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THE CONFIDENT COOK

Recipe: This beautiful clementine tart will brighten any dreary day

Clementine TartSally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe

Makes one 10-inch tart

Fickle weather has us on a roller coaster. One day, spring is around the corner. The next, there's snow, and we're catapulted back to winter (and reality). A bright orange tart made with juicy clementines (or mandarins or tangerines) can sweeten the wait for spring, and give our taste buds something to celebrate. The juicy, sweet fruit and the slightly bitter rind bake into an impossibly simple, yet fancy looking, treat. It all begins with store-bought frozen puff pastry, a magical ingredient. Working with frozen puff pastry requires a little attention because all brands are different. First, choose all-butter pastry. With two basic ingredients, each one must shine, and you can't replicate irresistible butter flavor without the butter. Most packages weigh 14 to 18 ounces, and consist of two pieces of pastry, so you might have to patch them together to make one piece. That's OK; it's not hard. Set the two pieces on the work surface and overlap them by about 1/2 inch. Press the edge of the top piece into the edge of the bottom sheet with your fingers and then roll gently with a rolling pin just enough to even the dough's thickness all over. You will have leftover dough, which you can re-roll, sprinkle with sugar, cut into pieces, and bake into little treats. Or do the same with grated Parmesan for little cocktail nibbles. Put the kettle on and serve yourself a slice of this tart on a dreary afternoon (big scoop of ice cream optional).

1sheet (14 ounces) all-butter puff pastry, defrosted in the refrigerator
pounds (6 to 8) clementines (or mandarins or tangerines), seedless if possible
2tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3tablespoons sugar

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a large rimmed baking sheet and a large sheet of parchment paper.

2. On the parchment paper, unroll the puff pastry. Set a 10-inch lid or dinner plate on top to use as a guide. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the pastry into a 10-inch circle. With your fingers, work around the edge of the dough little by little, turning about 1/4 inch of the dough in towards the center all around to make a rim. Press the edge of the circle gently with the tines of a fork. Prick the round all over with the fork. Slide the parchment onto the baking sheet and refrigerate while you prepare the oranges.

3. On a cutting board with a thin sharp knife, cut the clementines or other citrus fruits in half from pole to pole. Set a half cut side down. Slice across it to make thin, half-moon slices. Repeat with the remaining halves. Discard any seeds.

4. Starting at the outside edge of the pastry, arrange the slices close together in overlapping layers, rind facing out, until the tart is covered with the slices. The fruit may shrink a little during baking, so don't be afraid to crowd the pastry with the slices.

5. Drizzle the slices with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

6. Bake the tart for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the edges of the pastry are golden brown. Set on a wire rack to cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if you like.

Sally Pasley Vargas

Makes one 10-inch tart

Fickle weather has us on a roller coaster. One day, spring is around the corner. The next, there's snow, and we're catapulted back to winter (and reality). A bright orange tart made with juicy clementines (or mandarins or tangerines) can sweeten the wait for spring, and give our taste buds something to celebrate. The juicy, sweet fruit and the slightly bitter rind bake into an impossibly simple, yet fancy looking, treat. It all begins with store-bought frozen puff pastry, a magical ingredient. Working with frozen puff pastry requires a little attention because all brands are different. First, choose all-butter pastry. With two basic ingredients, each one must shine, and you can't replicate irresistible butter flavor without the butter. Most packages weigh 14 to 18 ounces, and consist of two pieces of pastry, so you might have to patch them together to make one piece. That's OK; it's not hard. Set the two pieces on the work surface and overlap them by about 1/2 inch. Press the edge of the top piece into the edge of the bottom sheet with your fingers and then roll gently with a rolling pin just enough to even the dough's thickness all over. You will have leftover dough, which you can re-roll, sprinkle with sugar, cut into pieces, and bake into little treats. Or do the same with grated Parmesan for little cocktail nibbles. Put the kettle on and serve yourself a slice of this tart on a dreary afternoon (big scoop of ice cream optional).

1sheet (14 ounces) all-butter puff pastry, defrosted in the refrigerator
pounds (6 to 8) clementines (or mandarins or tangerines), seedless if possible
2tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3tablespoons sugar

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a large rimmed baking sheet and a large sheet of parchment paper.

2. On the parchment paper, unroll the puff pastry. Set a 10-inch lid or dinner plate on top to use as a guide. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the pastry into a 10-inch circle. With your fingers, work around the edge of the dough little by little, turning about 1/4 inch of the dough in towards the center all around to make a rim. Press the edge of the circle gently with the tines of a fork. Prick the round all over with the fork. Slide the parchment onto the baking sheet and refrigerate while you prepare the oranges.

3. On a cutting board with a thin sharp knife, cut the clementines or other citrus fruits in half from pole to pole. Set a half cut side down. Slice across it to make thin, half-moon slices. Repeat with the remaining halves. Discard any seeds.

4. Starting at the outside edge of the pastry, arrange the slices close together in overlapping layers, rind facing out, until the tart is covered with the slices. The fruit may shrink a little during baking, so don't be afraid to crowd the pastry with the slices.

5. Drizzle the slices with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

6. Bake the tart for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the edges of the pastry are golden brown. Set on a wire rack to cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if you like.Sally Pasley Vargas