Cranberry Brown Sugar Tart
Cranberry Brown Sugar Tart

Ok, there's no time for beating around the bush, I'm just going to come right out and say it:  I know Thanksgiving is merely days away and you most likely have your menu all set but I think you are going to want to include this stupendous Cranberry Brown Sugar Tart on your holiday dessert table. Don't hate me! It's just that I tested this out over the weekend and the three of us basically ate it for dinner Friday night and finished it up Saturday morning and that wild, decadent sort of behavior NEVER happens around here, well maybe once in a while, but still... it's that kind of wonderful. As in drop-whatever-you're-doing-and-make-this-kind-of-good and there's not even any chocolate involved. So... unless you're rigidly attached to your turkey day menu and any change will be viewed as the beginnings of WWIII, you need to be making this tart. If anyone gives you a fuss, just blame it on me. And then give them a bite and no one will remember what they were fighting about in the first place. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Part of what we all loved so much about this (and by the way I am totally making another one of these for my extended crew for Thursday) is the buttery, slightly chewy tart shell and fortunately, it's really easy to make and very forgiving--actually a lot easier than pie crust, because even though you do still have to roll it out, you can fix any rips or tears once it's in the tart pan without anyone but you being the wiser and there's no crimping involved.

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Then there's the wonderful and easy cranberry syrup which comes together in just minutes and helps to balance out the tartness of the cranberries. Plus, there will be leftover cranberry syrup and it would be amazing over ice cream or yogurt. Who doesn't love a multi-tasking dessert?!!

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Holding everything together is a brown sugar custard filling, which when baked, gets kind of chewy like the filling of pecan pie, but is less sweet and nut-free. And so lusciously delish too!!

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It's so colorful and seasonal with a welcoming rustic, homey sort of look, the kind you'd see in a French country bake shop, but happily is right in your very own kitchen!

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To make it even prettier, you can finish it off with a dusting of confectioners' sugar.

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It's just so darn good! Every bite has that buttery chewy crust combined with tart berries and sweet filling and is light and almost refreshing. Not too heavy which I'm thinking would be perfect for after the big meal. And speaking of that, I'm going to cut the talking short and let us both get to work since I've definitely added to the general insanity and probably upset all your careful organization, but I promise you it's so worth it. Now it's off to the store for another bag of cranberries...ah, the joys of the holidays!!

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Cranberry Brown Sugar Tart

Makes one 8 or 9-inch tart
Prep Time for Tart Dough:  10 minutes, plus at least one hour chilling and up to one day; Bake Time for Tart Dough:  About 35 minutes; Prep Time for Cranberries:  10 minutes, plus time to cool to room temperature; Prep Time for Filling:  5 minutes; Bake Time for Tart:  20 minutes (may be longer if you use an 8-inch pan)


For the Tart Dough

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

For the Cranberries

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries (about 10 ounces) no need to thaw if frozen

For the Filling

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Confectioners' sugar for dusting finished pie

The Recipe

1.  To make the tart dough:  Use an electric mixer to beat together the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy for about 3 minutes. Add in the yolk, vanilla and salt, scraping down the side of the bowl and beating at low speed until combined and smooth. Slowly add in the flour and beat at low speed, scraping the bowl down as needed, until the dough just forms a ball. Gather the dough together, flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

2.  Preheat oven to 350ºF. if you've let the dough chill longer than an hour, you may need to let it sit out for a while to soften up so that you can roll it out. When it's soft enough to handle, place it on a piece of parchment, cover with another piece and use a rolling pin to roll out to a 12-inch round. Carefully peel off the top parchment and transfer the dough into an 8 or 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough down into the pan carefully. If it tears, no worries, just use some of the overhang to fix it. Then trim the overhang so that the dough is flush with the rim. Prick the bottom with the tines of a fork and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. 

3.  Line the tart with aluminum foil and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 30 minutes or until the rim begins to be slightly golden. Remove the foil and weights and bake for about 5 minutes or so until the tart is golden all over. Place the shell on a rimmed baking sheet and turn oven up to 375ºF.

4.  While the tart is baking, make the cranberry syrup:  Place the 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and water in a medium pot and mix together well over moderately high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add in the cranberries and cover the pot, letting it cook for about 3 minutes, stirring every so often, until a thick syrup forms. Remove the pan from the heat and let the cranberries come to room temperature. Drain the cranberries in a sieve over a bowl. Reserve the cranberry syrup.

5.  To make the filling: whisk the eggs with the brown sugar and flour in a medium bowl. Add the half-and-half and vanilla and whisk to combine. 

6.  Place the cranberries on the tart shell, spreading them put evenly. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the cranberry syrup over the berries--you will likely have some leftover--it's great over ice cream, yogurt, cheesecake--you name it. Pour the brown sugar/egg mixture over the berries and syrup. 

7.  Bake the tart in the lower third of the oven for about 20 minutes if you've used a 9-inch pan, closer to about 27-28 minutes for an 8-inch tart. Tart is done when a thin knife inserted into the center of the pan, comes out clean. Transfer the tart to a wire rack and let cool completely. Dust the top with confectioners' sugar if desired, cut into wedges and serve. You can definitely make this one day ahead and store at room temperature.


Note:  Recipe adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, November 2012, originally based on David Tanis recipe. I subbed in vanilla extract for the almond.


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