Genius Recipes

Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta)

By • December 4, 2013 • 23 Comments

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Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: A last-minute pantry tart that looks much fancier than it is -- a silver bullet year-round, and just what you need for the holidays.

Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52

During the holidays, more than ever, we need more things that give the illusion of fanciness, without effort or strife. 

Like tastefully wrapped gifts and centerpieces that look as if they were dropped there by forest elves, this jam tart -- whose components are sitting in your pantry right now -- is one of those things.

Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52

It comes from Chez Panisse alum Cindy Mushet's Desserts: Mediterranean Flavors, California Style. In Veneto, it's called fregolotta but, as Mushet says, it's "really more like a big cookie." 

She's not kidding. The dough is one simple shortbread that you use for both the crust and the topping (which will make you wonder why you'd ever make them separately). In between is a shiny layer of jam, and on top, a flutter of sliced almonds. 

More: You'll like this tart too. It's like cheesecake, but with labneh.

You can make the entire thing in about an hour, including clean-up, and yet somehow it comes out looking like a Byzantine mosaic.

Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52

Lori Galvin, the Cookbook Editor at America's Test Kitchen, who introduced me to this recipe, likes it in small wedges with tart whipped cream, so it feels even fancier. "Whenever I serve it to someone new, they ask for the recipe," she told me. "Never fails."

Here's how to make it, start to finish:

Cream your butter and sugar, then add almond extract, then flour (this looks like plenty of cookies and cakes you know, so far).

Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52  Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta)

Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52  Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52

Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52  Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52

Flatten 1/2 cup of the dough onto a plate and put in the freezer while you do everything else. This will be your crumble.

Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52.

Pat the rest of the dough into a tart pan in a flat-ish layer. 

Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52.  Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52.

Spread jam around the top, leaving a pretty border area. It won't look like enough to go around, but it will be just right to seep into the cookie, and glue all its bedazzling on top.

Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52.

Crumble on your now-frozen dough reserves, plus nuts.

Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta) on Food52.

Bake till it's golden and buttery and crumbly and the goo of the jam has melted into sticky painted glass. Cool a little, eat. Or make it ahead and tuck it away, if that's more your style. Baked, it keeps well for 3 to 4 days. Unbaked and frozen, you've got a whole month.

Even though it's perfect for holidays, you should entrench this in your repertory year-round. As long as you have butter, sugar, and flour, you can use whatever jams and nuts are in your pantry. Try pine nuts, walnuts, pecans; cherry in summer, marmalade in winter, rhubarb in spring, or mix them up at will -- it's just jam and sundries, unbound by season or time.

Holidays, you can't bring us down now -- not with this tart on our side.

Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta)

Cindy Mushet's Italian Jam Shortbread Tart (Fregolotta)

Adapted slightly from Desserts: Mediterranean Flavors, California Style (Scribner, 2000)

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup not too sweet apricot jam (or other jam of your choice)
1/3 cup sliced natural almonds

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected] 

Jump to Comments (23)

Tags: holiday, baking, shortbread, tart, Cindy Mushet, dessert, how-to & diy, pantry, last minute, entertaining, dinner party

Comments (23)

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about 1 month ago Beauty Follower

looks delicious!

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about 1 month ago Mariana Angela Mill

I believe I need to make more dough for the bottom; after dividing it up I did not have enough to go up the rim; I spread my with the back of a tablespoon & was smooth as silk spread; using my fingers was making it soft; I probably will make a double portion for a larger tart pan next time. Very appealing taste wise & visually.

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8 months ago Beef Wellington

Followed the recipe closely until I didn't. Used maple sugar (ebay) salted Pistachios (Costco) dry cherries. Wonderfully easy recipe that allows me to have it in the oven in about 35 minutes. Thank you Food 52.

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5 months ago Adrianne Guillory

maple sugar in place of sugar or in place of the jam?

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9 months ago [email protected]

I made this. It was fab. This is exactly what I love about Italian cooking: it's made from nothing. I had everything in the house including some jam that no one would touch because it was the bottom of the jar (you all know how that goes). Perfection.

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9 months ago Susie Mosteller

Made the shortbread for a Sip and See and it was wonderful! I soaked my almonds in Amaretto first thing before mixing the crust and the flavor was amazing. Big hit!

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9 months ago Herschelian

Made this two nights ago for daughter and son-i-l; they loved it. I used a red mixed berry jam, and was slightly more generous with the amount; simply delicious with a blob of whipped cream. Two-year old grandson also thought it was rather good!!!
Am now going to try it using Christmas mincemeat instead of the jam, think it will work well.

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9 months ago Susie Mosteller

I made this for a Sip 'n See for our newest family addition and first soaked my almond slivers in amaretto while I prepared the shortbread. The almonds tasted amazing! This was one of the hits of the party.

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9 months ago Erni

This looks yummy! Seems easy enough. I have a family who loves shortbread. This is perfect!

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9 months ago Nancy Dulaney

Gorgeous, thanks! Am wondering if it could be made gluten free with almond meal rather than flour. Would probably be good to mix with some rice, millet, or quinoa flour for adhesion aspect while maintainig a light touch. Nancy D

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10 months ago lizvigoda

I've made a version of this from the Barefoot Contessa and it came out great. But then I also made my own version which consists of slicing two medium apples and tossing them with 1/3 cup sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon and using that in place of the jam and it's FABULOUS!

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10 months ago MarthaP

This sounds so delicious but what is "tart" whipped cream?

Miglore

10 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Good question! This would just be unsweetened whipped cream with something tart like creme fraiche or yogurt added to it. This is a great example: http://food52.com/recipes...

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10 months ago durun99

Thanks for the recipe. We just made and polished off most of one of these tarts. So easy and delicious.

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10 months ago April

This tart tastes wonderful! It is so easy to make! Made it with raspberry jam. I have a very happy tummy right now. :). Thank you for the recipe.

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10 months ago cindy

I've made a similar recipe on an 11x15" pan and cut into large triangles. It is my go to Xmas baking.

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10 months ago suzgab

how large of a tart pan? forgive me if it's already listed.

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10 months ago suzgab

ok-I went to full recipe and found my answer-9 to 9.5"

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10 months ago Debbi smirnoff

You guys at food 52 are genius! Wonderful delicious recipes shown in props we can buy! I dislike places that show great props that only the food stylist has! Thank you!

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10 months ago adrianat

Good god where can I buy that tart pan?!

Miglore

10 months ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Right here! http://food52.com/provisions... (It's pretty wonderful, isn't it?)