Blackberry-Pistachio Macaroon Tart

September 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Blackberries on the side of the road are a glorious thing. A prickly, sometimes painful, mess, but beautiful nonetheless. Nearing the end of summer, the bushes have been combed over time and time again and usually boast only a couple of edible berries, but I get excited seeing them nonetheless. Blackberries in Italian farmland, blackberries along Route 1 in Mendocino, blackberries in green paper crates at the market, blackberries in my grandparents’ backyard that never quite made it into the night’s crisp, blackberries on the hill where I run above my house. I could eat them until my fingers are stained purple forever.

Luckily this one batch of blackberries turned out to be pretty sour. Plump, deep purple almost black, so juicy that they ruptured in between my forefingers, and pucker worthy. I let them sit on the counter for a couple of days (you know that saying that a little distance makes the heart grow fonder), but in the end, they only started growing a bit of mold and looking pretty sad. So I picked through them and tossed the rest in the freezer, vowing to return to them after Labor Day weekend.

Baked, they meld into tart, jammy pockets beneath chewy flakes of coconut. They soak into a thick shortbread crust, gently teasing out the natural sweetness of the browned-butter. The bars are finished with a colorful flourish of pistachios. And suddenly those blackberries, so wholly disappointing, are once again transformed into showstoppers, just in time for the end of summer.

Blackberry-Pistachio Macaroon Tart
Closely Adapted from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson
I remember the day I met Heidi. I was sitting at a long table at a book event for Good to the Grain and thought she looked familiar, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it until she introduced herself. It was at the beginning of last summer, right before I started my year off from school, and when I told her my plans and tentative plans, she said “Good for you.” It was also the day I first realized that non-wheat flours didn’t have to just be weird grains that my dad snuck into pancakes when I wasn’t looking. 

For the crust:
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup light brown sugar or natural cane sugar
½ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter

For the filling:
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
½ cup light brown sugar or natural cane sugar
4 large egg whites
8 ounces fresh blackberries, halved
1/3 pistachios, crushed (raw or roasted, unsalted)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter your tart pan of choice. The original recipe uses an 8 by 11 inch tart pan but I did just fine with my long, rectangular pan.

Make the crust: Brown the butter on the stovetop. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, coconut, sugar and salt. Stir in the browned butter until the mixture is crumbly but not dry. Press the mixture firmly into the prepared tart pan and bake for 15 minutes, until just golden brown. Let the crust cool while you prepare the macaroon filling.

In a mixing bowl, combine the coconut, egg whites and sugar. Distribute the blackberries evenly over the baked crust. Spread the macaroon filling on top of them (the end effect is prettier if you let some of the blackberries peek through). Press down the coconut filling.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the peaks of the macaroon are deep, golden brown. After the tart has cooled, sprinkle pistachios over the top.

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