We walked the grassy rows between the trees, admiring the fruit that hung heavily on the branches. Pears and apples were beginning to take shape, but these were not why we were here. We had made the trek to Valais to discover more about what locals call the “Prince of Valais."
This was the fruit that was first discovered on a hillside in Sion in 1812, the fruit that thrives in the microclimate of the sun-drenched valley, the fruit that is a rich source of potassium, magnesium, and iron – we were here to learn about the apricot.
We stood amongst the trees in the orchard, the sunlight drenching the valley, and the patriarch and farmer of the land told us about the early hours one April morning when the frost killed 85% of their crop. His hands reached out to touch a perfectly ripened apricot, it’s beautiful red-orange hue held a shine reflecting its vevelt skin — this was his livelihood, and in that moment we felt so honored to be sharing a mutual delight of this fruit that reigned “prince.”
Because the 2021 harvest was so deeply affected by the spring frosts, the farmer explained that it may become difficult to find Valaisan apricots in your grocery stores. But he stressed the importance of when you do, please support the local industry by purchasing the local Swiss produce.
Once you’ve stocked up on apricots from Valais, we’ve got a simple and absolutely delicious recipe you can make at home from scratch. We aren’t huge dessert people (we know, it’s weird), but what we love about the Tarte aux Abricots du Valais is that it’s a perfect balance between tart and sweet.
Ingredients for the crust (pâte brisée):
250g of flour
1 spoon of refined sugar
2 pinches of salt
150g of butter
6cl of milk
Optional: a handful of dried breadcrumbs
How to make the crust:
Mix the flour, salt and sugar
Add the butter in small pieces and work with your fingers to obtain a sandy mixture
Add the egg and the milk, mix well without working the dough too much (you don’t want it to be elastic)
Form a ball, slightly flattened
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
Optional: Eat a few apricots while you wait
For the cream mixture:
80g of sugar
20gr of vanilla powder
250g 35% cream
Mix together all ingredients
Once you’ve formed the dough in your pie tin, poke the base with a fork to allow air to travel through the dough. We also heard a tip to add some stale breadcrumbs (old croissants, brioche, or regular bread) to the base of the crust to absorb the juices of the fruit and not make the base of the crust too soggy.
Cut the apricots in half, taking out the pits, and arrange in a circular spiral shape until it’s filled.
Bake the tart with just the fruit at 200 degrees celcius for about 9 minutes.
Take out the tart and pour the cream mixture in until it fills the height of the pie tin and return to the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 14 minutes.
Let cool and enjoy!