SAN DIEGO – As the holidays become closer, thoughts and feelings about Christmas’s past and other forms of celebration may ignite memories-especially of those with whom we celebrated. As Americans make preparations for sharing COVID Christmas with their limited number of guests, there is no doubt that our most beloved family members will be even more cherished!
With on-and-off quarantines and a variety of COVID-related restrictions, many of us are less able to enjoy Christmas as we did in the past. Particularly our older family members or those with conditions that make them at a higher risk. The many months of isolating and confining concerns and precautions have, for some, caused greater introspection relative to what is most important in life.
For many, it is the sites, the sounds, the smells, and the tastes of the holiday.
Mom’s Swedish Almond Tarts sparked childhood memories of weeks-long baking of Christmas delights, many of which were of Swedish origin
Mother was a first-generation American, her parents being Swedish immigrants to America. Grandfather was the proprietor of the only Swedish bakery in a small midwestern town–a family business that was very busy and involved the entire family.
My mother enjoyed sharing stories about how Grandad was always at the bakery at 5 a.m., along with his brother; and, together they baked all their pastries, bread, pies, cakes, tarts and cookies, and more completely from scratch! Mom inherited the gift of baking in which she was most proud to share during Christmastime. Her baking skills quickly becoming a much-desired gift by friends and family.
Her pride in her craft was so great, she would not release her recipe for her Swedish Almond Tarts, which she named including her first name. She did not want to share with anyone else because to her, they were crowning glory.
It was only five years before her death that Mom shared this family coveted recipe, written in her own hand.
In the spirit of the holidays, here is Mom’s Swedish Almond Tarts recipe for you to enjoy with those most special in your life now and in the years to come.
Realizing that some are on specialized diets for health reasons, some alternative ingredients will be suggested.
MOM’S SWEDISH ALMOND TARTS
Ingredients for Tart Filling:
One regular-sized tube of almond paste, at room temperature.
1/3 cup butter (or butter substitute) at room temperature/softened.
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk (or egg substitute).
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
1/2 teaspoon pure rum extract.
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract.
Soften and push through a standard hand grater with larger holes.
Mix softened almond paste with softened butter with a wooden spoon.
Add eggs, vanilla, rum and almond extracts, and mix thoroughly until light in color.
Set mix aside and prepare tart crust, and may be prepared the day before and set aside at room temperature once tart crusts (below) are baked and cooled.
Almond Tart Crust Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter (or butter substitute) softened.
1/3 cup sifted, then packed, powder sugar (or sugar substitute).
1 egg yolk.
1 cup baking flour, packed.
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract.
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
Using an electric mixer, preferably hand-held, cream the butter and powdered sugar together.
Add egg yolk, almond, and vanilla extracts.
Add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, and thoroughly mix by hand, with a wooden spoon. Cover and chill for one-half hour (30 minutes).
Once chilled, divide crust dough into 14 equal pieces (maximum of 15-16).
Press each piece into the bottom of an individual tart mold in a fluted tart tin to fill tin as well as possible.
Add equal distributions of the tart filling (above), and fill each tart tin mold carefully.
Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes. Check while baking at approximately 20 minutes, and turn the tart tin completely around, and continue baking for 5 more minutes. Be certain to bake in the center oven. If tart tins are small and individual, set upon a cookie sheet to bake.
Cool tarts on a metal bake rack for approximately 2 hours.
While tarts are cooling, proceed to mix the light topping glaze.
Ingredients for Light Tart Glaze:
1 standard container of premade White Fluffy Frosting (sold in grocery).
3 drops of pure brandy extract.
Directions for Glaze
Mix premade white fluffy frosting with brandy extract.
Whip by hand until well-mixed.
Frost cooled slightly, frost each tart, and let sit for approximately 10 minutes to slightly dry.
If desired top each tart with 1/2 red or green dried, glazed cherry to the center of each tart for some additional Christmas cheer!
Please enjoy Mom’s Swedish Almond Tarts this year, as you celebrate your own holiday traditions with gratitude for the blessings of the season and for those whom we are fortunate to be sharing it with
Happy Holidays from all of us at LifeCycles!
(Main image: Thanks to Irina @sofiameli for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁
Thanks to lilzidesigns @loravisuals for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁