Val, my friend who’d invited us over for dinner that night, sent me a note: “Call me.”
I washed my hands and called. “What’s up?” I whispered, not wanting to wake my girls.
“Two non-nappers,” she said, sounding distraught. She didn’t need to say anything else. I knew exactly how she felt.
As we chatted, I thought about the times when one–or worse–both of my own sleepy-crabby-wild children didn’t want to nap. On several occasions, I had said, “Only girls who fall asleep get to go have fun tonight.” And I remembered the difficult times I’d had to follow through with my threat and cancel plans.
“Do you want to reschedule dinner?” I asked.
“Would that totally screw you up?”
I looked at the partially finished tart and worried that I might eat more than I needed.
“Not at all,” I said.
I got back to arranging apricots, glazed the fruit with warmed apricot preserves, and put the tart in the oven.
Then I scouted the fridge for leftovers. I found plenty of pasta from the previous night to feed all of us and then some, so I called another friend: “We need help with an apricot tart,” I explained. We decided to meet at the park for dinner.
My daughters woke up chattering about what they would do with their friends that evening.
“Guess what? Cole and Kate didn’t take naps today.”
Their eyes grew wide. “Does that mean they can’t have us come over?” Eliza asked.
“Yep,” I said.
They looked darn sad.
“Come look what we have for dessert,” I diverted.
They ooh-ed and aah-ed, and I asked if they wanted to meet some other pals at the park. They looked happier, and off we went to enjoy fresh clams simmered in white wine and garlic, homemade chicken soup, leftover broccolini and sausage pasta, and beet and fennel salad. Together, my friend and I pulled off an impressive last-minute feast.
Before we cut the tart, I called Val to see if she wanted to sneak out and join us for dessert, but her tired kids needed her. She didn’t say it, but I figured she probably felt exhausted herself.
At about quarter-past bedtime, we packed up our things to head home. By the time we finished, the kids, still cheerful, hadn’t stopped running laps.
“I’ll be right back,” I told my husband. I drove to Val’s house. Everything looked quiet, and I didn’t want to interfere with bedtime, so I sent a text — “Check your porch for the last slice of tart” — before returning to the park for my family.
As we loaded into the car, a funny thing happened. “I bet Coley-Moley and Kate will nap tomorrow, Mommy,” Tessa said.
And you know what? She was right.
Apricot Almond Tart
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking (1997 edition).
Makes one 10-inch tart.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 large egg yolks
Grease the bottom of a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Dust with flour and set aside.
Whisk together flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and whirl until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add one of the egg yolks and process until the dough comes together.
Roll dough between two sheets of parchment paper (if the dough is too sticky, refrigerate it for 15 to 30 minutes). To prevent it from slipping as you roll, place a silicone mat beneath the bottom sheet of parchment. Remove one sheet of parchment and flip the dough into prepared tart pan, folding and gently pinching overhanging edges down the inside of the pan. Prick the bottom generously with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown, about 18-22 minutes.
Whisk remaining egg yolk with a pinch of salt. Brush the inside of the tart shell and bake until the egg glaze sets, about 1 minute. Cool crust before adding filling.
1 cup slivered blanched almonds
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
6 to 8 apricots
2 to 3 tablespoons apricot jam, warmed
Toast the nuts in an oven heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 7 minutes. Cool and then chop to desired consistency.
In the bowl of standing electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, and then stir in nuts. Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared crust.
Gently pit and slice apricots to 1/4-inch thickness. Arrange the fruit in a circular pattern over the nut mixture, overlapping slices slightly. Brush with jam.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the nut mixture has set, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a rack until ready to serve.