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.
You can make the entire thing in about an hour, including clean-up, and yet somehow it comes out looking like a Byzantine mosaic.
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).
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.
Pat the rest of the dough into a tart pan in a flat-ish layer.
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.
Crumble on your now-frozen dough reserves, plus nuts.
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.
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
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]
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I'm an ex-economist, ex-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."