Tarts and Cakes and Joy

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The nicer weather has brought with it numerous things all resulting in joy.  It has brought the reddish-green rhubarb leaves poking up through cracks in the dirt. The pleated strawberry leaves unfolding from dark green to light, opening like tiny fans. The cherry bushes are holding onto their pink blossoms, waiting for the right moment to bloom. I am on constant asparagus and morel watch in my yard. The grass is so, so green. It twinkles in the dew when I walk my son to the bus stop at 8 a.m. Even with this morning’s almost frosty cold, and yesterday’s tiniest flurry of snow, the joy can’t be tamped down!

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With apologies to Robert Frost, in my neighborhood, nature’s first green is red. All the red maple flower buds cast a red haze as they swell, and soon they will drop and cover the streets with red as well. The understory, however, is gold–the spicebushes, the honeysuckle or lonicera bush, and the lilacs leafing out.  I am transfixed by all this beauty. It translates to instant joy and wonder. I am feeling so at ease. Every little thing is all right. Going to bed in the evening is joy–weary from hiking and gardening. Waking up early, and it’s requisite hot cup of coffee, are joy.

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You know what else is joy? Yes, you guessed it. Cakes and tarts. They are so full of joy. Lately, my son has been worried about whether what he is eating is something healthy or not. My answer is that most things are healthy in moderation. Having a mix of things is what is most healthy. It’s good to have a balance of all kinds of things. Even a little cake, which, yes, is not all that healthy. But emotionally, isn’t a little cake good for you? It imparts joy, and isn’t that nutritious? Do you like my philosophy?

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I made this jam tart the other day and it cheered my day, how pretty and easy and tasty it was. Instead of using 12 tablespoons of butter, I used 8 and added 1/4 cup of full-fat Greek yogurt. My son didn’t like it, because of the almonds on top, but I did. So much so that I froze half of it so I wasn’t tempted to eat it all. [Side note: the recipe calls it fregolotta, but the recipes I’ve seen for true fregolotta were much less dressed up and truly more a dry cookie, with much less butter. But I am no expert on fregolotta.]

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Other joys I have bookmarked (most of them from Food52, and many almond-y things):

Almond Coconut Cake (here’s my back of the box discovery: almond bars from Watkins Almond extract)

Almond Coffee Cake

Chocolate Mochi Snack Cake

Calabrian Walnut Cake

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11 thoughts on “Tarts and Cakes and Joy”

  1. I am not feeling this joyful yet. Perhaps it was yesterday’s snowfall and the dread of dead lilacs and apples yet again. So thanks for this perky post. Do you know those reds that are the early blush of spring are from anthocyanins? They are antioxidants that protect the nascent plants. Fun fact! xo

    1. Did you guys get an actual snow fall? We got flurries but it was enough to scare everyone. It has been a little too cold for my liking, but I’m still feeling the joy. I really feel out of the woods. Next week will be better! xo

  2. I like the idea of cake as emotionally healthy, although I make less and less sweet stuff lately. I totally remember that walnut cake on Food52, I’m thinking I don’t have that many walnuts on hand, but maybe just enough for a weekend cake?

  3. Your tart seems like a good way for this beginner to use up some of those jams I made that don’t quite look so pretty as yours…like the green pear jam that tasted good but was way too ugly to give away…see you in class on May 2!

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