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I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

Plum Crazy


I promise this will be the last plum inspired post. I'm not sure who will be more glad of that - you, the reader, or me. I had just enough plums left over after my jam session for another kitchen project or two. One, of course being the purple ice cream (which still needs to be tasted - I will make it my priority to do so for my afternoon snack) and the rest of the plums will live a happy life as a beautiful Plum and Goat Cheese Tart. I had originally decided that I wanted to make something from the Once Upon A Tart cookbook, but since my fruit was so small I knew they wouldn't make a pretty dessert tart and what's the point of spending so much time on something that you know won't achieve all that it should be? I was surfing the internet looking for other plum inspired recipes and found this one. I knew in an instant that my plums were destined to become this. How did I know? It contained GOAT CHEESE!

My kitchen staff gets so tired of me harping about goat cheese. I love the stuff! Captain Sturm commented just the other day that I needed to have a goat farm because I eat so much of it. Lucky for me, he likes it too. I remember when I first started catering and was asked to quote a menu for a dinner party. I labored over which of my best recipes to pull together for a nice meal. I decided to give her a couple of options to choose from because I, myself, simply couldn't choose either. When I spoke with her about what she had decided on, she also assumed that I must own a goat farm because I had so many things on the menu featuring goat cheese. Okay, so maybe I'm a little too enthusiastic about that stuff. I love the tangy taste and the smooth, creamy texture. My favorite way to enjoy it is to dip in olive oil and then into seasoned bread crumbs. Heat in the oven just until it gets gooey and then put it on top of a mesculan green salad. YUM to the highest degree.

Usually when I look at a recipe and it has more than one or two steps or procedures involved, I bypass it. I guess sometimes I just don't trust my own abilities at tackling a "complicated" recipe. Well, that is going to change. I'm growing tired of Sandra Lee type recipes. Not that this one was complicated by any means, but it was time consuming. Don't think you're going to come home from work and whip this up right quick for dinner. From start to finish, it took about 4 hours and I didn't start on it until 4:30 so I had a very late dinner. That's okay because Captain Sturm is out of town for the rest of the week so I can eat on the couch at midnight in my pajamas if I want to.


PLUM TART WITH GOAT CHEESE AND WALNUT-THYME STREUSEL

Adding fleur de sel at the end transforms this tart into a delicious cross between a cheese course and dessert.

Crust
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup walnuts (about 2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 egg yolk
7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Streusel
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup walnuts (about 3 ounces)
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Filling and topping
8 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
8 ounces (1 cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
4 large plums (about 1 pound), halved, pitted, cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges

Fleur de sel*

For crust:
Blend first 4 ingredients in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add butter; blend until coarse meal forms. Add egg yolk; blend until moist clumps form. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Cover; chill 1 hour.

For streusel:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend flour, walnuts, both sugars, coarse salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom in processor until nuts are finely ground. Add thyme and blend 5 seconds. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until small moist clumps form.

Spread streusel mixture on rimmed baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes. Stir, then continue baking until golden brown, about 7 minutes longer. Cool streusel completely (mixture will become crisp).

For filling and topping:
Combine both cheeses, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon oil, sugar, nutmeg, coarse salt, and pepper in large bowl; stir to blend well. Refrigerate while baking crust.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crust until sides are set, about 15 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Continue to bake crust until golden brown, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 15 minutes longer. Cool crust completely.

Spread cheese filling in crust. Arrange plums in concentric circles atop filling, leaving 3/4-inch plain border. Sprinkle streusel lightly over tart. Refrigerate tart at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

Remove pan sides; place tart on platter. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons honey and 2 tablespoons oil; sprinkle with fleur de sel. Cut tart into wedges.

*Fleur de sel, a sea salt from Brittany, can be found at specialty foods stores.

Makes 8 servings.

Bon App├ętit
September 2003

The crust came together very easily as did the streusel topping. I added 2 extra minutes to the streusel bake time. The topping made more than enough for this recipe so I put the rest of it in a zippy bag and will recycle it into another recipe. The streusel was a very tasty sweet & savory creation with the fresh thyme. I could also pick up the hint of the black pepper. I could have munched on it while my tart was finishing up.



While my tart didn’t look like the photo posted with the recipe because of the type of plums that I was using, I’ll have to say it has to be one of the prettiest things I’ve ever made. I think this would be excellent served as a first course or even as a light lunch with a salad (bet you’ll never guess what I’m having for lunch?!). Skip the olive oil and fleur de sel and it would be equally as delicious as a dessert. But be sure to use a good quality olive oil when you do drizzle it over the top because it definitely adds a new dimension to the overall flavor. I tasted the tart after it cooled for an hour and while it tasted good, I enjoyed it much better the next day after the cheeses had time to meld together. The goat cheese was much more pronounced. This recipe will definitely find its way onto my catering menu. I just know there are other avid goat cheese lovers out there who will find as much pleasure in this as I did…. Enjoy!

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Alison,
GOAT CHEESE LOVERS UNITE!!
I'm right there with ya....love love love the stuff...I think I'd enjoy your recipe collection. :)

The tart looks like a work of art, btw...GREAT job!
SwedishChef

Alison said...

I wish you were here to help me eat this thing!! I had some for lunch today and then it started calling my name again later. I moved it over to the freezer (partly to get it out of my sight and partly to test it for how well it would hold up after being frozen). We could have devoured the thing and put it to rest once and for all!

Anonymous said...

Alright I'll definitely be trying that tart. Now unless your tired of plums I see no need to stop yet. Everything you have made with them has looked great! I love your blog BTW.
Take Care
Cathy
ccivis

Alison said...

Hey Cathy! Thanks for reading. The plum tart was definitely a keeper! I hope you enjoy it. See you on the CK board.