I’m feeling a little left out of Thanksgiving this year. In the huge division of labor for the big day, I have no responsibility for any part of the meal. My dad will be shucking oysters. My mom will be marinading lamb (turkey-free zone here) and cooking her way through the four courses she’s managed to come up with. Family friends will be bringing dessert. But I will be racing to the airport and catching an early morning flight to North Carolina on Thanksgiving Day itself. With any luck, I’ll arrive in time to eat.I had to do something to satisfy the baking urge that possesses me before every major holiday. You know, that urge to take on an immensely complicated, finicky and tedious, show-stopping dessert, just so you can unveil it to ooo’s and aaah’s at the table? I channeled the Thanksgiving baking urge into this candied cranberry and chocolate tart, and shared it at a dinner party this weekend.
Even though I don’t care for the traditional Thanksgiving foods, having never grown up with them myself (marshmallows on sweet potatoes???), I do love the sour punch of cranberries. They appear here not in the traditional relish or jelly, but crowning a luscious dark chocolate ganache in a walnut crust. Tempered with plenty of sugar and cut by the bitterness of the chocolate, this cranberry dessert tinkled my latent Thanksgiving chimes. Maybe I can make it for my family next year.
Candied Cranberry and Chocolate Tart
Makes 1 9-inch tart
Truth be told, this dessert isn’t that finicky or labor-intensive. The most time-consuming part is the crust, but you can spread the work out over two or three days.
1 pre-baked walnut crust–see recipe below
12 oz. cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 tsp orange zest
6 oz. good quality chocolate, 60-70% cacao, finely chopped
3/4 c. heavy cream
For the cranberries: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat sugar with 1/4 c. water in medium saucepan. When sugar has dissolved, add cranberries and orange zest. Stir to combine. Pour cranberries onto greased baking sheet, and bake for 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely.
Make the ganache: Bring cream to simmer in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. When at a simmer, remove from heat and add chopped chocolate. Stir until chocolate has dissolved.
Pour into walnut crust. Let cool, then top with candied cranberries and their syrup.
1 large egg, separated
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. walnuts
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
5 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 in. cubes
Spray tart pan with removable bottom with non-stick spray. Toast walnuts in 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant. When cool, grind in a food processor until fine, but not pasty.
Beat the egg yolk and white separately. Measure out 1 tbsp of the egg white and add to egg yolk. Add vanilla and beat lightly. Combine flour, walnuts, sugar, and salt. Cut butter into flour mixture until largest pieces are the size of small peas. (Regarding cutting the fat into the flour, see my instructions for pie crust.) Add egg mixture, and mix with your fingertips until mixture is evenly moistened. Add a teaspoon or two of water if necessary.
Press mixture directly into tart pan. Freeze for at least 30 minutes. Line pan with aluminum foil, prick all over with a fork, line with pie weights (I use dried beans) and bake for 30 minutes in a 375 degree oven, until golden brown. Let cool completely on wire rack.