Shortbread Tart with Apricot Jam and Hazelnuts

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Maybe this weekend holds a holiday party for you. What to bring? A bottle is always welcome, and cookies are an obvious choice, but I recommend my new favorite dessert. The shortbread tart.

My abuelito used to keep a tin of Danish butter cookies on top of the fridge, and I loved to sneak a couple of cookies when we visited. That buttery crumb is irresistible. At some point, the blue tins disappeared. I think he forgot to buy them. So I forgot about shortbread for a long time, too.

Then this shortbread tart with pockets of jam and a sprinkling of chopped nuts came into my life, and in the past week I’ve made two. A third may be slated for this weekend, if that tells you anything about how easily this comes together and how irresistible it is.

Even better, this shortbread tart is infinitely adaptable. The recipe I found on Food52 called for sliced almonds, but I wanted to use hazelnuts. Try any jam you like. I bet walnuts and pecans would work well. I reduced the cooking time quite a bit; just make sure the top is golden brown and fragrant and you’ll know it’s done.

Serve with whipped cream for bonus points, but with or without it this recipe is a winner.

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shortbread tart with apricot jam and hazelnuts

This is an easy recipe that will adapt to whatever jam or nuts you’d like to try together. The ingredients are basic and it all comes together quickly, making this a perfect dessert to bring to a party. Who can resist the buttery crumb of shortbread? Serve with whipped cream for dessert or an indulgent breakfast.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (6 ounces or 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup (7 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (2 ounces) apricot jam
1/3 cup (1 ounce) hazelnuts, chopped (and blanched, if possible, but the browned skins of the hazelnuts add some nice contrast to the tart or some can be picked off afterward if it’s too much for you)
whipped cream, for serving

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Place butter and sugar in a bowl and use an electric mixer (with a paddle attachment) to beat on medium speed until the ingredients look whipped and lighter in color, about 3 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed to incorporate all the butter and sugar.  Add vanilla extract and blend just until combined.

In another bowl, whisk the flour and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the whipped butter mixture and combine on a low speed just until combined. Reserve 1/2 cup of the dough on a small plate or bowl and place in the freezer. This will make the dough easier to crumble.

Press the rest of the dough into a 9 or 9 1/2-inch tart pan. Try to get an even layer, though it’s fine if the edges are a little higher than the rest.

Use a small offset spatula or a spoon to spread the jam in a thin layer over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges.

Take the reserved dough from the freezer and crumble it in small pieces over the dough in the pan. Some of the jam should still peek through. Sprinkle the chopped nuts evenly over the dough.

Place in the center of the oven and bake until golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Place tart on a rack to cool completely. Cut into 8 or 12 slices and serve, preferably with whipped cream.

Store the tart covered at room temperature and covered in plastic wrap for 3 to 4 days, though I doubt you’ll let it last that long!

Serves 8 to 12. Adapted from Food52/  Desserts: Mediterranean Flavors, California Style.

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