MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY DESSERT
My mom makes the best holiday desserts. I realize this is a really partial statement, but trust me, my mom can really bake. This year we spent Thanksgiving up on the Sonoma coast, and I dutifully lugged around the Cuisinart and Kitchen Aid my mom insisted on bringing with her. To be fair, she was in charge of making desserts, and naturally we needed 8, so these hefty machines had their work cut out for them. And it was worth it - the pie crust was flakey, the meringue perfectly whipped. Waking up the morning after Thanksgiving and eating a piece of pumpkin pie with my strong coffee is one of life's small pleasures.
An essential member of the 8 dessert posse was her infamous cranberry tart, so beloved at our holiday table I just assumed she invented it. You can imagine my shock when she casually mentioned it's a "Martha" recipe. Well, Martha, I still think my mom's is better.
It's sweet as good dessert should be, but the cranberries are left whole so they pop in your mouth with you bite into them. It is the most beautiful jewel toned color - bright, shiny and festive. It's perfect in a ribbed tart shell, and makes lovely thin slices. But it's adaptable too - for parties, she often presses the crust into a cookie sheet, later cutting out small bars to be picked up with sticky fingers.
Cranberry Tart with Pecan Crust
By my Mom! (ok, fine, the filling is from"Entertaining" by Martha Stewart)
- 1/4 c. pecans
- 1 1/4 c. flour
- 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 envelope of soft gelatin
- 3 c. fresh cranberries
- 1 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. red currant jelly
Preheat your oven to 400. Start by making the crust - the filling does not need to bake! It just is poured into a pre-baked tart shell.
Combine all the tart crust ingredients in a food processor until they come together. Press the crust into a large, 12" tart pan (or cookie sheet, though you may want to double the recipe for that), rather than rolling it out. Cook for 15-20 min in your preheated oven.
Soften gelatin in 1/4 c. cold water. Meanwhile, combine cranberries, sugar and jelly in a saucepan. Cook over low head for about 10 min. You want the berries to stay plump and relatively firm, so be sure not to overcook. Cool the cranberry mixture slightly and stir in gelatin. Cool completely. Pour filling into pre-baked crush and chill. Remove from the refrigerator well before it's time to eat so the tart is room temperature when serving.