Wednesday, November 16, 2011

cranberry maple tart

Oh, yes. Here we are.

When I was sixteen, my friend Jette and I hopped on a bus to New York late late the night before Thanksgiving. The ride took nearly the whole night, and we arrived in the city just as the sun was starting to come up. We sat on the sidewalk and watched the massive balloons inflate for the Macy's parade. We wandered the empty city, resting in parks with the pigeons. (I know, I know. What did our mothers say? Honestly, I don't even remember.)  It was a gray day, and we had no plan. Somehow, we got on a train and ended up at a friend's house outside of Philadelphia. I don't remember how we got the invitation, but I do remember sitting at his fancy table with his very proper family, struggling to use my knife and fork correctly. I remember being bleary with sleeplessness and thankful to be in that strange and warm place. I remember that Jette and I were proud of ourselves for stepping out of the lines, for making the holiday an adventure, and for making the holiday our very own.

Four years later, my friend Eilen and I cooked for days, and we invited every straggler we could find. My parents were there too, visiting our woodsy home in Santa Fe. My mother and I were really fighting for the first time in my life, and she kept out of the kitchen. Eilen and I rolled and chopped and baked, and we were grownups in our own kitchen. We, too, made that holiday our own.

We've had Thanksgivings with friends and Thanksgivings with family. We have cooked and been cooked for. Every year has been different. But through these years with all of those meals, we are always finding ways to make the holiday our own.

How do you do it?
Have you found traditions that make this one yours?
We have an appreciations box. We learned that one from Gould Farm. Everyone writes down the things they are thankful for, and then we read them. That's a good one.

I woke up thinking about this tart last week. I made it a few times before I found it. Joey and the girls can attest to this. (It's a hard life in the kitchen of a food writer) But then I found it.

I thought you might be interested, just in case you haven't settled on your dessert options for next week. This is easy to put together, and the maple, cranberry, and orange sing to each other in a way that brings out the best in each. 

And while we're at it, shall we take a moment for some dessert inspiration? I'll give it a go...

Pear pie. Poached quince. Damp gingerbread with pears (I can't get enough of that one). Indian pudding. Sweet cornmeal biscuits. Apple rhubarb pandowdy. Olive oil and sherry pound cake. Apple pie. Pumpkin Mexican hot chocolate. Buttermilk spice cake. Are we there? Did we find it? Let me know- we can definitely keep the list going.
But in the mean time, let's have a piece of this one to keep the hunger at bay.

Cranberry Maple Tart
serves 8 to 10, or thereabouts

For the crust:
scant 1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) all purpose flour
1 stick+1 tablespoon (4.5 ounces) cold unsalted butter (cubed) plus extra for greasing the pan
the zest and juice of 1 orange (this will be in both the crust and the filling)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg

For the filling:
3 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Lightly grease a 10-inch tart pan with butter. Combine the flour, butter, orange zest, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fit with the chopping blade. Pulse about 10 times. Add the egg and 1 tablespoon orange juice, reserving the rest of the juice for the filling. Process just until the dough comes together around the blade. If it's too crumbly, you can add another teaspoon of juice.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is a circle at least 14 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to the tart pan. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take the tart pan out of the fridge about 10 minutes before you are ready to bake. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, peeking in to gently press down any air bubbles that might rise in the crust over that time. Remove the crust from the oven, but leave the heat on.

Combine the cranberries, 1/4 cup of the maple syrup, brown sugar, and remaining orange juice (it should be about 1/4 cup) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and cook, stirring often, until the berries burst and the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. 

Meanwhile, whisk together the cream, egg yolks, vanilla, remaining 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, and salt in a mixing bowl.

Spread the cranberry mixture into the crust, then pour the cream mixture over it. Put the tart pan on top of a baking sheet and bake until the top is firm and golden, about 40 minutes.

Allow the tart to sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving. If preparing a day or two ahead (totally fine- this holds up beautifully!), store in the refrigerator, then let it come to room temperature for at least an hour before serving. This is good on it's own, but also lovely with whipped cream. I served it with orange flower whipped cream (1 cup heavy cream+1 tablespoon sugar+1 teaspoon orange flour water).


  1. always an inspiration. Thanks, Alana.

  2. This tart was wonderful! I loved the mix of the rich custard with the sweet-tart cranberries. Thank you for sharing Alana.