Plum season makes me nostalgic for France. During my travels to Lichtenberg, plum trees were everywhere, heavy with fruit. Not surprisingly, local cafes and bistros featured plums prominently on their menus. This tart reminds me of that visit and makes me smile.
Ingredients (Serves 8 – 10)
For the crust:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup ground pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cold butter
2 tablespoons brandy
For the filling:
9 small plums, halved and pits removed
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened (or substitute cream cheese)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon brandy
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Step 1) Combine flour, pecans, and sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or two forks, until mixture resembles little peas. Add egg and brandy. Mix – use your hands! – until well combined.
Step 2) Press dough into a tart pan (a pie dish would work fine, too). Place a piece of aluminum foil over the dough and sprinkle with dried beans. This will keep air bubbles from forming and “puffing up” your dough.
Step 3) Bake dough (foil, beans, and all) in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven, remove beans and foil, and let cool for 10 minutes.
Step 4) While crust cools, use an electric mixer to combine softened Neufchâtel cheese, eggs, sugar, brandy, and lemon zest.
Step 5) Spread cheese filling over crust. Gently press plum halves, cut side down, into cheese filling.
Step 6) Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm or cold. I prefer this dish cold.