This is one of the simplest of all tarts just a pate brisee crust and a custard filling and it’s the best kind of comfort food there is. The custard is cooked twice, once on the stovetop and then in the tart shell. The tart takes a long time to bake because of the amount of filling, but to achieve the supple texture that makes a custard so exquisite, be careful not to overbake it. The filling should still have a very slight jiggle at the center; it will continue to cook when removed from the oven.
- Yield: 8 to 10 Servings
- 18 small ripe apricots, halved lengthwise and pitted
- ½ cup + 1½ tablespoons (150 grams) Eggs
- ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons (100 grams) Egg yolks
- 1½ cups (300 grams) Granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon (75 grams) Custard powder
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon (75 grams) Cornstarch
- 6 cups (1.5 kilograms) Whole milk
For the Tart Shell
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (standard). Line a sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment paper. Brush the ring lightly with canola oil.
- Following the instructions on page 130, roll out the dough, line the cake ring, and fill it with raw rice. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the edges of the dough are lightly browned and the bottom is set but still light in color. Remove the parchment and rice (store the rice for future use). Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely.
- Arrange the apricots cut side down in the bottom of the tart shell, overlapping them as necessary to fit in an even layer. (Depending on their size, you may not need all the apricots.) For the Flan
- Place the eggs, yolks, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to combine. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla beans, add them to the egg mixture, and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to distribute the seeds evenly. With the mixer running on the lowest setting, add the custard powder and the cornstarch and mix for 30 seconds to incorporate. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour in the milk. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large saucepan.
- Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking gently to prevent air bubbles. Boil for 1 minute, rotating the whisk around the edges of the pan to keep the mixture from scorching.
- Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl of the mixer. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for about 3 minutes to release steam and cool the mixture slightly.
- Pour the mixture over the apricots, to the very top of the shell; the filling will shrink as it bakes. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes. (Some of the filling may spill over the edges of the tart, but that will be removed later when the tart is trimmed.) The tart should have a dark brown skin on top and the filling should be set but still jiggle slightly when the pan is moved.
- Set the pan on a rack and let the tart cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Using a bench scraper or a sharp knife, scrape away the excess crust from the top of the ring. Tilt the ring on its side, with the bottom facing you, and run a small paring knife between the crust and the ring to release the tart. Set the tart down and carefully lift off the ring.
- Return the tart to the refrigerator until ready to serve. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, but the apricots may release some moisture after a day.
- Cut the cold tart into wedges, using a long slicing knife.