Chosen Bites: Italian Plum Tart - elegant and easy

Non-baker types can enjoy this recipe as it doesn't involve rolling pins, circle stencils or patch work crusts.

Plums 370 (photo credit: Laura Frankel)
Plums 370
(photo credit: Laura Frankel)
There is usually something that keeps non-baker types from actually making desserts. The die-hard baker types will make dessert no matter what, but non-baker types have their “lines in the sand.” Rolling out or making a pie crust is often a top contender for non-baker types as the leading reason to purchase dessert from the store.
This tart is different. The crust is assembled in the food processor or mixer and pushed into the tart shell by hand. No rolling pins or circle stencils and no patch work crusts. This recipe is easy, delicious and looks like a pro made it. This one is a keeper for the holidays, a late summer supper or date night when you want to look like a domestic rock star.
This is plum season and gorgeous plums of different colors and shapes have started appearing in markets. For this tart, Use a small Italian prune plum. These tiny, oval shaped, indigo beauties are delicately sweet and cook faster than their larger counterparts. If you cannot find the Italian plums, be sure to quarter the larger plums so they cook at the same rate as the crust.
Italian Plum TartServes 8
For the crust:4 ounces butter or non-hydrogenated shortening¼ cup sugarPinch of salt1 cup all-purpose flour¾ teaspoon lemon juice1 teaspoon lemon zest½ teaspoon vanilla extractSpecial equipment-9-inch false bottom tart pan
1.Mix the shortening, sugar and salt until creamy.2.Add the lemon juice and vanilla and mix until blended.3.Add the flour and mix until just blended. Do not over mix.4.Push the dough into a 9-inch pan. Be sure to spread the dough evenly.5.Chill the shell until ready to use.
For the filling:25-30 Italian Prune Plums or Stanley Plums, halved and pitted½ cup cornstarch½ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 3751.Toss the plums with the cornstarch and sugar. 2.Starting at the outer rim, place the plums in the same direction, slightly leaning on the one behind. They should look like they are standing up.3.Repeat positioning the plums on the next circle, only face the plums in the opposite direction. Fill in the center with one or two plum halves.4.Bake for 40-50 minutes until the crust is medium brown and the plums are softened. Cool.Remove the tart pan rim and dust with powdered sugar.