Cranberry orange curd swirled with homemade lemon curd baked into an orange shortcrust pastry.
I’m supposed to be posting cookie recipes this time of year, right? It’s days away from christmas and here I am obsessing over curds and tarts. I must be a little bit of a contrarian. But I have to say, I cannot understand why we only talk about cookies in the first three weeks of December? I love them all year!
Anyway, back to this swirly beaut. It may not be a cookie (although the crust is pretty close) but it is very seasonally made out of cranberries. And oh, such good cranberry flavor. I saw the idea for a cranberry curd tart on nyt cooking and was just mesmerized by the bright red hue.
This tart pie is a hostess’ dream – the parts can be made in advance and fully assembled the day before – she needs chillin’ time anyway. The day of, top it with some whipped cream to balance the strength of the ‘tart’, and watch your guests awe at the gorgeousness of bright summer colors in the dead of winter. This is a great dessert antidote to all the cloying sweetness we are usually served this time of year.
Cranberries: fresh or frozen. Cranberry packs usually come in bags of 340g which is exactly what we need.
Orange: I used blood oranges which have more color and are a bit more tart, complementing the cranberry nicely. You can use navel or cara cara (you’d likely use just one in that case, as they are usually twice the size as a blood orange).
Lemon curd: If you are completely against making another component, you can buy the lemon curd. If not, make mine! It keeps in the fridge for weeks or you can freeze it. Also I have a ton of other lemon curd recipes that use it. You’ll only need 1 cup of curd so make half of that recipe.
Eggs: These go in the filing, you’ll have two leftover egg whites. Make these double chocolate cookies!
Butter: I use unsalted butter but you can also use salted, just halve the amount of salt I have listed below. If you want to make this dairy free, use a vegan butter. No need to soften the butter for the cranberry curd, it’s best stirred in when it’s cold.
Sugar: You need a mix of powdered and granulated for the crust.
Both the curds can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge until you are ready to bake. They’ll last a few weeks kept in an airtight container.
The lemon curd recipe, along with loads of details, is here.
Let’s break down how to make the cranberry curd
You’ll cook the cranberries in the sugar and orange juice, and zest to break them down until they release all their juices. Then we’ll strain them out so we just have a thick, cranberry orange mixture.
Using an immersion blender will help you get much more out of the cranberries. If you don’t have one drop the mix into a food processor or blender then strain the skins out.
Then we’ll add the eggs and cook until thickened. I keep a thermometer nearby so I am sure to not go above 170 F. If you overcook it, it will likely curdle.
This is where I depart from Tannis’ recipe, instead of adding the butter in with the curd I strain the egg and fruit mixture over the butter then stir it in. It gives it a silkier, smoother texture.
Now let’s make the crust
You could make this ahead of time and wrap in plastic wrap, set in the fridge until it’s time to bake.
The crust ingredients can all be dumped into a food processor and pulsed until mixed. You can also use a stand mixer if it’s easier (but not a hand mixer, it will be quite thick for that).
The mix will look quite dry, I have 3 tablespoons of milk listed below but add a bit more if it looks overly dry and impossible to shape.
Press the crust and bake
Do your best to get the crust in an even layer up the sides and on the bottom. I start with my fingers but use a ¼ measuring cup to flatten it and pack it in.
We’ll do a parbake first, with a sheet of parchment and some pie weights (you can also use dried beans, rice or even sugar). Then bake again after docking with a fork, you want it golden all over because once the curd goes in the crust doesn’t bake much.
Baking the cranberry curd tart
Over and underbaking are going to be the biggest issues with this tart; if you’ve used an 8” round and used the full cup of lemon curd you’ll have a tall, deep tart which is wonderful, but also means you want to get the bake time right.
Visual cues help a lot here: you’re looking for a top that isn’t shiny at all, completely matte, and only jiggles in the very center. Depending on the pan you’ve used
Normally I look for any excuse to make a meringue, especially on a curd pie, but I really do think this particular dish is served best with whipped cream and some lemon zest on top (orange too if you have it!).
I make mine in the food processor: add 1 ½ cups( or 2 for a more generous amount) of heavy whipping cream to the food processor along with 1-2 teaspoons vanilla, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Pulse until thickened. If it gets too thick you can add more heavy cream and pulse just a bit more until it’s the right consistency.
You need a tart (sometimes called quiche) pan with a removable bottom. These come in all shapes and sizes, use one that’s 9 or 10” wide. Depending on how wide/deep your pan is that will change the tart’s thickness: a wider, shallow pan will yield a thinner pie overall. Smaller and deeper will yield a thicker one. Thicker, while prettier, takes longer to bake and you might end up with some cracking as I did.
Share & tag me on instagram @buttermilkbysam