Last weekend was Misa’s fourth time running the Corning Wineglass Marathon. Besides the usual shirt and goodies, they give each runner a little bottle of wine and a wineglass. This was Misa’s fourth time to run it, but because she is allergic to alcohol, the bottle just goes in the cupboard. Just two more marathons and she’ll have a full place setting! Go Misa!
I of course didn’t run, both because I didn’t sign up (convenient excuse), and because I am nowhere even close to being in training for it (harsh reality). But I do run with Misa and her friends on weekends. We start at the Ithaca farmers market and do a loop along the lake, and then end up back at the market for ice cream.
Last weekend two of her running friends invited everyone over for lunch. These friends are known for really elaborate dinner parties, and when they suggested we could bring a desert, I knew that we would be up against a pretty high standard.
After a lot of hand-wringing, I decided on this strawberry almond tart. It’s the classic strawberry tart, with a few variations: the crust is actually a recipe for almond biscotti, and I used almond flour to add flavor and density to the egg custard.
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup almond flour*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls, and then slowly blend in the dry ingredients until you have a smooth dough that you can shape into a ball. Flatten and roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper and gently fold into a springform pan. Puncture the dough with a fork and bake at 325 degrees, just enough to set the crust.
1 tbs butter
1/4 cup almond flour
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp corn starch (or equivalent)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbs rum
In a small saucepan, gently warm the almond flour with the butter, just until fragrant. Remove from heat, and allow to cool. Add in remaining ingredients except the rum, and cook over low heat until the mixture just begins to thicken. Again allow to cool (it will continue to thicken during this time) and stir in rum at the end.
Spoon the custard into the half-baked crust (you can also sprinkle a handful of chopped almonds into the unbaked custard) and return to 325 degree oven for another 20 minutes, or until the eggs are fully set, and the crust begins to brown.
For the topping, you can use fresh strawberries, raspberries, or whatever is on hand. For cut strawberries, I like to soften them slightly by pouring boiling water over the berries in a colander, and then tossing with a couple of teaspoons of sugar. This gives you a very light glaze, brings out the color and taste of the fruit, and adds sweetness to the light taste of the custard. Arrange as you like over the cooled custard, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
But what about the biscotti? If you do end up with leftover dough, you can mix in some halved almonds and a splash of rum or sambuca, and bake these like regular biscotti. One dish, two deserts!
* If you can’t find almond flour, you can either grind up almonds in a coffee grinder, or replace it with regular flour in the crust, and omit it from the custard