by Sheila Connolly
I love it when things come together.
So, picture it: I'm wandering in one of the several antique malls in downtown Plymouth, in the company of one of my oldest friends, who appears to share my fascination with weird antiques, particularly cookware. Yep, two not-young ladies wandering around picking up things and muttering to themselves (what's worse, we were picking up the same things individually—I knew there was a reason we were friends).
And I happened upon a treasure—well, to me at least: a set of Swedish tartlet tins, all twenty-four of them, in pristine, unused condition. I was smitten, especially because of the recipe on the cover (the maker kindly provided both the English and the Swedish versions, not to mention a supplemental recipe inside the box). I give them here forthwith.
Okay, I know, we're all cookied out after the holidays. Yes, I have eaten every cookie I made, with a little help, and I thought I had moved on, until I found the Mörmått. What's so special about this recipe? The bitter almonds.
If you're not a classic mystery buff, you might not know that bitter almonds are the basis for the poison cyanide (and its distinctive odor).
So these are the tins for a murderer—except you can't buy bitter almonds in this country. Maybe overseas. So, alas, I am forced to make a substitution: the trusty almond extract. They'll still taste good, and no one will drop dead in your parlor.
Of course I didn't follow either recipe, exactly. One was made with ground almonds and flour, the other with flour only. One, all butter; the other, a blend of butter and shortening. I wanted a bit of texture, so I followed substituted a half-cup of almonds (from Recipe 1) ground in the food processor for a half-cup of flour (from Recipe 2).
½ cup salted butter
½ cup solid shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
½ cup ground almonds
Cream the shortening, butter, and sugar. Add the egg and almond extract. Add flour and mix until you have a stiff dough.
Take about a tablespoon full of batter, place it in a tin (you do not need to grease them, but feel free to use a cooking spray if you like) and press the dough evenly inside the tin.
Place the tins on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool and remove carefully from the tins. Makes at least 24 tart shells.
Fill with whatever you want!
Observations: The instructions say, once the ingredients are mixed into a stiff batter, take pieces and squish into the little tins to make a crust, as thin as possible. Talk about labor-intensive! I picture a lady hosting her bridge group—and the hired help filling the molds in the kitchen. I ended up with rather thick tartlet shells, but that saves you on the filling. They're good eaten plain, but if you want to add something, you can use a dollop of whipped cream, some of that ganache from last week, a nice jam, even fresh fruit. Or you can just go ahead and make cookies out of them!