If you, by chance, bought a couple of pints of fresh cranberries too many, or your market still has a stash, this tart is quite simple, and a lovely way to liven up Thanksgiving Day leftovers. Apart from warming some cognac with star anise in which to soak a handful of raisins, all of the ingredients are tossed in a bowl and spooned into a simple and buttery press-in shortbread crust made with ground almonds and whole wheat pastry flour, no blind baking required. It bakes up beautifully, jewel-like, with sharp, sweet, smoky, and tart notes. And it’s kind of a perfect foil for the creamy richness of all that gravy-laden turkey, stuffing, and potatoes. If you like, gild the lily with whipped cream–plain, spiced, or spiked.
Cranberry Tart with Cognac-soaked Raisins, Tangerine Zest, and Dark Chocolate
based on my friend Michele Byfield Angell’s Classic Cranberry and Walnut Tarte
Yield: one nine-inch tart
1 recipe whole wheat almond shortbread crust (below)
3 T. cognac
1 star anise
1 ½ c. large raisins (I like Thompson or flame.)
2 c. fresh cranberries
the finely grated zest of 2 tangerines
½ c. good quality bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
1/3 c. dark brown sugar
¼ c. sugar
¼ t. salt
1 t. vanilla extract
unsalted butter to dot the top of the tart, about 2 T.
- Prepare the shortbread crust and press half of it into a 9-inch tart pan. Chill it in the refrigerator while you make the tart filling.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a small saucepan (or in a small bowl in the microwave), warm the cognac with the star anise. Add the raisins and stir them to coat. Allow them to soak up the cognac while you prepare the rest of the tart filling, giving them a stir now and then.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cranberries, tangerine zest, chocolate, brown sugar, sugar, salt, and vanilla.
- When the raisins have absorbed nearly all the cognac, remove the star anise and stir them into the cranberry mixture.
- Pour the filling into the shortbread crust and distribute it evenly. Dot the top of the tart with little cubes or very thin slices of cold butter.
- Place the tart pan onto a baking sheet (to catch anything that might bubble over) and bake it for 10 minutes.
- Reduce your oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake it until the shortbread crust is golden brown and the cranberry filling is bubbling, about an additional 30 minutes.
- This tart is nice served with whipped cream—plain, spiced, or spiked.
Whole Wheat Almond Shortbread Crust
Yield: enough for two 9-inch tarts, or one tart and a small batch of cookies
1 c. unsalted butter, softened a bit but still cool
½ c. sugar
½ t. almond extract
1 c. all purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur.)
½ c. whole wheat pastry flour (or substitute all purpose flour if you don’t have it)
½ c. almond flour (or almonds ground finely in a food processor to equal ½ c.)
a pinch of salt
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until it is smooth.
- Add the sugar and almond extract and beat to combine. Scrape down the bowl of your mixer.
- Add the flours and salt and mix only until incorporated. Do not overmix or your crust will become tough.
- Scrape down the mixer and gather the dough. Divide the dough in half. It’s enough for two 9-inch tart shells or one shell and a small batch of cookies.
- Press half the dough into the tart pan with your fingers, working it into the corners and up the side of the pan. Trim off any excess dough at the top of the pan with a sharp knife.
- To bake the dough into cookies, heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out half the dough to about ¼” thick and cut out shapes with a knife or cookie cutters. Transfer them gently to a baking sheet and bake them until they are pale golden brown at the edges, about 10 to 15 minutes.