Christmas was a quiet affair this year, without much of the usual hubbub or raucous festivities. This was partly a purposeful calm-down for me: while I usually revel in the holiday season, 2012 has been such a whirlwind that it felt good to just spend a day taking a deep breath, seeing close family and closer friends, and watching the rain pound down outside. No usual holiday dessert insanity for me this year, either. Just a simple, almost-rustic cranberry clove linzer torte: tart, buttery, spicy, sweet, and cakey, with a side of chocolate red tea that I got from a visit to the Netherlands a few years ago. The idea for a cranberry filling inside a linzer torte, which typically has a raspberry jam center, came from a colleague of mine (thanks, Beth!), and I actually like this cranberry version much better than the original. Because the cranberries are tarter, the torte isn't cloyingly sweet as it can sometimes be, and the contrast between the tart center and the sweeter, clove- and cinnamon-infused, nutty crust is such a perfect balance. The torte was so good that I made three of them, cutting large wedges as gifts to neighbors, friends, and family (and saving a fair portion for myself for breakfast this week! ;)).
What did you all have for Christmas dessert/breakfast this year?
[click on photo above for larger image]
Despite the quiet Christmas, I'm actually looking forward to a more lively New Year's this year. In years past, I've hosted a small game night on New Year's Eve for New Year's orphans (read: antisocial introverts like me who don't get invited to your stereotypical boisterous NYE extravaganzas), but this year, I have proper plans to attend a proper NYE party, which I'm properly excited about! :D My friend and I are going to make this gorgonzola and pear galette, which the host has eloquently renamed, "Galette de Poires à la Gorgonzola"--everything sounds way more festive in French, doesn't it!
Then, a few days after New Years, I'm off to Boston for a short business trip. It's been years since I've been to Boston last, but I'm excited to get to explore the city again. Please, please, please--if you have any recommendations for must-eat or must-see places in Boston, please leave them in a comment below!
I hope you all are having wonderful holidays, be it Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, or Yay-no-work-or-school-for-a-couple-of-days-and-the-freeways-aren't-crowded-at-all Week! Happy Holidays!
Read on for recipe...
Cranberry Clove Linzer Torte
makes one 9-inch tart
for cranberry filling
2 cups fresh cranberries
125 g sugar
zest of 1 small orange
juice of 1 small orange
juice of ½ lemon
½ vanilla bean
1. Combine the cranberries, sugar, orange zest, and orange and lemon juices in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape the seeds into the cranberries, and add the vanilla bean shell.
2. Over medium heat, bring the cranberries to a boil, stirring occasionally. Let the cranberries boil, bubbling vigorously, for about 5 to 7 minutes without stirring. Once the cranberries begin to thicken, stir, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mix reaches a consistency of warm jam.
3. Remove from heat immediately and let cool to room temperature. Remove the vanilla bean pod before using.
30 g hazelnuts
76 g almonds
125 g all-purpose flour
150 g sugar
½ tspn salt
1½ tspn ground cinnamon
¾ tspn ground cloves
10 Tbspn (142 g) butter
1 large egg yolk
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
½ tspn almond extract
4. In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts, almonds, flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Pulse until the nuts are completely ground.
5. Cut the butter into small chunks. Add the butter, egg yolk, lemon and orange zest, and almond extract to the flour mixture. Pulse just until a dough begins to form.
6. Remove the dough from the food processor, wrap with parchment paper, and chill for at least 1 hour.
7. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour one 9-inch springform pan, and line the bottom with a parchment round.
8. Reserve a third of the dough and press the remainder into the bottom of the pan. Spread a thin layer of cranberry filling on top, leaving a 1-inch ring of dough exposed around the edge.
9. Roll out the remaining dough on a floured surface. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes and scatter randomly atop the tart.
10. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown around the edges and on top.
11. Remove from the oven. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, and then loosen the sides with a thin knife. Let cool completely before serving.
Crust recipe adapted from Alice Medrich's Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts