Tuesday, July 2, 2013

the perfect summer dessert

Summer always makes me eat just a little bit healthier, particularly when it comes to the end of a meal. The rest of the year you can always count on me to choose a chocolate dessert (usually a giant brownie) when I have the option, but when the thermometer starts topping out at 90+ degrees, I switch gears and go for something a tad lighter. Don't get me wrong; I don't want just fruit for dessert--let's not get crazy--but a side of fruit with my ice cream is a nice touch.

There are so many fruit desserts out there: cobblers, pies, crumbles, brown betties, crisps, slumps (yes, that's a thing). Who can keep up? I think I've tasted them all at least once, but I couldn't tell you the difference if I tried. No matter now, though, because I've found the perfect summer dessert. Like most of my favorite recipes, it's infinitely adaptable--replace the pistachios with almonds and the grapes with cherries, or go for peanuts and strawberries--whatever you have around, really. The great thing about roasting fruit is that it actually does better when it's a day or two past its prime, so feel free to make this when you bought one basket of peaches too many and you just can't finish them before they go soft.

If you're in charge of dessert for a 4th of July celebration, I promise people will love this. If they don't, you can complain to me...and please send along the leftovers.

goat cheese tart with roasted grapes & pistachio crust
adapted from food & wine
makes one 9-inch tart, 8-10 servings

1/2 c shelled pistachios
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
3 c red seedless grapes
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
8 oz soft goat cheese at room temperature
2 1/2 c Greek yogurt (whole milk or 2%)
Juice and zest of one lemon
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/4 c honey
whipped cream to top (optional)

Make the pistachio crust: pulse pistachios in a food processor until finely ground. Beat butter and sugar on medium speed until pale, about one minute. Add ground pistachios, almond extract, and salt, and beat until combined. Add flour and beat on low speed until incorporated and the dough is crumbly.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Scrape the dough into a fluted 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. (A pie pan also works fine if that's all you have.) Using the bottom of a glass, press dough into the pan so the bottom and sides are of relatively equal thickness. Prick the dough all over with a fork, then bake until fragrant and golden brown, 40-45 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

Meanwhile, roast the grapes. Turn your oven up to 400, and toss grapes with olive oil and kosher salt. Roast until grapes are softened and have begun to caramelize, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

By now your crust should be relatively cool, so go ahead and make the tart filling. Beat goat cheese, yogurt, and lemon juice and zest in a medium bowl on medium speed until combined. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Scrape the filling into the crust, and top with cooled roasted grapes (make sure you get all of the delicious olive oil-grape juice syrup on there, too!). Refrigerate for at least two hours or as long as overnight.

Just before serving, heat the honey in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it begins to boil. (Food & Wine recommends getting it to 236 degrees, but I don't think you have to get that particular). Pour the warm honey over the tart and let it soak in for about 5 minutes. Cut into slices and serve.(You'll need a pretty serious knife for this...the crust is pretty substantial.) I topped each slice with a dollop of thyme-infused whipped cream, and it was absolutely perfect.

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