Jam shortbread tart a slice of Italy
Editor’s Note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful. The Italians know a thing or two about cooking; the food in their country is some of the best in the world. So, when I came across this recipe for a shortbread tart with Mediterranean origins, I thought I ought to try it. I did, and I’ve made it numerous times since. It’s a delight – fast and easy to make; pretty and fun to serve. It goes beautifully with coffee, and I’m told it is great paired with after-dinner wines in Italy. The recipe is very versatile. Feel free to change the preserves, the nuts and the flavor of extract. If you want a fancier presentation, make it in individual tart pans and serve it with a little sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. You can also half the recipe and make it in a 7-inch tart pan.It stores well at cool room temperature, just cover it with aluminum foil or put it in an airtight plastic container. Jam shortbread tartMake in a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, or a 9-inch springform pan
Ingredients1/2 cup of sugar3/4 cup of unsalted butter (one and a half sticks) Cold if you are using a food processor to make the dough; at room temperature if you are making it with an electric mixer1 cup of all-purpose flour plus 1/2 cup of pastry flour, or 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour1/8 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon of almond extract1/4 cup cherry preserves – I used Bonne Mamen, available in most grocery stores1/3 cup of sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Wrap the tart or springform pan with aluminum foil, bringing it tightly across the base of the pan and up the sides. The foil will catch any butter that melts as the tart cooks and leaks out of the pan bottom. Don’t grease the pan.To make the dough in a food processor: Put the flour(s), sugar and salt in the processor and pulse with the steel blade to mix. Cut the cold butter into about 9 pieces, add, and process until large clumps of dough start to form. Add the almond extract through the feed tube, while the processor is running. Stop processing before the dough forms a ball- it should be thoroughly moistened and starting to come together, but not totally smooth.To make the dough with an electric mixer: Beat the room temperature butter and the sugar until it is very light, scraping down the bowl several times. Add the almond extract and beat until thoroughly combined. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour(s) and the salt, then add them to the butter mixture, beating on low speed until they are just combined. Remove a half cup of the dough, spread it thin on a plate and freeze it. This will be used as a topping.Pour the rest of the dough into the tart or springform pan and press it evenly across the bottom. I do this by placing a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and smoothing the dough through it. The dough can be slightly higher around the rim of the pan, but needs to be even in the middle.Spread the jam over the dough, to about an inch from the sides of the pan. If the jam is cold, warm it slightly in the microwave to make it easier to spread.Take the frozen dough and crumble it over the entire top of the tart. Some of the jam will show through. Strew the sliced almonds over the top as well.Place the tart on a baking pan covered with aluminum foil; this, too, will catch any melting butter that may drip through the bottom of the pan. Place them both in the oven and bake about 40-50 minutes, until the top is firm and golden brown all over.
Remove the tart from the oven and cool it completely on a rack.While good to eat as soon as it cools, the tart is at its best the day after it has been baked. To serve it, remove the outer rim of the tart or springform pan. Using a serrated knife, cut the tart into thin wedges or put it on a serving plate in the middle of the table and invite diners to break off pieces. This recipe is a variation of one in The Best American Recipes, 2001-2002Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. If your business or organization would like to sample and review a baked good for inclusion in the Life Is Sweet column, contact Vera Dawson at email@example.comVail, Colorado
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