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Alice Medrich’s Plum and Almond Tart

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Oven and Camera Ready!
Vanilla Ice Cream on the side
is highly recommended

When you have a blog to write, you tend not to repeat recipes once you have made them.  You’re pretty well under the gun to cook something you’ve never tried before simply to create content for your readers.  Most of the time, this isn’t all that difficult to do, especially when you have literally thousands of recipes at your disposal.  But then once in a while you come across something that rings all the bells.  It not only tastes phenomenal, it uses the season’s best ingredients and, if they’re locally grown so much the better.  And then there are those gems that not only meet those criteria but they’re incredibly easy to make.  At that precise moment, you have to assert great discipline in not running out and making the dish on an everyday basis.  With this tart, the invention of one of California’s greatest bakers, all that discipline went out the window.  The tart appeared three times in a week, breaking all previous records for recipe repeating in the shortest amount of time.  But one bite of Alice Medrich’s superb invention, I can almost guarantee you’ll put this on your repeat list too.


Alice Medrich has been at the forefront of California baking for years.  In 1973, Alice started making Chocolate truffles and selling them out of her Berkeley CA home.   What separated Alice’s truffles from their French counterparts was that Alice’s version had a soft center and, when coated with chocolate, they took on a look described as ‘lumpy’.  They became known as California truffles and Alice became known as the First Lady of Chocolate.   Alice soon opened the first Cocolat chocolate store in 1976 and by the time 1990 came along there were seven Cocolat stores in San Francisco.   Then in a plot worthy of a TV series, a fire was deliberately set at its Berkeley headquarters causing damages of $2,000,000.  An employee then embezzled $500,000 from the place.  Alice sold her share but the business never recovered and went under several years later amidst allegations that the new owners had harassed employees who were not Scientologists!   Alice, however soldiered on in her amazing out put of cookbooks—9 by my count including “Pure Dessert” (Artisan Books 2007) which advertises itself as “true flavors, inspired ingredients and simple recipes. 
Alice’s Plum and Almond Tart came from “Pure Dessert”. Now almonds are a favorite ingredient of ours and in this incarnation, they’re the perfect foil for the tartness of the plums that are flooding our farm stands.  Andrew used two different varieties of plums, which not only made the dish a work of art, but added two distinct plum flavors to the tart.  Alice makes note of the fact that you want a plum that makes you pucker slightly when you taste the flesh nearest to the pit.  Now if you are not a plum fan, do not let that stop you from making this very simple tart.  You can substitute peaches or nectarines and make an equally delicious offering this very weekend.  And given that it’s Labor Day, you’ll appreciate just how little effort is involved in this stellar dessert.

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