Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why there's not a good support group for my problem

Me:  Hi. I'm Sharon, and I'm a bake-aholic.
Crowd: Hi, Sharon. Ooh! Did you make the challah*?

Me:  I've started buying flour and sugar in the 10 lb. bags.  The 5 lb size just doesn't do it for me any more, you know? I go through it too fast. There are three bottles of vanilla paste in the pantry.  I'm buying it online now**, and intercepting the packages before my husband gets home.  Don't you see? I'm out of control.  Something is very wrong here!
My Sponsor:  I brought my tupperware.  Is it OK if I take a few of those little pecan things home?

My husband: All she does is make cookies and pies. She doesn't even need, like, a reason.  It's just insane. The other day, she made a tart out of leftover cranberry sauce, for God's sake.  That can't be normal.  Plus, she's dealing now.  To her friends.  I'm not kidding.  They took a holiday baking class*** from her, and then went home with sugar cookie dough.  These women have kids, man!  This is some crazy s*&!#!!  I love her. But I can't stop her. I'm afraid my wife is becoming a menace to herself and others.
The Police:  Can we be adopted and come to your house?

Shortbread Jam Tart (Warning: Highly Addictive!)
I first had this tart at a friend's house, and begged for the recipe (I need it! Really bad. Come on! I'll do anything!) When I saw the cranberry sauce in the fridge a few days after our delayed Thanksgiving dinner, inspiration struck. The shortbread crust is exactly as it should be...buttery, with a hint of almond and just the right amount of sugar. Like the luscious stone fruit tart I made, the same dough is used for the tart base and the crumble topping. The jam layer is thin and lovely, more an accent than a filling, offering a fruity, tart contrast to the shortbread. Throw in a few nuts for crunch and balance, and you've got a state of pure bliss on your hands.  No wonder I keep doing this!

3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. apricot jam, or a mixture of jam and leftover cranberry sauce, in my case.  Mix it up!
1/3 - 1/2 c. slivered almonds or chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350.  You'll need a 9 inch tart pan with removable sides****.

Cream butter and sugar together until light, then mix in almond extract.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the the flour and the salt, then stir this into the butter mixture using a wooden spoon.  Mix just until dough begins to come together, and is stiff and crumbly.

Reserve 1/2 c. of the dough, spread it in small crumbles and chunks on a plate, and put the plate into the freezer.  Press remaining dough into the bottom and sides of your pan.  The edges will be a little thicker than they would be for a standard tart, but that's fine.

Spread the jam evenly over the dough.  Take the plate with the remaining dough out of the freezer, and crumble on top of the jam.  Sprinkle with nuts, to taste.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until edges and topping are light golden brown.  Cool, and dust with powdered sugar just before serving, if desired.

Click to print this recipe!

* Yes, I did.  A dozen fresh-from-the-oven loaves for a school fundraiser.  Sold out in 10 minutes, raised $300.
** Free two-day shipping with Amazon prime. Talk about an enabler!
*** I'll cop to this one.  I did spend three hours as a cookie baking pusher, but it was for a good cause.  We made these, these, these, these, these, these, these, and these, and raised another $1000 for charity.  Mine is clearly an addiction for good.
**** I used a 10 inch tart pan, and did 1 1/2 x the recipe to account for the larger size.

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