Italian Almond Tart

Yield:8 slices
I originally tried this Williams-Sonoma recipe because I had an under-used tart pan and because I was going to a party where a couple of people couldn't have chocolate (gasp).  Much to our surprise, both my husband and I really loved this tart.  I have always been a huge fan of anything with almond paste or marzipan in it, and this tart really delivers on the almond flavor.  The crust is sweet, like a cookie dough, and is slightly prebaked and then spread over the top with cherry jam. The filling is a moist, dense almond cake.  It's a little time-consuming to make this tart, but it can easily be done in stages.  The crust can be frozen or refrigerated for several days. The filling doesn't get soggy and the tart should be served at room temperature so it can be baked the day before you need it.  I'll be making this for dinner parties and bringing it to potlocks.

1 recipe Basic Sweet Tart Dough
8 Tbs. unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temperature
1/2 lb. almond paste, cut into 1-inch cubes (from can, not tube)
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup raspberry, plum or cherry jam
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1. Fold the dough round in half and carefully transfer to a 9 1/2-inch tart pan, preferably with a removable bottom. Unfold and ease the round into the pan, without stretching it, and pat it firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Trim off any excess dough by gently running a rolling pin across the top of the pan. Press the dough into the sides to extend it slightly above the rim to offset any shrinkage during baking.

2. Refrigerate or freeze the tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F.

3. Line the pastry shell with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or raw short-grain rice. Bake for 20 minutes, then lift an edge of the foil. If the dough looks wet, continue to bake, checking every 5 minutes, until the dough is pale gold, for a total baking time of 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack.

4. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F.

5. In a bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed or a whisk, beat the butter until smooth. Add the almond paste, one piece at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. While continuing to beat, sprinkle in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the flour.

6. Spread the jam evenly over the bottom of the partially baked tart shell. Spoon in the almond paste mixture and spread evenly over the jam. Sprinkle the surface evenly with the sliced almonds.

7. Bake the tart until the filling is golden and the middle is firm to the touch, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the tart cool completely. If using a tart pan with a removable bottom, let the sides fall away, then slide the tart onto a serving plate. Serve at room temperature.