I marvel at Andrew’s passion for baking. And it’s at its zenith at holiday time. It doesn’t necessarily mean Thanksgiving or Easter or Christmas.. It could be Valentine’s Day or the 4th of July.. But I have to say that this year’s output at Thanksgiving broke all records. There was a deep-dish Apple Pie. There was a Pecan Pie at my request which our daughter-in-law (who weighs about 4 lbs) pronounced the best pecan pie she had ever eaten. There was Pumpkin Cheesecake which, if that wasn’t enough, came with a brandied pecan sauce. And there was the most beautiful, glorious cranberry red tart on which candied cranberries filled the sides and which, when topped with whipped cream was the most exquisite tart to ever appear on our Thanksgiving Table. And I’m sharing this with you because I can’t think of a more appropriate addition of your Christmas Dessert repertoire.
By the way, take a look at our Thanksgiving tablescape. It is yet another tribute to The Bridgehampton Florist who not only provided the lush white and rust roses, but whose creativity contributed the idea of using white gourds to hold the place cards. The orange tablecloth and silver and white candle treatments brought both Thanksgiving color and sparkle to the table. Thank you, Michael and Jim, for making yet another occasion at our house so very special.
Back to the Tart. You don’t share a life with a baker without some awareness of how much craft and artistry and just plain hard work is involved in the art and science of baking. So I marvel what Andrew creates. And I am not trying to turn you off this recipe from the New York Times’ David Tanis. But there’s some elbow grease at work here. Specifically, there’s the making of the cranberry curd. I think you could count it as a day at the gym for your arms, at least. There’s a lot of pushing of the cranberries through a strainer. But the results are breathtaking. A beautifully smooth filling with a hint of orange. The original recipe suggests breaking the cooking process on this one into a couple of sessions. Preparing the crust and the curd a day, or even two, in advance. And they completing the process on day two or three. And if need be, the tart will keep very well for a couple of days at least. So you could do this one well in advance of serving at Christmas Eve or Day. Finally, the crust which is the invention of David Lebovitz, the Paris food writer, is GLUTEN FREE. It’s wheat free using rice flour and hazelnuts—a cookie recipe being its genesis. So bake away and Christmas may very well have a new tradition at your table.
Cranberry Curd Tart
This glorious tart is perfect for the holidays. It is equally at home at Christmas as it is at Thanksgiving.
- For the hazelnut crust:
- 1 ¼ cups/180 grams raw hazelnuts
- 1 cup/125 grams rice flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup/112 grams sugar
- 6 tablespoons/100 grams softened butter, more as necessary
- For the cranberry curd:
- 12 ounces/340 grams cranberries
- 1 cup/225 grams sugar
- Juice and peel (orange part only) of 1 orange
- 4 ounces/113 grams softened butter (1 stick)
- 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- Step 1 Make the crust: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Put hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until skins darken and crack. Put roasted nuts in a clean towel and rub off skins. Discard skins and let nuts cool.
- Step 2 In a food processor, grind nuts with half the rice flour until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining rice flour and salt and pulse briefly.
- Step 3 Cream sugar and butter in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon for a minute or two until pale and thick. Add nut mixture and combine until dough comes together. If it seems crumbly, add 1 to 2 tablespoons softened butter or a little cold water.
- Step 4 Press dough evenly into a 10-inch French tart pan
- Step 5 Use half the dough for the sides and half for the bottom. Prick bottom with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes (or several days if desired).
- Step 6 Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake chilled tart shell about 15 minutes until lightly brown. Cool.
- Step 7 Make the cranberry curd: Put cranberries, sugar and orange juice and peel in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until cranberries have popped and softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food mill or medium mesh sieve and press cooking liquid into a bowl. Whisk the butter into the warm liquid.
- Step 8 Put eggs and egg yolks into a bowl and beat lightly. Slowly whisk a cup of warm cranberry liquid into the eggs to temper, then combine both and whisk together. Wipe out pot if necessary, return liquid to pot and cook over low heat until nearly bubbling and thickened, about 10 minutes. If using immediately, let cool to room temperature. If working ahead, cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap (press wrap against curd) and refrigerate. (Curd may be cooked up to 1 day ahead.)
- Step 9 Pour cooled cranberry curd into the cooled prebaked tart shell and smooth top with a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to set curd. Cool on a rack. Store at room temperature for up to 2 days.