Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Valentines Tart

Happy Valentine's Day dear reader. February is always a special month for me. It includes my birthday, the birthdays of some dear family and friends, today's holiday, often Mardi Gras and Chinese New Year, Lincoln and Washington's birthdays, the blooming time for almonds and some plums and for the California lilacs and some bulbs. That's a lot. It is also usually the time I start seeds for the spring and summer garden. This year I have seedlings already reaching for the sun in the sunspace for tomatoes, pumpkins, some squash, peas and cucumbers. The peas will get planted out soon as long as the weather looks like it will stay warm enough. The rest will stay inside and be re-potted to larger pots until things are warm enough overnight to allow them to thrive outside.

Yesterday I made a lovely Linzer tart with raspberry filling, which is perfect for Valentine's Day. I made one that is six inches across, plus a couple of small ones in pie tins for gifts, but the recipe is actually for one large on (9-10 inches across), and is a slight variation of the Linzer Cookies recipe that I posted the first year I was blogging...and that was a long time ago.

This is a sophisticated European style tart from Linz in Austria/Germany. My grandmother's family were from Linz, so I always think of her when I make this. A nut-enriched dough is used for the tart crust and it contains a bit of lemon zest, spices and a touch of cocoa (that slight variation I was talking about). The filling is fruit jam, often raspberry, but you can use apricot or plum if you prefer. The top usually has a lattice crust, but I went with cut outs that look like flowers instead. Less fussy and a bit more modern, but still pretty.

You serve wedges of this tart and a sprinkle of powdered sugar is appropriate to dust them with for presentation. I don't think anything else is needed, but a very traditional side would be softly whipped cream. Hope you enjoy your Valentine's day and share your love...and this tart. It may sound complicated, but is actually pretty easy to make using the food processor.

Linzer Tart
a variation of Linzer Cookies recipe from Maida Heatter, 
Maida Heatter's Book of Great Cookies

1 1/2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon powdered cloves
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, chilled
2 1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) finely ground almonds/almond flour
1 egg
1 cup thick red or black raspberry preserves, seedless if possible

1) Adjust oven rack one-third up from the bottom and preheat to 375 degrees F.

2) Sift together 1 1/2 cups of the flour (reserve remaining 2 tablespoons), baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, cocoa, salt into a large mixing bowl.

3) Put granulated sugar and lemon zest into a small bowl and rub the zest into the sugar to mix. Add the brown sugar and almonds/almond flour stir to mix well.

4) Place the flour mixture and almond mixture into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix.

5) Slice the butter into pieces. Distribute around bowl of food processor and pulse to cut butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is fine and crumbly.

6) In a small bowl stir the egg lightly with a fork just to mix. Add the egg to the work bowl dough and process  until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Dough will clump together. Remove and reserve 3/4 cup of the dough.

7) Place the remaining dough in an unbuttered 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and set aside.

8) Replace the reserved 3/4 cup of dough in the work bowl. Add the reserved 2 tablespoons flour. Pulse until the flour is all incorporated. Form the dough into a flattened disc and place between two large pieces of wax paper. With a rolling pin, roll over the wax paper to roll the dough into a 9-inch round, (or as close to a circle as you can manage). Slide a cookie sheet under the paper and transfer the dough to the freezer for a few minutes.

9) Flour your fingertips and press the dough that is in the pan to even it out on the bottom of the tart pan. In a small bowl, stir the preserves slightly just to soften. Spread them evenly over the layer of dough in the pan, keeping the preserves 1/4 to 1/3 inch away from the edges.

10) Remove the chilled dough from the freezer. (At this point you can decide to cut out topping dough in shapes like I did, or do the usual lattice, as described here.)
Remove and replace one piece of waxed paper just to loosen it. Turn the dough and both pieces of wax paper over. Then remove and do not replace the other piece of paper. With a serrated knife, cut the dough into 1/2 inch wide strips; you will have 18 strips, each 1/2 inch wide and 9 or so inches long. Place half of the strips over the preserves, placing them 1./2 inch apart and parallel. Work carefully as dough strips are delicate. If they break, put the pieces in line and press ends together gently. Turn the pan and place the remaining 9 strips crosswise over the first ones, again placing them 1/2 inch apart. This forms a lattice top. If the strips become too soft to work with, rechill as necessary. (If you like you can brush finished top crust pieces with an egg wash of one egg mixed with one teaspoon water, but that is optional. Some people also add sliced almonds on top of the egg wash.)

10) Bake for 30 minutes in preheated 375 degree F. oven or until the top is a rich golden brown.

11) Cool completely in the pan, then push up from bottom to release the tart. Cut it into wedges to serve. Can be sprinkled lightly with confectioners' sugar if desired. 


  1. Yum, I've HAD these as cookies before - as an entire tart, wow. Bad things involving entire tarts and me alone in a kitchen would probably happen...

  2. I know what you mean...the tart would be history and I would need to add a ton of workouts to my schedule, which so won't happen.

  3. They look lovely. You've got the pastry so thin and crispy. A stylish giant jam tart, yum!

  4. I have had these as cookies and they're lovely BUT as a tart! Wow! Very nice.