Thanksgiving Pies and Apricot Tart

November 26, 2006

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This is a picture of the beautiful Apricot Tart “The Suz” & I made for Thanksgiving.
We have tradition in our family–everyone who is having Thanksgiving dinner with us gets their choice of pie. Yes, everyone. Some years many people share the same pick: apple, pumpkin, etc., but some years the choices are all over the place and we have made 12 or 15 or 18 different kinds of pie! This year was in the “reasonable range” with a mere 8:
From the front: Apple, Pumpkin, Pecan, Mincemeat, Coconut Custard, Sweet Potato, Chocolate (waiting for the Cream!) and the Apricot Tart.

My Papa surprised me this year with his never-before pick of Apricot Pie. He told a story about going to the store as a young child with his mother–back in the days of the neighborhood grocery store. Pigeon’s Grocery in Manchester, New Hampshire– where Mr. Pigeon himself (remember to pronounce the name with the proper French accent, please!) would greet you, ask you what you needed and find each item for you himself, toting up the numbers with a pencil on a paper bag, before loading up the sack with your goods.

He remembered the day Mr. Pigeon, upon completing the order for my Grand-mère, and asking my Papa the obligatory, ‘have-you-been-a-good-boy, doing-well-at-school’ questions, rumpling his (then jet-black) hair, scooping up a handful of dried apricots and dropping them into my father’s hands. My father had never had them before, and thought they were the most delicious thing he had ever tasted. He said he liked them so much; he had eaten every single one during the walk home, before he even thought to ask my Grand-mere if she might like one!

His lifelong love of the dried apricot began right then and there. And to my astonishment, he informed me that he had never had an apricot pie, so that was his pick for this Thanksgiving. Well, that made me want it to be even more delicious for him. I mean, if ever a man deserved a delicious apricot dessert, it is my Papa—particularly after 70 years of waiting!

Having done a lot of web-based dried-apricot-pie recipe research, I decided to go with this Apricot Tart with Cornmeal Crust. I thought the cornmeal crust would be a good change-up to the rest of the pies, and that it would add a grounding element to the sweetness of the dried apricots and apricot preserves in the filling. And was I right! It was simple to put together, delicious, and looked stunning with minimal effort. This crust is one I see myself using over and over again. The Suz helped me make it–and I particularly love that you can see how she hand-placed each individual apricot, right through the crust. Just beautiful! Great job, Suz!

What did Papa think? He ate a large piece as his first dessert pick on Thanksgiving, then went on to have another large piece for his second pick, passing over some of his other favorites. He loved it so much he even ate it for breakfast the next day! That’s just the reaction I was hoping for–I couldn’t have been happier. Happy Thanksgiving, Papa!

Filed Under: Bread/Pastry, Dessert, Recipe, Sweet

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