on your agenda, frozen from the grocery store would be just as scrumptious. Although my Apricot Tarts do not look like the enchantress in Tender they do look like these. And they most certainly are intoxicating gems of deeply flavored Blenheim apricots cradled in a buttery crust. Dusted with the scent of lavender and a splash of crème fraîche the Blenheim Apricot Tarts are summer seduction.

Blenheim apricots

With a summer of lavender blooming in our yard I imagined a fragrant pairing with the Blenheim apricots. The aroma of gently simmering apricots with lavender and sugar made for an intoxicating morning of baking. I wouldn’t mind if my kitchen always smelled that sweet. Take care, too much lavender can be overpowering, medicinal and piney in flavor. But just a hint of lavender imparts a subtle floral whisper to the apricots. Always use lavender grown without chemicals or pesticides. If your dried lavender is fresh, a deep regal purple and strongly scented use 1 teaspoon. If your lavender is older, a pale violet with a mellow aroma use up to 1 tablespoon. Or leave out the lavender entirely, as in the original recipe from Nigel Slater. I made six, five inch tarts (instead of two, six inch tarts) using three apricots per tart. I used Blenheim apricots, but any ripe apricot with lots of flavor will make a enchanting summer tart.

Making tarts

Ingredients
18 fresh apricots
3T sugar
1t-1T dried culinary lavender
1/2 recipe easy puff pastry (or 1 pkg frozen puff pastry)
6T apricot jam
6t crème fraîche

Making Blenheim Apricot tarts

  1. Place the whole apricots in a saucepan with the sugar and dried lavender. Cover the apricots with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer to cook the apricots. The Blenheim apricots took twelve minutes to cook and become soft. The skin of the apricots will become wrinkled and some of the apricots will open. When cooked remove the apricots from the hot water to drain. When the apricots are cool, gently remove the skin and then the pit. Try to keep the apricots in halves as they will make an appearance on the tops of the tarts.
  2. Heat the oven to 425°. Heat a large sheet pan covered with parchment in the oven while you form the tarts.
  3. On a floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin roll out the puff pastry. For slim tarts the original recipe states to thinly roll out the dough 1/8” thick. I imagine a thicker base of puff pastry would be just as appealing. Cut out six, five inch circles. Score the edge of each circle with a knife. I followed the original instructions of 1/3”, but the border could be narrower. Keeping the apricots inside the the scored border of the tarts arrange the apricots, cut side down, across the tops of the tart dough.
  4. Use a large spatula to place the tarts on the hot sheet pan. Bake the tarts for 10-15 minutes until the puff pastry has browned along the edges of the tarts. Remove the tarts from the oven and brush generously with warmed apricot jam. Once cool, garnish with a drizzle of crème fraîche and lavender buds.

Ripe Blenheim apricots

Blenheim Apricot Tarts with Lavender

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37 Responses to Blenheim Apricot Tarts with Lavender

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    Gorgeous apricot photos! I so wish the season for them wasn’t so short. But I guess that’s just more incentive to enjoy them while I can. ;)

  2. Stunning. Summer on a plate.

  3. Absolutely gorgeous tarts, Deb! I love your pairing of apricots and lavender, so summery!

  4. Carol Sacks says:

    Stunning photos and your tarts are show-stoppers, Deb!

  5. Patty says:

    Beautiful apricot tarts Deb! Love all your apricot pictures too ;) Great minds think alike because I have also been bitten by the apricot bug this week and just can’t get enough! I really like your idea of these individual size tarts-I’m sure a real pleasure to serve and enjoy ;)

  6. Cathy says:

    Sounds like a lovely summery combination. :D Mouthwatering photos too!

  7. We really enjoyed your visit Deb! Thank you so much for getting the word out about the lovely Blenheim apricot, our farm and for supporting AG family businesses in our area with your stunning photos and stories & recipes. The apricot-lavender tarts look heavenly! It is obvious just how much you love doing “East of Eden Cooking” blog! You have a great talent and we are lucky our paths crossed! Keep up the wonderful work sharing your passion! Hope to see you again soon.

    • Deb says:

      Denise thank you so much for your hospitality! The Blenheim truly is a treasure and such a piece of our local food history, composing the post was a joy. I very much appreciate your lovely comment!

  8. shannon says:

    what a perfect, simple little tart; i love the little zigzag of cream over top. we only have really delicious apricots here for a very short (too short!) time here, so i like to make as much as i can with them.

  9. A basket of blushing apricots sits near me as I write this post. Apricots rank top on the list of my favorite fruits. I’m not sure that I’ve ever tasted a fresh picked Blenheim. With their delicate nature and short season, I doubt I have. You have piqued my interest. Those vibrant apricots sitting upon a flakey crust would make for “my” perfect summertime dessert.

    • Deb says:

      Blenheim’s really do have the best flavor, but they are elusive! Thank you for the scrumptious comment Mary!

  10. I can see why you were seduced by Nigel Slater, Deb…..or did you say the photo and recipe? :) Anyway…..you have totally seduced me with your delicious apricot delights…..the photography, the story, the recipe…..all just perfect, thank you.

  11. A layer of puff pastry and seasonal fruit on top is probably the best idea ever for an individual pie. So great this one is with apricots! Lovely pies Deb! I missed apricot season last year, but won´t happen again. I´m anxiously waiting for them to appear. And making quick puff pastry is a one way trip.

    • Deb says:

      Quick puff pastry was a revelation! No more challenging to make than a pie crust and with just a few more steps we have puffery! Thank you for the delicious comment Paula!

  12. Deb, your post, and your tart, make me want to jump on a plane and move to CA! Inspiring indeed… My mouth is watering!

  13. Valentina says:

    Deb, absolutely stunning photographs. I love all of them — especially the wooden fruit crates. And of course, I would like a bite of the tart immediately!

  14. Tiffany says:

    This dessert SCREAMS fragrant! AH-MAZE-ING! And absolutely stunning. :D

  15. I love dried apricots — but I’m partial because I’ll take apricots any way I can get them. Excellent photos and write up on the process — and the tart? Lovely flavors there.

  16. O wow! I can only imagine the pure delightful taste of sunshine on a plate….Those images are absolutely stunning……and PS I love Nigel too:~))

  17. Apricots are so amazing, but their season is way too short. These tarts are beautiful and sound like a lovely dessert!

  18. Oh I too love Nigel Slater’s wonderful recipes in Tender, and Ripe and Quick Desserts and all the gorgeous things he makes!

    You’ve done every single apricot justice in this tarts. They look gorgeous and I can imagine the heady, almost sensual taste of Provence in the lavender! You have a way…..

  19. Pingback: Tomatoes with Bread Pudding and Roasted Carrot Salad | East of Eden Cooking

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