Recipe for an easy but stunning and festive dessert: Chocolate Cranberry Tarts are made even more stunning when topped with sugared cranberries.
I don’t want to cause any hard feelings, but can we all agree that some desserts are just more festive than others?
I mean, no one loves an oatmeal raisin cookie more than I do; but if I want to bring a festive dessert, I’ll probably leave the oatmeal raisin cookies at home. Oatmeal raisins just say “Let’s get our flannel PJs on and stay home and watch Hallmark movies in front of the fire”. And 9.7 nights out of 10, I am firmly on team Oatmeal Raisin Cookie.
But everyone once in a while you need a little festive action and these little Chocolate Cranberry Tarts… now these little sweeties say ‘festive’ to me.
They say, “I am here to celebrate whatever you are celebrating! I have my sparkly jewelry on and my dancing shoes and I’m ready for fun and festivities!” and “You will be so surprised how easy I am to make” and “You’ll also be pleased to know that most of my parts can be made ahead of time and assembled at the last minute!”
Well, it would say all that but you will most likely have popped it in your mouth right after “I am here to celebr…..”
So yes, not only are these Chocolate Cranberry Tarts festive, but they ARE easy to make AND you can make several of the parts ahead of time and assemble at the last minute.
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I used my tart pan to make a bunch of tarts and then stored them for a good 5 days. I did use dried beans as pie weights so that the dough didn’t puff up.
I also made the Cranberry Curd several days ago and stored it in the refrigerator. On a related note, is there any other word in the English language that we can substitute for ‘curd’? I mean, for something so tasty, it should have a much better name…something like…”sublime cranberry custard’…just saying. I actually considered calling this custard instead of curd, but upon further research realized that a custard is less fruity than a curd…so this really is a curd…sadly.
I assembled these delightfully festive treats by dolloping a bit of curd in the tart shells, baking the tarts for 10-15 minutes and then topping them with stabilized whipped cream once the Chocolate Cranberry tarts were cool. I used my 1A large piping tip for the whipped cream dollop. And as much as I dislike ‘curd’, I do enjoy ‘dollop’! What a fun word to say…’dollop, dollop, dollop!’
The stabilized whipped cream can easily be made earlier in the day or the day before and stored in the fridge.
And then…I topped them with the sugared cranberries.
Oh my! Now these are tasty little treats.
While I made the sugared cranberries to garnish these tarts, I found myself snacking on them just as is. They are the original ‘sweet tart’. Prepare these easy to make sweeties earlier in the day and store them at room temperature.
Add the flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt into the bowl of food processor and pulse to mix.
Add the butter all at once and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with just a few larger pieces
Add egg and pulse until dough holds together when pinched
Divide dough into two discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 350'
Once fully chilled, take one disc out of the refrigerator and let sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes. Very lightly flour counter or silicone mat and roll dough out to slightly less than 1/4". I use my pastry mat on the bottom and my silicone mat on the top and bottom, eliminating the need for too much flour.
Cut out and fit into mini tart pan and return to refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Gather scraps together and re-chill for 20 minutes to repeat the process.
Add baking beans, rice or pie weights to each tart and bake at 350' for 10-15 minutes.
Let cool on wire racks. Once cool, store in air tight container until ready to be filled.
Place the cranberries and water in a medium-sized sauce pot over medium-high heat and stir. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until all the cranberries have popped and become mushy, about 5 minutes.
Pour the cranberries into a food mill or fine-meshed strainer set over a medium-sized mixing bowl and press the cranberry puree through using a spatula. Discard the skins.
Add the sugar, eggs and yolks, lemon juice and salt to the puree and stir thoroughly until the mixture is even.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and set the burner to medium. Stir the curd continuously, making sure to scrape the bottom and side of the pan. Cook until the curd starts to thicken, coats the back of a spoon, and registers about 150°, give or take, on an instant-read thermometer. This should take 10-12 minutes.
The curd can be made several days in advance and kept in the refrigerator until ready to be used.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes
Reduce heat to medium low, add cranberries and swirl pan for 1 minute over the heat. Don't increase heat or your cranberries will pop.
Remove from heat and using a slotted spoon place your cranberries over a rack over a cookie sheet. Let sit for 1 hour
If you are using regular granulated sugar, then run your sugar through your food processor for a minute or two to make it superfine-ish.
Gently toss the cranberries in the sugar and let sit to dry for another hour.
These cranberries will only keep for a day before they start oozing their juices, so make them right before you will be serving them.
Place cold water in small microwaveable bowl, sprinkle gelatin over it and let it sit for 5 minutes while you continue with the next step
Add heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment
Once gelatin is set, place the gelatin bowl in microwave and heat until gelatin turns to liquid, about 7-10 seconds.
Turn on mixer and let it run for about 1 minute on medium. Turn the mixer on high and very slowly pour in the melted gelatin in a thin but steady stream.
Tart shells and curds can be made days ahead, but tarts should be assembled shortly before serving.
Preheat oven to 350'
Put small dollops of curd into each tart shell
Bake for 10-15 minutes
Let cool over rack until fully cooled.
Pipe or dollop a wee bit of whipped cream
Place a sugared cranberry and a mint leaf on each tart.
They are small enough for one big bite, if you aren’t worried about being dainty. While each of these elements is delicious on its on, this is a great example of Aristotle’s wise observation that “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
I’ll be making more of these Chocolate Cranberry Tarts for my upcoming gathering this week.
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