Cranberries are the under-appreciated fruit of fall and winter. They’re often relegated to a sad cylinder of canned cranberry sauce at the edge of the Thanksgiving table, an afterthought to the apples and pumpkins taking up the dessert space.
Which is a shame, because when strategically deployed, cranberry desserts not only bring a welcome burst of color, they bring a lovely puckery acidity to punctuate a big meal.
This cranberry curd tart is the cold-weather dessert you didn’t know you needed. The curd itself is a deep-red garnet color, with a silky smooth texture and the tart cranberry flavor gets rounded out with vanilla and orange (and not a small amount of butter and sugar and eggs).
It sits on a super-easy press-in shortbread crust that doesn’t need any resting time, making this even easier than most pies.
And, because the curd leaves a couple of egg whites behind, I like to top it with a bit of Italian meringue that I hit with a blow torch.
Which, honestly, is a totally unnecessary bit of showing off and you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.
(You know you want to.)
For the crust
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest of one orange
For the cranberry curd
- 12 ounces cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- juice of one orange
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier (optional)
For the Italian meringue
- 2 egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
Make the crust
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Add the flour, powdered sugar, and salt to a small bowl and whisk together. Melt the butter in a small saucepan (or in the microwave), add the vanilla extract and orange zest to the butter and stir, then pour into the dry ingredients and stir together until thoroughly moistened.
- Press the dough evenly along the bottom and sides into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Make the cranberry curd
- Heat the cranberries and orange juice in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the cranberries split. Strain through a food mill or fine mesh sieve and discard the skins.
- Return the strained cranberry mixture to the saucepan and add the sugar, eggs, egg yolks, butter, vanilla, and orange liqueur (if using) to the pan and give everything a good stir. Heat gently over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and registers 170°F on an instant read thermometer (this usually takes about 8-9 minutes). Immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl (ideally with a pouring spout) and then pour into the prepared crust. Bake (still at 350°F) until the curd is set (it should jiggle but not slosh), about 10 minutes.
- Let cool at room temperature for about 1 hour, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill. You can serve this chilled or at room temperature.
Make the Italian meringue topping (totally optional)
- Add egg whites and cream of tartar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat. When the sugar mixture registers about 220°F turn on the mixer and begin beating the egg whites on medium speed. When the sugar mixture registers 240°F remove from heat and carefully pour into the mixer over the egg whites. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag (or zip top bag) and pipe onto cooled tart as desired. If you want, torch the meringue with a kitchen torch. (But since it is cooked, this is totally optional).
Tart is best on the day it is made, but keeps well, refrigerated, for up to two days.
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- CHEFMADE 9.5-Inch Round Tart Pan with Removable Loose Bottom, Non-stick Carbon Steel Quiche Pan, FDA Approved for Oven Baking (Champagne Gold)
- ThermoPro TP03A Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer Kitchen Cooking Food Candy Thermometer for Oil Deep Fry BBQ Grill Smoker Thermometer
- Cuisinart CTG-00-3MS Set of 3 Fine Mesh Stainless Steel Strainers
- Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Half Sheet (2 Pack), Silver
- Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, 4 ounce
- Frontier Cream of Tartar, 3.52 Ounce Bottle
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 312 Total Fat: 28g Saturated Fat: 203g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 18g Cholesterol: 95mg Sodium: 164mg Carbohydrates: 17g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 56g Protein: 9g