It's the Least I Could Do: Linzertorte

The normal protocol when visiting parents with a new baby is to be as helpful as possible -- schedule at their convenience, bring a meal, and certainly don't create any work for the couple. But when we set up a time to visit our friends Chris and Margaret to meet their new baby, they said that they wanted to make us dinner. I felt terribly guilty accepting their offer, but they were insistent -- and I got a small measure of comfort when Chris said I could at least bring a dessert. (Margaret is a terrific baker and she always makes dessert when they host us for dinner.)

Chris passed along a request for a dessert with no frosting, and so I immediately started thinking about tarts. I know that Margaret loves almonds (the Almond Cloud is one of her favorite cookies), so I decided to try James Peterson's Linzertorte recipe.

You can make the linzer pastry by hand or in a food processor: I used the food processor, which Peterson says is easier by far, although it has two potential disadvantages: 1) a crust that is less flaky and more crumbly, and 2) the dough can overheat in the food processor. I froze my butter before making the crust to deal with the overheating hazard. But making the crust is otherwise simple: mix almond flour, cake flour, cubes of cold butter, sugar, and salt in the food processor; add an egg and vanilla; and process until the dough comes together.

My dough was quite soft, so I chilled it before rolling out the dough and using it to line a 10-inch tart ring. I chilled the raw tart shell before filling it with almond cream (a mixture of almond flour, butter, sugar, egg, and egg yolk), and a layer of raspberry preserves. Then I rolled out the remaining linzer pastry and cut it into lattice strips that I laid over the jam. After a quick brush of egg wash, the tart was ready to bake.
The tart filling rose during baking, and as a result, some of the lattice strips of pastry on top broke in a few places. But the filling settled back down as the tart cooled and the minor cracks didn't detract from the tart's overall lovely appearance.

I was gratified that our hosts seemed to truly enjoy the linzertorte, as did I! I love almonds, and the almond cream filling was outstanding -- a dense but creamy, deeply flavorful, super almond-y indulgence. The pastry was rich and buttery (and not crumbly at all, despite my making it in the food processor), and raspberry jam is always a perfect pairing with almond. This is such a delicious dessert that I would absolutely make it again. And most of all, I think it was an suitable finish for a wonderful meal with generous friends.

Recipe: "Linzertorte" from Baking by James Peterson.