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Cranberries are the under-appreciated fruit of fall and winter.
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.
Not that there’s anything wrong with a classic apple pie. But it’s not the only way to celebrate fall and winter.
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 comes together in a few minutes on the stove, and it doesn’t even require you to set up a double boiler.
And honestly, the curd itself is worthy of licking off the spatula.
But this dessert gets even better.
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: 312Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 203gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 164mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 3gSugar: 56gProtein: 9g