Work on the new house is progressing slowly but surely, the archway we wanted to take down in the kitchen is now officially gone and I've managed to get most of the plants in the ground that were biding their time on my patio. The pumpkin plant officially has a little pumpkin on it and my lingonberry plant has little lingonberries, (although I'm not entirely sure what I am going to do with them yet. Jam? Tart? Ice cream??? Yes. The answer will always be ice cream.) Speaking of frozen desserts, today I have another wonderful guest post to share with you, this time coming from the warm, lovely, and exceedingly talented Cynthia of Two Red Bowls. Her recent favorites of mine include this red bean ice cream (how amazing are those photos???) and these gorgeous potstickers. Welcome, Cynthia!!!
As a long-term reader and avid fan of Eva's beautiful work, I'm still pinching myself right now that I'm writing to you all (technically, to myself?) on her blog today. I've been inspired by Adventures in Cooking for as long as I've had my own blog, so to say I'm honored to be here is an understatement! For my contribution while Eva's kitchen is out of commission, I thought I'd try for something that speaks to what I love about her cooking. Stunning photography and warm, engaging storytelling aside, I love Eva's eye for original but perfectly complementary flavor pairings, like this strawberry, rhubarb & tarragon masterpiece or this tomato soup twist on mac & cheese (which, just saying, I daydream about on the regular).
So, while we're in the thick of picnic season, here's a little taste twist on a classic summer treat. I'm relatively new when it comes to using cardamom in my cooking; before this, I'd incorporated it only in its more traditional, dairy-based applications, usually when it's meant to be the star of the show. It turns out that cardamom is just as magical when it's not the dominant flavor -- in a secondary role, it adds a warm undertone and a gorgeous, subtle complexity to the flavor profile. Paired with tart berries, the result is the best kind of marriage between flavors. Not each ingredient jostling for recognition, but a single flavor, a full, round raspberry treat that just hints at something extra without forcing it on your palate.
These tarts are easily adaptable -- you could bake them in a long 4x14 pan instead of four 4-inch tartlets and make raspberry almond bars, or use a muffin pan to make mini tartlets. For a quicker, easier edition, swap in storebought jam for the homemade kind and top the bars with extra shortbread instead of the almond topping (see Notes below). Any way you slice it, I hope you enjoy these.
Eva, I hope it's smooth (and fast) sailing for the rest of your renovation! A world without you in the kitchen is a bleak one. Thank you so very much for having me on your space!
Raspberry Cardamom Almond Tarts
for the shortbread dough
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tbsp (about 140g) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
for the cardamom raspberry jam
2 cups whole raspberries (about 8 ounces by weight, or 1 cup mashed)
3-4 cardamom pods with seeds, split open (or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom)
3/4 cup sugar
for the almond topping
1-2 cardamom pods (or 1/4 tsp ground cardamom)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sliced almonds
To make the jam: Split open the cardamom pods with a knife to release the seeds. Combine the raspberries, cardamom pods and seeds, and sugar in a small pot over high heat. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously. After the raspberries dissolve, the mixture should bubble and froth, then gradually thicken to a gel. For extra structure to the jam, simmer longer, about 5-6 minutes; alternatively, add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice at the beginning, or 1 teaspoon of cornstarch at the end. Note that no matter what, the jam won’t reach a solid consistency while hot -- it will thicken upon cooling.
When the jam is at your preferred consistency, strain it through a fine mesh sieve to remove the pods. (Sadly, this will also remove the seeds, which I think add such a pretty effect to the jam. If using ground cardamom, you get to skip this step!) Strained, this makes about 3/4 cup of jam; with seeds, it will yield a generous 1 cup. Set aside to cool completely or chill in the refrigerator while you make the shortbread crust.
To make the shortbread: Cream the butter vigorously until light and smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and mix again until incorporated.
Sift the flour and salt together. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing gently until it comes together into a thick dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or freeze for 10.
To assemble: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If using miniature tartlet pans, divide the dough into four equal portions (if using a kitchen scale, each dough ball should weigh about 75 grams) and press the dough into the pans and up the sides. If using one 4x14 or 8x8 tart pan, simply press the dough into the pan in one piece. Fill the tartlets (or tart) with jam -- I used about 3 tablespoons per tartlet.
Next, make the glazed almonds. Combine sugar, water, and split cardamom pods (or ground cardamom) in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then bring the syrup to a simmer for a minute or two until it thickens slightly. Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve to strain out the pods. Let cool briefly, then pour the cardamom syrup over the sliced almonds and gently toss with a wooden spoon until coated evenly. Layer the almonds generously over each tartlet.
Bake the bars for 20-25 minutes, until the filling bubbles and the shortbread crust is browned. For one large tart, bake 35-40 minutes, keeping an eye on the browning. Let cool completely and serve! These are also wonderful (not to mention more portable) when chilled.
Notes: If you prefer a crumb topping instead of almonds, skip Step 6, and instead mix an additional 1/2 stick of butter, 3 tbsp confectioners’ sugar, and 1/2 cup all-purpose flour until it forms large, pea-sized crumbles. Scatter over the tarts and bake as directed.
If you have ground cardamom on hand, you might also consider adding a pinch to the shortbread crust.