Peach, Plum & Pecan Tart
What a week. Carson and I have a habit of packing a *little* too much activity into our summers -- and it's a blessing to be able to hop into the mountains for a camping weekend whenever we want -- and more often than not, we find ourselves exhausted by the time Sunday night rolls around and we're preparing for work the next morning. We live for the weekends, and I suppose the majority of people who live in Colorado do, so we go overboard with the plans whenever we can.
This past weekend, we camped outside Leadville and climbed Colorado's highest 14er (and the highest peak in the contiguous U.S., right next to Mt. Whitney), Mount Elbert. The hike was no joke, as you can imagine -- and while the two of us are former Division I athletes and hike almost every weekend, we were both gasping for air by the time we reached the top -- a mere 5 mile trek each way, but 4,000 feet of elevation gain. The views and our sense of accomplishment were well-worth the feat:
Isn't Colorado spectacular?
Preparing for the trip up-front and then recovering from it on Sunday were the brunt of the experience. There's a good bit of planning that goes into a successful camping trip (Carson and I learned this the hard way after our first trip went completely awry - we didn't prepare correctly at all), and there's a good bit of cooking that goes into it as well (unless you pack some delicious backpacking meals, which are actually delicious; I'm not being sarcastic). And then of course there's the packing, where you always forget something and most of the time it's something small but other times (like this time) you forget to pack your rain jacket, which is probably the absolute worst item you could forget to pack for a Colorado hike above treeline. We made pretty good time. But in the last mile of the hike down (thank goodness), the clouds rolled in, thunder started sounding... and then came the rain. Luckily, I date a gentleman who gave me his rain jacket to wear while he got soaked, and we made it back to camp just in time for the clouds to clear and to take a dip in the river. Later, we heard that a nasty hailstorm blew over the summit just a few hours after we returned. PHEW. (And that's why you start early, folks.)
We made it back home safe and sound. And for some reason, I was dying to make a tart. I couldn't pinpoint the reason why -- maybe it was because I felt summer was dwindling down and I hadn't even begun taking advantage of peaches -- but I knew I had to make one. And this peach, plum & pecan tart was born, pretty much completely out of the blue.
The base and the fruit were inspired by Half Baked Harvest (who is an absolute inspiration to anyone who enjoys baking), but instead of using store-bought puff pastry, this recipe uses a homemade shortbread crust, and the fruit is topped with a fluffy, toasty meringue. I also arranged the fruit slices in a different pattern, but of course you can arrange yours however you like! And I'm sure this would be just as delicious with store-bought puff pastry, so if you're short on time, it's an excellent alternative.
Peach, Plum & Pecan Tart
Prep time: 40 minutes | Bake time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 slices
For the crust:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
For the filling:
1/2 cup pecans
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
4 ripe peaches
4 ripe plums
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the meringue:
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray a 10-inch springform pan with baking spray. Using your hands or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all ingredients until the mixture becomes moist and very crumbly.
Using damp hands, press the dough into the bottom of the prepared 10-inch plate. No need to go up the sides. Dock the dough with a fork all over, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crust is lightly golden and puffed. Set aside to cool completely.
Slice the peaches and plums very thinly and set aside. In a food processor, blend the pecans, butter, salt and egg yolk until the mixture is mostly smooth. Spread the mixture onto the bottom of the cooled shortbread crust, and then top with the sliced plums and peaches (arrange however you like). Combine the honey and the vanilla in a small bowl, and drizzle the mixture over the tart.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, and allow to cool completely before topping with meringue (if desired).
For the meringue: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on low speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium-high, then add the sugar one tablespoon at a time.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a steady simmer, and set the bowl of meringue over the saucepan, making sure it doesn't touch the water. Whisk gently for 3-5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved - dip your fingers in the meringue and rub them together. If the meringue feels gritty, continue to whisk - if it is smooth, remove from the heat.
Beat the meringue on high speed for another 5-6 minutes, until stiff, glossy peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with the star tip, and pipe the meringue decoratively over the cooled tart. Torch meringue using a blowtorch or set in a preheated broiler for a few minutes.
Serve immediately or keep refrigerated for 2-3 days.