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When my youngest son Jakey Boy was approaching his thirtieth birthday, he found a recipe for cranberry tart in the New York Times. He cut it out and brought it to me, asking what I thought of it. Now, you may not know Jakey Boy, but he is not a dessert person by any stretch of the imagination. This has nothing to do with health reasons or dietary restrictions – quite the opposite since Jakey Boy is on the skinny side. He just prefers savory foods, even more than I do. In this instance, I believe the tartness of cranberry appealed to him.
He also showed the recipe to my brother. Uncle Kal bakes way more than I do, believe it or not. And Uncle Kal said this was way too much work to make.
So what is a mother to do? Of course I couldn’t help myself, chirping, “Let me make this for your 30th birthday!”
And so it came to pass that my version of cranberry tart was produced, eaten and oooooed and ahhhhd over for Jake’s 30th-birthday-celebration-family-dinner. Everyone agreed it was wonderful. I did change the recipe a bit – I couldn’t help myself. The result? A bright magenta-colored tart bursting with flavor. Frankly, it wasn’t that hard to make. A lot of steps, but very doable as long as you plan ahead.
Nut Crust Ingredients
- 1 ¼ cups raw shelled pecans
- 1 cup rice flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 stick softened salted butter-room temperature
Cranberry Curd Ingredients
- 12 ounces frozen or fresh cranberries (thaw if they are frozen)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Juice and peel (orange part only) of 1 orange (juice = ¼ cup juice as I measured it)
- 1 stick softened butter
- 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks (large eggs)
Prepare the crust:
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
In a food processor, grind pecans (I did not toast them first) with half the rice flour until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining rice flour and salt and pulse briefly.
Cream the sugar and butter in a mixing bowl by hand 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 a little cold water. (Mine did not need more water but I used more butter than the original recipe.)
Press the dough evenly into a 9-inch pie plate or pie dish. Use half the dough for the sides and half for the bottom. Prick the crust all over with the tines of a fork and freeze the crust for 30 minutes (or several days if desired).
Bake chilled tart shell in preheated oven about 15 minutes until lightly brown. Cool.
Prepare the cranberry curd:
Put cranberries, sugar and orange juice and peel in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer without covering until cranberries have popped and softened, about 10 minutes. Turn down to barely simmering for five minutes and don’t stir. Transfer to a medium mesh sieve and press cooking liquid into a bowl. This took me about 15 minutes of pressing on the back of a spoon against the strainer, then scraping the pulp from the back of the strainer into the bowl. Over and over and over. Whisk the butter into the warm liquid.
Put eggs and egg yolks into a bowl and beat lightly. Slowly whisk a cup of warm cranberry liquid into the eggs to temper them, then combine both egg mix and the rest of the cranberry liquid and whisk together. Wipe out the original cranberry cooking pot if necessary, return liquid (about 2 cups) to the sauce pan 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 one day ahead.)
Pour cooled cranberry curd into the cooled, prebaked tart shell and smooth the top with a spatula. It’s thick so it won’t be that smooth but baking helps. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to set the curd. Cool on a rack. Store at room temperature for up to two days.
Serve with soft whipped cream and mint leaves or lemon curls.
The ratio of crust to filling is 1 to 1, half crust and half filling. I might want to make one and a half times the filling next go around….we’ll see. If I made this in a real tart pan, no way would there have been enough cranberry filling!
Personally I wouldn’t do the final baking step until the day I was going to serve the dessert so the crust doesn’t become soggy.
PS: This is gluten free!!!