OK, I am officially in major baking mode for the holiday season. But Molly, aren’t you always in major baking mode?? Well, uh, yes, but consider this major baking mode plus because these days I’m not just testing blog recipes and baking the occasional birthday cake, but I’m also cranking out tasty lil gift boxes for people around town and my entries for the various cookie swaps that I’m going to this month.
So what does baking mode plus look like? There is a steady supply of butter softening on my counter at all times, my fridge is filled with stacks of discs of dough wrapped in plastic wrap, two stand mixers are out on the counter, I have a regular container of well beaten egg wash sitting in my fridge ready to go at a moment’s notice, the smell of almond and vanilla is in the air, there is probably flour on my face, and I am dressed warmly in fluffy socks and sweaters because I like keeping it kind of cool in the kitchen so that doughs are easier to handle. Also, Christmas movies or ice skating are always always on the TV. And water is in my cup. Because cold Midwest tap water has been at the top of my cravings list and also because everything I read about drinking tea while preggo is kind of a question mark?? I can’t really keep it straight, so I’ve pretty much been avoiding it altogether, even though I realllly want to complete this vibe with sugar cookie Christmas tea, which is probably just vanilla flavored water, but I’m just that paranoid.
One treat I’ve been baking a ton of has been Mazariner, Swedish almond tarts. They are basically a buttery crunchy cookie cup filled with dense almond cake. In my mind, they’re marzipan in tart form, and you know how marzipan runs through my veins this time of year. I always used to get them for dessert at IKEA when my mom and I would go eat Swedish meatballs. They weren’t the prettiest dessert because they were unglazed and just two shades of brown, but they were by far the tastiest. I don’t actually know if they serve them anymore, but still to this day, I just cannot get enough of the texture of the filling. It’s a texture that I don’t see too often in desserts because even though it’s cakey, the only leavening agent in it is eggs, so it’s extra dense, almost as if it wants to be a blondie when it grows up. The whole tart is quite sturdy, which is one reason why I plan to gift a bunch of these this month. I’ve been topping them with a powdered sugar and heavy cream glaze, which makes a thick cloud-like topping, and to some of them I’ve been adding cranberry juice for bright natural color. And it’s kewt to decorate all of them differently, with fresh cranberries, herbs, sprinkles, etc., you know the drill!
And I’ve partnered with Pampered Chef on this post because their tools have been such amazing help during my big long baking days. I seriously use their stackable cooling racks every single day because of how much I can fit on them and how much space I save. I also love their medium sheet pans because of how sturdy and heavy duty they are. Other tools of theirs that rock are their pretty marble rolling pin, small spreaders (perfect for decorating these tarts), medium scoops (great for distributing the tart filling evenly), sturdy serving spatulas, heavy duty silicon-coated sauce whisks, classic batter bowls, muffin pan, small glass mixing bowls, and stainless steel mixing bowl set. All of the bowls I’ve used in this post have lids, which are so great because sometimes I need to keep glazes and egg washes going for a couple of days, or prep fillings and such a day in advance. Thank you so much, Pampered Chef, for providing these tools and sponsoring this post!!
1/3 c (67g) sugar
1 3/4 c (228g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c (168g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 large eggs, separated
1 c (120g) almond meal
3/4 c (150g) sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 tb (85g) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract
1 large egg
1 c (120g) powdered sugar
1/4 c (60 ml) heavy cream or 2 tb cranberry juice
1/4 tsp almond extract
To decorate: sprinkles, fresh herbs, sliced almonds, fresh cranberries
To make the shells, in a food processor, pulse together the sugar, flour, and salt to combine. Add the butter and continue to pulse until mealy. Add the egg yolks (reserve the egg whites for the filling) and pulse until the dough comes together. Press the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
To make the filling, combine the almond meal, sugar, salt, and butter, either by blending it in the food processor (no need to clean it out after making the dough, you can just use it immediately for this step), or by stirring it together in a large bowl (I find it’s easiest to get in there with my hands). Add the almond extract, egg, and the reserved egg whites from the shells, and continue to blend/stir until smooth and combined. Set aside while you mold the shells.
To mold the shells, grease a muffin tin. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4” thick, dusting with more flour as needed. Cut out 3” circles and press them into the muffin cups, pressing so that the dough comes all the way up the sides. No worries if the dough tears, just patch it up additional dough. Freeze the shells for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Fill the frozen shells with the filling so that it comes up about 1/4” from the top. Bake until the tops and edges are lightly browned; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then use a small offset spatula or a knife to remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and heavy cream or cranberry juice until smooth. Add additional powdered sugar or liquid to thicken it up or thin it out so that you get the consistency of a thick glue. Spread the glaze over the cooled tarts and decorate with sprinkles, herbs, cranberries, almonds, and anything else you’d like! These will keep for several days at room temperature or in the fridge.