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While many people are familiar with the City of Toronto, I often feel that not enough people know that Toronto is located within the province of Ontario (Canada is divided into ten provinces and three territories).

For those of us who live in Ontario, we’re blessed to be in a location where both urban and rural settings are easily accessible. That means we can enjoy the best of both worlds. I love living in a multicultural, modern city. But it’s also very nice to get in the car and know that in a relatively short time, you can be driving by picturesque farms or visiting any one of the province’s beautiful parks. I’ve always felt especially lucky that here in Ontario, we grow a variety of fruits and vegetables that should not be missed.

For this month’s edition of Sugar High Friday, the event started by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess, Johanna of The Passionate Cook has chosen the theme of Sweet Specialties. She’s given us the opportunity to prepare a dessert that features what’s truly special in our neck of the woods.

I’m not sure how many people would consider a peach a delicacy. I can say in all honesty, however, that a juicy summer peach is unsurpassed as far as I’m concerned. When I visited the farmer’s market last Wednesday, I couldn’t help but buy a basket of fragrant Redhaven peaches grown in my very own province.

I thought about a simple preparation for the peaches, like grilling them to caramelize the tops and then topping them with a scoop of perfect vanilla ice cream. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to compliment the peaches with some sort of buttery crust. I perused my cookbooks but didn’t really find anything that struck my fancy. I visted Epicurious and came across a recipe for a peach tart that featured an almond spread as a base for the peaches.

I began the dessert by making the dough which came together very quickly in the food processor. While the dough chilled, I prepared the almond base, which consisted of blanched almonds, butter and almond extract.

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My beautiful Redhaven peaches were a joy to slice. I loved the hint of colour on each thin slice of peach as they waited to be layered on the tart. After slicing the peaches, I quickly rolled out the dough and used a 4-inch fluted cookie cutter to cut out rounds. I pricked the rounds with a fork before putting them in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

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I spread about a tablespoonful of almond cream on each round and then topped each with several slices of peach. The tarts baked up beautifully.

Once cooled, I took an extra step not included in the recipe. I melted some apricot jam with a bit of water and then strained it. I used a pastry brush to spread some of the apricot glaze over the cooled tarts. I then sprinkled some sliced, blanched almonds over the glaze. Just before serving, I lightly dusted the tarts with icing sugar.

These tarts were delicious! The dough was buttery, flaky and perfectly cooked while the peaches were a lovely combination of tart and sweet. The apricot glaze gave them a pretty sheen.

I would like to thank Johanna for coming up with this wonderful them for SHF #34. It was a joy to use one of Ontario’s greatest delicacies: the beautiful summer peach!

Ciao!

Peach Almond Tarts

Note: I used this recipe for peach tarts from Epicurious. However, I have reproduced the recipe according to how I made it. I added an extra step. I doubled the recipe and made 32 4-inch tarts. The recipe below is for one batch of tarts.

For the crust:

1 stick plus 2 tbsp. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into tiny pieces
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
a small bowl of ice water

Place the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine.

Add the butter pieces and pulse 15 to 20 times, until the butter has been incorporated into the flour and the mixture is very coarse.

With the machine running, begin pouring water through the feed tube, a tablespoon at a time. You will need 5 to 6 tablespoons to make the dough come together. The dough will gather in a ball around the blade of the processor.

Stop the machine and turn the dough out onto a well-floured counter top. Knead gently for a few seconds, gathering the dough into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

For the almond base:

3/4 cup sliced and blanched almonds
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of the food processor and process until smooth. Set filling aside until ready to use.

For the peach topping:

4 to 5 large ripe peaches, pitted and sliced thinly
1/2 stick unsalted butter
sugar for sprinkling

When you are ready to bake the tarts, remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to a thickness of about 1/8th of an inch. If you’re countertop isn’t large enough, divide the dough in half and roll it out in two batches.

Using a round cookie cutter or a dish, cut circles out of the dough. I used a 4-inch round cookie cutter.

Place the rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Once you’ve filled the sheet, prick the rounds with a fork and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the rounds are chilling, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Once the rounds have chilled, assemble the tarts by spreading about a tablespoon of almond base on each round. Leave a slight edge around the corners of the round so that the almond base doesn’t leak over.

Layer your peach slices over the almond base in whatever design you wish.

Bake the tarts in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes (begin checking after 25 minutes to ensure your tarts don’t burn). You can bake the tarts one sheet at a time or you can bake them two sheets at a time with one sheet in the top part of the oven and one in the bottom, but be sure to rotate the sheets halfway through baking.

Once baked, let the tarts cool on a wire rack before glazing.

For the glaze:

1/2 cup apricot jam
a few tablespoons of water
sliced and blanched almonds (optional)
icing sugar (optional)

Melt the apricot jam with the water in a small saucepan.

Once melted, pass the jam through a strainer.

Brush the cooled tarts with the resulting glaze. If you wish, sprinkle on some almonds and dust with icing sugar.

Enjoy!

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