Friday, September 28, 2012

Peachy Apricot Hand Tarts with Brown Butter Crust for #baketogether

Peachy Apricot Hand Tarts in a Brown Butter Pastry

Every time I bake with browned butter, I ask myself, “Why don’t I do this more often?” The kitchen smells warm and enticing for hours, and the resulting baked goods have that pronounced buttery flavor.

I am so excited about this pastry dough that Abby Dodge created for the hand tarts in September's #baketogether. For one, it’s full of flavor, the browned butter and brown sugar lending a butterscotch note that is the perfect match for the jammy peach apricot filling I used.

The texture veers close to cookie domain, tender instead of flaky, but not quite as crumbly as a cookie. If you are a baker for who finds flaky pastry somewhat elusive, you might like to try this recipe.

What makes it easy is that, instead of working with freezer-cold chunks of butter, you start with the melted browned butter and from there add the rest of the ingredients. Again, more like a cookie dough than the usual pie crust techniques. (I like this dough so much that I already have ideas for how to use it in other recipes. Stay tuned.)

Rolling and filling the tarts took a little patience, but was not as messy as I feared. Parchment paper on both sides of the pastry is essential. Don’t even think of trying to roll this on a counter.

As I made each tart, I put it in the refrigerator to chill before baking The dough warms up rather quickly and is more prone to tearing the warmer it gets.

For my filling, I used a combination of homemade peach jam made with this old-fashioned recipe plus some late-season apricots. I didn’t want the filling to be too liquid, which is why I used peach jam to provide body. To the apricots I added a couple tablespoons of honey and reduced all this until the fruit had given up some of their moisture.

I absolutely loved these little tarts and I think you will, too. Do pay a visit to Abby's website and see her  Brown Butter Apple Hand Tarts as well as the pastries prepared by other #baketogether bakers.

Peachy Apricot Hand Tarts with Brown Butter Crust
adapted from Abby Dodge

Makes 18 hand tarts

For the brown butter dough
16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup (7 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups (13 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

For the peachy apricot filling
Peach jam, homemade or store bought
4 apricots
1 to 2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
Pinch of table salt

For assembly
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon water
Turbinado or demerara or sanding sugar

Make the brown butter dough
Put the butter in a large saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until nutty brown and the milk solids are dark brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Slide the pan from the heat and add the brown sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar is almost dissolved, then set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Using your fingertip, check the temperature of the batter. It should be warm but not hot. If it’s hot, set the pan aside for a few more minutes before continuing with the recipe.

Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until well blended. Add the flour and stir until a smooth, soft dough forms.

Arrange two pieces of plastic wrap on the counter and scrape the dough onto the center of one. Divide the dough in half (about 14 3/4 ounces each) and put half on the second piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic as a guide, shape both into 5-inch squares.Wrap in the plastic and set aside at room temperature until firm enough to roll, about 3 hours. (You can pop the dough into the refrigerator for a hour or so, but you don’t want the dough to be too chilled. It would be impossible to roll.)

Prepare the apricots
Place apricots and honey in a small saucepan and heat on medium until the fruit releases its juices a bit. Remove from heat and let cool. Add the almond extract if you’re using it.

Assemble and bake
Line two cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick liners. Put the egg and water in a small bowl and, using a fork, mix until well blended.

Working with one piece of dough at a time on a lightly floured piece of parchment. This dough is soft, so the parchment is a must for successful rolling. Roll out to a rectangle slightly larger than 9×15 inches. Using a sharp paring knife and a rule, trim the edges to get a neat 9×15-inch rectangle, then cut into 3 x 2 1/2-inch rectangles (for a total of 18 rectangles). Arrange the pastry rectangles about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets and cover with plastic. Roll out and cut the second piece of dough as you did the first one.

Uncover the dough on one of the cookie sheets. Spoon a little less than 1 tablespoon of the peach jam onto the center of each rectangle and spread down the center, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the edges. Top this with about 1 teaspoon of apricots. Using a small pastry brush, brush the edges of each rectangle with egg wash. Lay the remaining rectangles over the filling. Using the tines of a fork, press (or crimp) the pastry edges to seal. Lightly brush the top of each hand tart with egg wash. Using the tip of a small, sharp knife, cut 2 small slits in the top of each hand tart for the steam to escape. Sprinkle the tops with some of the turbinado sugar and slide the cookie sheets into the fridge while the oven heats up. (I forgot this step.)

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

Bake, one sheet at a time, until the tarts are dark brown on the edges, about 19 to 21 minutes. Move the sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the tarts from the sheet and set them on a wire rack and let cool until warm or cool completely. The tarts are best when served at room temperature or slightly warmed.


  1. Mmm... having now gotten myself hooked on the brown butter dough, I want to put everything in it. I think apricot and peaches would be a lovely contrast to the buttery nutty taste of the crust. Great idea!

  2. I made some mac and cheese today and the sauce started with butter...which I browned. I see absolutely no reason not to brown butter each and every time the instructions already have me melting it. Seems reasonable don't you think?

    I didn't make these and wish I had; have been craving them ever since I first saw them on Abby's site.


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