Wednesday, May 7, 2014

italian jam shortbread tart.

This tart.  This tart is for when you unexpectedly and at the very last minute get invited to a soiree where you feel it necessary to bring the host or hostess a little something.  Something pretty and simple and rustic.  This tart is so darn quick and easy to put together it scares me because I now know I can make a jam tart that tastes absurdly delicious in under an hour.  My thighs are not happy about this discovery.  My stomach on the other hand is very, very happy about this discovery.  

I wont say this is my new favorite dessert but knowing that we are entering homemade jam season (rhubarb! peach! strawberry!) and I now have a vehicle for transporting that jam into my mouth (other then bread) makes me very happy.  Especially when that vehicle is a buttery almond flavored shortbread crust.

Italian Jam Shortbread Tart 

Recipe adapted from Food 52 

The only change I made was to generously double the amount of jam.  2 ounces was what the original recipe called for and in my opinion, 2 ounces wouldn't provide enough of a jam/shorbread contrast.  More is better here! 

Serves 8 to 10

12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
1 ½ cup (7 ½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Generous ½  cup (about 5 ounces) not too sweet apricot or cherry jam (or other jam of your choice)
1/3 cup (1 ounce) sliced natural almonds
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Heat the oven to 350 °F. Position an oven rack in the center of oven.

Place the butter, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (a handheld mixer is fine; just allow a little extra time to reach each stage in the recipe). Beat on medium speed until the mixture is very light in color, about 3 to 4 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the almond extract and blend well, another 30 seconds.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and combine on a low speed just until the dough is thoroughly combined, about 30 to 40 seconds. Measure out 1/2 cup of the dough and set it on a small plate, then place the plate in the freezer (this will chill the dough and make it easier to crumble).

Press the remaining dough into a 9 or 9 1/2-inch tart pan in an even layer (the edges can be a little higher than the rest, just be careful that the center is not the thickest point). If the dough is too sticky, just chill it briefly.

Use a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the jam in a thin, even layer over the surface of the dough, leaving a border of about ½ -inch around the edges.

Remove the reserved dough from the freezer and crumble it into small pieces over the layer of the jam, allowing some of the jam to peek through. Sprinkle the sliced almonds evenly over the top of the tart. Sprinkle sea salt.  

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the topping is a beautiful golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool completely. If your tart pan has a removable bottom, to unmold, center the tart pan on top of a large can so that it balances midair as the rim of the tart pan falls to the counter. Leave the bottom of the pan under the tart for support, or run a large spatula between the crust and the pan, using the spatula to guide the tart onto a plate. Alternately, cut wedges straight from the pan. Serve with tart whipped cream.

Store the tart covered in plastic wrap, at room temperature for 3 to 4 days. The tart can be assembled ahead and frozen for up to 1 month. Assemble the tart, and then wrap tightly twice in plastic wrap and freeze on a flat surface -- it may require a few minutes extra of baking time.

1 comment: