Prune and Armagnac Tart

Ingredients

  • 500 g (1 lb) mi-cuit prunes (semi-dried prunes from France sold under the Merchant Gourmet label)
  • 150 mls (¼ pint) Armagnac
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 4 free-range egg yolks and one whole egg
  • 125 g (5 oz) caster sugar
  • 40 g ( oz) plain flour, sifted
  • 500 mls (18 oz) single cream or full-cream milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 250 g (½ lb) sweet shortcrust pastry

Method

Stone the prunes and soak them in the Armagnac with the cinnamon while you make the custard, or pastry cream, and bake the tart shell. Put the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until well blended. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Scald the cream and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and pour it in a thin stream onto the eggs, whisking all the time. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook it on a very gentle heat until it thickens, stirring all the time. Do not cook on high heat, as the egg will set as if scrambled. Strain the custard into a bowl, cover with cling film, and when cool, refrigerate until required.

Roll out the pastry and line a 25 cm (10 inch) loose bottomed tin. Prick all over with a fork, cover with greaseproof paper and weight down with baking beans. Bake for 15 minutes in the centre of a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Remove from the oven and carefully take out the baking beans and greaseproof. Return the pastry to the oven for a further 10 minutes to complete cooking. Cool the tart shell on a wire rack.

When ready to assemble the tart, strain the liquid from the prunes and boil it to a glaze. Spoon the pastry cream into the tart shell and arrange the prunes on top. Brush all over with the glaze and allow to cool. Serve within 2 to 3 hours. If you prefer not to use alcohol, soak the prunes in grape juice or Earl Grey tea.

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