Cranberry Curd Tart

Photo of a Cranberry Curd TartBird of A Different Feather
Plans for Thanksgiving are different this year. Traditional, over-the-river-and-through-the-woods (or worse, the airport) get-togethers aren’t happening this year. For the vast majority of folks, the Thanksgiving celebration will be a much smaller gathering. And, while it is disappointing that you will not be with loved ones you haven’t seen in a while, there can be a few silver linings as well.

There will only be six of us at my house for Thanksgiving this year which means that I won’t need to make the usual amounts of food to make sure all of the favorite must-haves are on the table. Let’s face it, there are certain side dishes that have to be there (mashed potatoes) but there are always some dishes that only a few people actually eat (creamed onions = bad childhood flashbacks). Not having the usual crowd leaves room to set your imagination free and try something different.

Cranberry sauce is a must-have at my holiday table but there are a number of people who don’t like cranberry sauce, either the canned or fresh version. There are also a number of people who aren’t big fans of pumpkin pie—or pie in general. So, when I saw this recipe for Cranberry Curd Tart I was intrigued and I knew I had to try it out.

True, some may argue that a tart isn’t all that different from a pie. This is sort of true, but not really. At least not to me. In my mind tarts are a totally different experience and if they were exactly the same why give them a different name in the first place? Something to ponder…

If you like a good lemon curd tart, you will enjoy this gorgeous dessert as it has a very similar citrusy tart flavor. It’s also light—which can be a good thing after all of the carbs. The color is ridiculously vibrant and eye-catching especially when placed alongside the neutral colors of turkey and stuffing. This recipe is flexible enough that you could just as easily make smaller tarts to accommodate a smaller crowd.

While it’s definitely a bummer that the usual Turkey Day celebrations are on hold this year, try to have some fun with it. Switch things up. Get dressed up if you want or wear your jammies to the table if you so choose. For that matter you don’t even have to go to the table. Don’t like turkey? Make whatever you want. And for those who don’t want to celebrate at all? Go for it! You be you.

Cranberry Curd Tart
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated November/December 2020 issue
Yields 8 servings

For the Filling
1 pound (4 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
1-1/4 cups (8-3/4 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
Pinch table salt
3 large egg yolks at room temperature
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces and softened

For the Crust
1 cup (4 ounces) almond flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) cornstarch
1/3 cup (2-1/3 ounces) sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

For the whipped cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Special equipment
9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

We strongly recommend weighing the almond flour and cornstarch for the crust. The tart crust will be firm if you serve the tart on the day that it’s made. If you prefer a more tender crust, make the tart crust (without filling it) up to two days ahead.

Make the cranberry purée
Bring the cranberries, 1-1/4 cups of sugar, water, and salt to boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Adjust the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. Cover and cook until all cranberries have burst and started to shrivel (about 10 minutes).

While the cranberries are cooking, whisk the egg yolks and cornstarch in a bowl until it is smooth. Transfer the hot cranberry mixture to a food processor. Immediately add the yolk mixture and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary (about 1 minute). Small bits of cranberry skin will still be visible.

Allow the mixture cool in the food processor bowl until a skin forms on top and the mixture registers 120 to 125º F (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).

Make the crust
While the cranberry mixture is cooling, prepare the crust.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 ºF. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a bowl until well combined. Add the melted butter and almond extract and stir with a wooden spoon until it forms a uniform dough.

Crumble two-thirds of the mixture over the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough to an even thickness in the bottom of the pan. Crumble the remaining dough and scatter it evenly around the edge of the pan. Press the crumbled dough into the sides of the pan. Press the edges to an even thickness.

Bake the crust
Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake it until the crust is golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through baking (about 20 minutes).

Assemble the pie
Add the softened butter to the cranberry puree and process until it is fully combined (about 30 seconds). Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl. Press on the solids with a rubber spatula to extract the puree.

Transfer 2 tablespoons of the cranberry purée to a medium-sized bowl, then stir in the cream and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Cover the bowl and refrigerate. Reserve for decoration.

Transfer the remaining purée to the cooked crust and smooth it to an even layer. It is fine if the crust is still warm.

Allow the tart to sit at room temperature for at least 4 hours. (If you are making the tart ahead, cover it with a large bowl and refrigerate after the first 4 hours.)

Whip the cream mixture
Whisk the cream mixture until stiff peaks form (about 1 to 3 minutes). Transfer the cream to a pastry bag fitted with a pastry tip. Pipe a decorative border around the edge of the tart.

Transfer any remaining whipped cream to a small serving bowl.

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