Local produce abounds in our region of Germany [Rheinland Pfalz]. You could easily eat nothing but local foods [and drinks… yay Riesling!!]. I’ve loved baking pies for a long time and, for nearly as long, I’ve loved using local, seasonal fruits in my pies. I guess that’s probably the influence of my mom’s pie baking, since one of her specialties is a blackberry pie made with berries picked on my grandparent’s land. The grocery store we shop at always stocks local, seasonal produce, which is where I normally get my pie ingredients. But, when a German friend offered mirabelles [Mirabellen, auf Deutsch] from the trees in his yard… how could possibly I say no??
So, first of all… what’s a mirabelle? The simple answer is that it’s a plum. More specifically, it’s a very small [only a little bigger than a cherry], yellow plum. The Lorraine region of France is the European capital of mirabelles, and they even have protected origin status there [like champagne or manchego cheese, for example]. But we’re just on the other side of the French-German border from Lorraine, so their popularity definitely extends over here. As indicated in the recipe below, other varieties of plums can also be used if needed.
As for the second component of the tart’s name, my time living in Germany has taught me the joy of baking with marzipan! I most frequently use it in apple pies [I love the marriage of American apple pie and this German sweet!], but I knew it would also be delicious with the mirabelles.
MIRABELLE MARZIPAN TART
114 g shortening [sunflower shortening is my favorite]
1.5 C flour [preferably type 405, aka pastry flour]
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ice water
1 tbsp chilled vodka
170 g mascarpone
140 g marzipan
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp flour
.5 tsp salt
Fruit & Garnish
450 g mirabelles [or other plums], halved & stoned*
.5 C chopped almonds
*If using the most commonly found full-size plums, I would recommend quartering them to make the pieces comparable in size to mirabelles
Preheat the oven to 375° F [190° C].
Weigh the shortening into a mixing bowl. Add flour, sugar, and salt to the shortening and combine the mixture with your hands until it is the texture of crumbly sand. Add the water & vodka and mix it in with your hands. Add more of each in small, equal increments, as needed. The dough should be just sticky enough to hold together without cracking, but not too moist. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
Wash, cut & stone the fruit. Set aside.
Chop the marzipan into pebble-size pieces and toss with flour. Put the mascarpone, marzipan, sugar & salt into a food processor [or blender] and blend until very smooth. Add the eggs and blend until incorporated. Set aside.
Take the bottom out of your removable-bottom tart pan [either square or round will work]. Tear off a piece of parchment paper and trace around the pan base onto it, then cut out & set aside. Return the pan base into the tart pan.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll it out between pieces of wax paper to a thickness of 1/16-1/8″ [2-4 mm]. Remove the top sheet of wax paper and carefully place the dough onto the tart pan. Carefully push the dough down into the pan so it is flush against the bottom & all edges. Press with your finger along the top edge of the pan to break off the excess dough. Place the parchment paper you cut out into the pan, then place the pan onto a cookie sheet. Fill it with pie weights or beans. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Remove the prebaked crust from the oven and scoop out the pie weights/beans [beans can be retained for future use]. Pour the marzipan cream into the crust, leaving about 1/4″ [6 mm] of space at the top of the pan. Sprinkle the chopped almonds on top of the cream, then carefully lay the fruit pieces into the cream in whatever pattern you prefer. The cream should come just to the top of the pan. If not, carefully spoon a little more in.
Bake the tart for about 45 minutes, but start checking it after 25 minutes. If needed, rotate the pan or cover one side with foil to ensure even baking. When done, it will be golden brown and the fruit will be bubbling.
Allow the tart to cool.
Now, invite some friends over, pop open a bottle of dry Riesling to accompany your beautiful tart, and enjoy!