Sunday, April 8, 2012

Dedication - Almond Tarts

My best friend turned 21 yesterday.  Happy Birthday in Oregon! 

Earlier this semester, she kindly gave me a set of 12 tiny silicone baking cups.  Colorful and adorable, I had to wait until I had some free time to play with them and finally give them the attention they deserved.  These almond tarts are for her, requiring her patience and thoughtfulness to put together and bake.  They also borrow a little of her creativity, made entirely from scraps of leftover dough.  Once I post the second yogurt recipe that I promised, I'll put up the reason for this delightful leftover dough.

I'd like to add another note: she is a stellar baker.  I think she'd like these.

Crust adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 1 9" round crust, plus scraps (this recipe only uses the scraps...)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold butter
½ large egg, beaten well (save the other half for the glaze)
1 tablespoon milk

1 medium mixing bowl
1 rubber spatula
1 whisk (optional, but handy)
1 sturdy butter knife (for cutting the butter)
½ teaspoon measure
1 tablespoon measure
1 cup dry measure


1. In the mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Cut the butter into about 16 slices and toss them into the bowl, coating with the flour mixture as you go.  With your hands, quickly break the pieces of cold butter apart, until you wind up with some pieces and some crumbs.  Add half of the beaten egg and the milk, then gently fold to make a cohesive dough.  It will come together rather reluctantly, but rest assured that the less you mess with it, the more tender and flaky the crust will come out.  If the butter in the dough softens at any point, toss it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so.  Once the dough just barely comes together, refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

Filling straight from the flames of It's on Fire!!!
Makes about ½ cup truly addicting confection

3 tablespoons almond butter (my favorite is raw, crunchy, unsalted from Trader Joe's)
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon measure
1 small bowl or 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whatever's handy
1 sturdy spoon
1 rubber spatula (probably the one you used for making the crust...)


1. Thoroughly combine both ingredients.  Taste for flavor and texture, adjusting the balance and adding the tiniest pinch of salt if need be, and try not to inhale it before the tart crust is ready.  Refrigerate until the tart crust is ready.

It looks like this, after assembly and before the glaze.
12 mini silicone baking cups (or something similar, but butter and flour if you do)
1 rolling pin
1 good counter or other surface for tart crust dough
3" round cookie cutter
1 small, sharp knife for trimming tart crust dough
1 pastry brush or small spoon (for egg glaze)

1. Remove the tart crust from the fridge and gently roll it out to about 1/8" thick.  Carefully cut 3" diameter circles from the dough and lay them in the silicone cups, gently patting them down to fit.  Trim the tops flush with the cups if you need to. 

2. Fill each tart with about 1 teaspoon of almond filling.  I have found that the best way to do this is approximately roll it into a ball, then pat it into the crust.  When you are done, refrigerate all the tarts for at least an hour.  

3. Brush or spoon a little of the beaten egg on top of each tart and preheat the oven to 350°F.  While the oven preheats, put the tarts back in the refrigerator.

4. Once the oven is ready, bake the tarts at 350°F for about 15 minutes.  Remove when they are nicely browned on top and you detect a heady almond fragrance.  Allow to cool for a few minutes, then enjoy!

Also lovely topped with a little raspberry jelly.

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