Black Plum Tarts with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

By Beacon Staff

The perfect time for having this simple yet delicious dessert is in the middle of June, just weeks before black plums reach their peak of sweetness. At this time of the year, the tartness of the plums perfectly complements vanilla bean ice cream and its richness. This dessert is best when served directly from the oven to the dinner table.

Yield: 8 servings
Begin by preparing the sugar brulee and quick puff pastries ahead of time.
You will need:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
3 to 4 black plums (or nectarines if black plums are not available), peeled, pitted and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
2 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
1/2 cup very cold water

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Combine sugars, and mix well. Spread evenly onto a baking sheet pan. Place pan in oven, and let dry for about one hour. Transfer mixture to a blender. Process sugars to a fine powder.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Slowly add 2 1/4 cups of butter, working it into flour with two forks (using fingers will make the butter too soft). The consistency should resemble coarse crumbs. Add water, and stir. There will be chunks of butter in the dough. (In French pastries, this dough is called Pate Breese.) Cover in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator, and let rest for one hour. Roll pastry dough onto a freeform rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Using a 3 3/4-inch round cutter or a sharp knife, cut out eight circles. Re-roll the dough again if necessary to cut enough circles. Carefully transfer circles to an ungreased baking sheet. Prick with a fork.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut remaining butter into small pieces. Using 1 1/2 black plums per tart, fan plum slices on the pastry rounds. Sprinkle each generously with sugar brulee, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Repeat with another sprinkle the sugar brulee followed by dotting the plums with butter. Bake another 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Yield: 1 1/2 quarts
You will need:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
10 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tahitian vanilla beans, split length
8 large egg yolks

In a double boiler, combine cream, milk, 5 tablespoons of sugar and vanilla beans. Whisk until sugar has dissolved. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks with remaining sugar. Slowly add hot cream mixture to beaten egg mixture. Place combined mixture over double boiler, and whisk to make custard. The consistency should coat a wooden spoon. Be sure to avoiding heating over 165 degrees to prevent ice cream from becoming gummy. Strain through a sieve into a bowl. Using the tip of a small knife, scrape the tiny, black seeds of the vanilla beans into the custard. Place the bowl of custard into a large ice water bath. Chill for one hour. For best results, let custard sit overnight. When ready, place custard in ice cream machine freezer, and transfer to the freezer for about four hours.

I hope you enjoy this delightful treat. Please share your comments with me at chefhmk@gmail.com. Bon Appétit!

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