Literary Feasts: Dracula, My Love by Syrie James

I love tarts.  Love them.  I think they were probably the first “sophisticated” dessert that I developed a taste for, which tells you something about my eating habits as a child. I was a very finicky eater. My mom often had to cook two versions of a dish so that I would have something to eat. Beans without tomato sauce or okra, soup without carrots, meat not smothered in gravy, only chocolate milk, pb&j without crusts…you get the picture.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash.

Before I ventured into tarts, I think it was pretty much cake, cookies, doughnuts and apple pie. Very plain stuff.  My how things have changed.  There is very little that I won’t eat nowadays.  But that is another story for another post.

While I was reading Dracula, My Love, by Syrie James I came across this passage where I discover that Mina is a fellow tart lover.  Her favorite is plum, which I don’t think I have ever had before.  I have had the ones with assorted fruits and I have made blackberry and raspberry tarts for dinner guests.

After luncheon, we strolled down the main street of the village in a light-hearted mood.  When Jonathan saw that the baker’s shop was selling miniature plum tarts (my life-long favorite), he insisted on purchasing some.  We consumed the delicious treats on a bench in a little park overlooking the river , where we tossed morsels of crust to the ducks and geese gathered at our feet on the grassy bank.

 

For a dinner party that I hosted earlier this year, I made a very easy tart and it turned out to be quite yummy. The one that I made was very simple, but I came across this more elaborate one from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) on the Food Network.

Plum Tart Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), diced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 pounds firm, ripe Italian prune plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly.

Press 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2-inch springform or tart pan. Arrange the plums in the pan, skin side down, to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.

Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums. Bake the tart for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it’s lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

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