For some reason, I’m extra-impatient for stone fruit season this year. Maybe it’s all the news of the drought; maybe I’ve just burned myself out snacking on apples all winter. But somehow, I’ve convinced myself that the peaches and plums and nectarines will be extra-delicious and extra-hard to get my fill of this year. So I’m missing them terribly.
But try as I might, I can’t make peaches appear at the markets out of sheer willpower. So when, a couple weeks ago, my friends and I started craving a warm fruit tart, we had to improvise a little. Fortunately, we were able to get our hands on some truly phenomenal dried peaches and nectarines. I could have tried simmering them in water to soften them up for baking, but then I had another idea. What if I cut up the fruit and soaked it in Amaretto for a while? Would that make them suitable for piling into a tart?
The answer, I’m happy to say, is a (qualified) yes. The peaches soaked up the sugary liqueur, taking on an intense sweet almond perfume. Just eating pieces out of the bowl was enough to make our eyes roll back in our heads. The fruit didn’t soften quite as much as I’d hoped, making the tart a little difficult to slice, and the exposed edges singed a bit in the heat of the oven. But really, given how improvised this was, those are small and mean quibbles. The combination of squishy, boozy fruit and crumbly pastry was incredibly satisfying, and Sam said he thought the burned bits on the fruit were the best part, since they cut the sweetness with a bit of caramel-bitterness.
Is this ever going to replace a juicy, in-season peach tart? No, but it’s incredibly delicious in its own right. It’s a decidedly grown-up dessert, elegant and boozy without being too fussy. And as something easy and slapdash–the kind of thing you can rustle up from the pantry in a couple of hours and serve to a crowd–it’s mighty fine. I don’t even think you need whipped cream or ice cream here. Let the fruit and the liqueur do the talking.