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Citrus Mascarpone and Pistachio Tart

Makes one 12 x 4-inch (30 x 10 cm) tart (Serves 8 to 10)
Prep: 30 Minutes, plus chilling
Cook: 20 minutes

This colourful dessert is refreshing after a rich meal. Since citrus fruits are at their peak around holiday time, you can count on an intense and sweet fruit flavour.

Make ahead: You can bake the tart shell and mix the cream filling a full day ahead, but assemble the tart the day you wish to serve it, up to 6 hours ahead of serving. Store it in the fridge, uncovered, until serving time.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1/2 recipe Vínarterta Linzer Cookie dough (see below), shaped into a disc, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (235 g) mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 1⁄3 cup (45 g) icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) brandy or orange liqueur
  • 2 blood oranges (or Cara oranges)
  • 1 large navel orange
  • 1 large pink grapefruit
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) apple jelly or apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons (15 g) chopped shelled pistachios

 

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Have ready a 12 × 4-inch (30 × 10 cm) rectangular fluted pan with a removable bottom.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle about 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) thick. Line the tart pan with the dough, pressing it in and trimming away the excess. Dock the pastry with a fork (to prevent air bubbles) and chill, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Place the chilled tart shell on a baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned at the edges. Let cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
  4. To make the filling, beat the mascarpone by hand to soften it a little and then stir in the sour cream (or yogurt), icing sugar, orange zest, vanilla and brandy (or orange liqueur). Spoon into the cooled tart shell, spread evenly and level the top.
  5. Use a serrated knife to trim the top and bottom from each orange and the grapefruit, and then cut away and discard the rest of the peel, including the white pith. Using a paring knife, gently segment the fruit and separate the flesh from the white membrane. Try to keep each segment whole. Place the flesh in a bowl and discard the membranes. Arrange the citrus segments over the mascarpone filling, alternating colours.
  6. Heat the apple jelly (or apricot jam) in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until melted. Use a pastry brush to brush the citrus segments with the melted jam (to seal them and add shine). Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and chill, uncovered, for at least an hour before serving.

Note: If you don’t have a rectangular pan, use a 9-inch (23 cm) round tart pan with a removable bottom. And if blood oranges aren’t available, use a mix of tangerines or mandarins (2 of each of these for each blood orange).

 

Vínarterta Linzer Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen assembled cookies
Prep: 25 Minutes, plus chilling
Cook: 11 minutes

I love when different family traditions come together. When I celebrated my first Christmas with Michael, I learned about the Icelandic-Canadian tradition of vínarterta, a layered prune and cardamom shortbread torte that is cut into fruitcake-sized bites to enjoy. With my Slovak background, prune fillings in cookies were a Christmas staple. Now this linzer cookie merges our two family heritages into a delightful new holiday tradition! The original vínarterta torte benefits from freezing and then thawing, to soften up its layers, and the same goes for these cookies, making them a perfect make-ahead cookie for the holidays.

Make ahead: You can store these baked and assembled cookies for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container at room temperature. Or to get ahead, make the dough, shape it into a disc, wrap and freeze it for up to 3 months. To bake, thaw the dough in the fridge overnight before rolling, cutting, filling and putting the cookies in the oven. You can even make the prune filling up to 1 month ahead and store it in a jar, refrigerated.

 

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (260 g) icing sugar, sifted
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups (390 g) cake and pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups (260 g) pitted prunes
  • 1⁄3 cup (80 mL) water
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Icing sugar, for assembly (optional)

 

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. For the cookie dough, beat the butter with the icing sugar with electric beaters or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed, or by hand, until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla and almond extracts until well combined.
  2. Sift in the flour, cardamom and salt. Mix on low speed, or by hand, until evenly combined. Shape the dough into 2 discs, wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
  3. For the filling, place the prunes, water, sugar, butter, cardamom and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes and then set aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. Purée the filling mixture in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender until a thick, smooth paste. Chill until ready to use.
  5. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, knead the first disc of dough slightly to soften it (this prevents the dough from cracking when rolling). Roll the dough into a circle just under 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) thick.
  7. Use a 2-inch (5 cm) round cookie cutter to cut out enough cookies to fill a tray, 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Re-roll the dough as required. Repeat with the second disc of dough.
  8. Use a 1-inch (2.5cm) or smaller cookie cutter of the same shape (or different shape) to cut out the centre of half the cookies. (Be sure you have the same number of cookies with and without the hole in the centre.)
  9. Bake the cookies for 9 to 11 minutes, until they just begin to brown a little at the edges. The cookies with the holes will be done about 1 minute sooner than the others. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. To fill the cookies, spread a spoonful of prune filling on the bottom of each whole cookie. Gently press a cookie with a hole in it on top of each one.

 

Note: Place the cookies with holes cut out on a parchment-lined baking tray and dust them with icing sugar before assembling (pick the cookies up from the sides when assembling, to keep the dusting intact). Place the cookies with holes cut out on a parchment-lined baking tray. Whisk 1 cup (130 g) of sifted icing sugar with 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of water until smooth and drizzle over the cookies with a fork or in a piping bag fitted with a small tip. Let the glazed cookies air-dry for 2 hours before assembling the linzers.