Caprice. A word seldom used in English, but common in French and Italian (capriccio), especially when it comes to children. Leave it to the Romance languages to aptly capture what we call a "tantrum." Faire des caprices. I picture a Diva, storming off stage mid-aria in a wild swing of emotions when her accompanist misses a note.
A caprice comes down to impulses, urges and unpredictability.
Since Roman turned two, I've disregarded the idea of "terrible twos." He is eagerly conversing in two languages, taking in the magic of New York City, forming friendships, singing and dancing. None of that feels terrible in the least.
Of course our days are not without conflict. Just yesterday he lay screaming on the floor of a NY public library at the mere suggestion that he put his coat on before going out into the 40 degree chill.
So when I came across a recipe called Ladies' Caprice in Ruth's Box, I was fascinated.
Caprice: An extravagant and sudden whim.
What would Ruth-- a NY lady, wife and mother of two, do when faced with an extravagant and sudden whim of her own? Shop for a bold new hat? Smoke a cigarette and dream of some far off land? Call a friend and scheme against her husband? Perhaps she would just bake.
The recipe card was hard to decipher. I gather from her incomplete notes that Ruth must have baked a few Ladies' Caprice in her time. So I improvised.
Ladies' Caprice: meet Nonna Elena's marmalade tart, meet Brutti Ma Buoni nut/meringue cookies.
I hope I did justice to the original recipe. I can assure you that this remarkable tart will calm whatever sudden, extravagant whims you might have. It's just that good. So please, pas de caprices.
For the dough:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces cold sweet butter (1 stick plus about 1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cream
For the filling:
Black raspberry jam (8 or more ounces)
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and sweet butter (cut into chunks). Process until the butter is broken up into small pieces. Add the sugar, egg yolks (reserve the whites for the tart filling) and cream. Continue to process until the mixture begins to come together. Form it into a ball with your hands.
Grease a tart pan with a removable bottom. Flatten the ball of dough and press it evenly into the tart pan, using the heel of your hands, work the dough slowly to extend it to the edges and up the sides of the tart pan. Prick all around with a fork and bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Let cool completely.
Spread the black raspberry jam along the bottom of the cooled tart shell.
Make the filling:
Using an electric beater, beat the 2 egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla extract. Use a silicone spatula to fold in one cup of finely chopped walnuts.
Spread this mixture on top of the raspberry jam in your tart shell.
Bake once again at 350 degrees, for about 40-45 minutes.
Let cool before serving.
This will keep well overnight if you want to make it one day before serving, and will keep for several days.