This fresh cranberry tart recipe is a sweet and tart dessert you can make all winter long. Made with a French pastry crust and cranberry curd filling, this tart has both incredible flavor and a gorgeous appearance.
Cranberry Tart Crust
Whether you’re looking for a holiday dessert or the holiday has passed and you’re wanting to use up those leftover fresh cranberries, this cranberry curd tart will fit the bill.
The base of the cranberry tart consists of a pate sucrée crust, which is essentially a sweet and buttery pastry crust.
I have a foolproof recipe for making this pastry crust and ensuring it doesn’t shrink on you in the oven, so don’t fret if that has been your past experience with French pastry crusts.
I do recommend using a food scale if you have one to make the pastry crust. It will be more precise and easier than measuring out the pastry ingredients, but for the sake of inclusion, I’ve listed the equivalent U.S. volumes too.
Cranberry Tart Filling
Not to be confused with a nantucket cranberry tart (or cranberry pie), this tart is made with a curd filling rather than cake batter.
A nantucket cranberry tart usually has the fresh berries intact, in the filling, with cake batter poured over them. It’s almost like a clafoutis in that way, but obviously a different texture and such.
On the other hand, this cranberry curd filling is made with cranberry juice (rendered from the fresh berries), eggs, and sugar, just like a lemon curd filling.
If you’ve made a custard before (such as crème pâtissière), then you’ll understand the concept that goes behind using eggs, tempering them, and whisking them with the other ingredients over heat to thicken.
The difference between a custard and a curd, however, is that a curd usually contains fruit juice rather than milk or cream.
This cranberry curd is not only made with the juice of fresh cranberries, but it’s also made with fresh orange juice and orange zest.
That citrus component, in addition to the tartness of the cranberries themselves, makes this fresh cranberry tart taste very much like a lemon tart.
In fact, the only thing really separating this tart from a lemon tart is its bright red hue.
The process, in regards to steps and the amount of effort, to making the cranberry curd is also very similar to making lemon curd.
If you’ve made lemon curd before, then you’ll have no problem imagining how this recipe will go and how the cranberry tart will taste.
Tart Pan: You’ll Need One
To make this cranberry tart recipe, you’ll need a tart pan. Unless you plan on serving the tart in its pan, you won’t be able to use a cake pan here.
The same thing applies to using a tart pan that doesn’t have a removable bottom. It makes it really difficult to remove the tart if the bottom doesn’t release from the sides of the pan.
While buying an extra pan may not be convenient, you can find an affordable tart pan on Amazon like I did, and you’ll use it for years to come.
I use a classic 9″ pan, so keep that in mind when you’re making this recipe. The dough can be stretched to fit a 10 or 11 inch pan if you really need it to, but just know that your crust will be a bit thinner.
Cranberry Tart Recipe
Making this easy cranberry tart is pretty straightforward, but there are some important tips you should know about before you begin.
- When you’re creating your pastry dough, be patient while you mix the ingredients to form a dough. It can be tempting to keep adding water as the ingredients will look dry and crumbly, but keep mixing and eventually you’ll get a really nice compact dough.
- Grease your tart pan well. Use softened butter or baking spray – don’t rely on something like canola oil.
- Put a little elbow grease into spreading out the pastry dough in the pan. It WILL fit the entire surface area of the inside of the pan.
- The majority of the cranberry curd filling is made up of the cranberry juice that’s rendered from the fresh berries. So spend a good five minutes really stirring and mashing those cranberries inside your sieve so that you release all the possible juice you can.
- The meringue topping on the cranberry tart is completely optional. This cranberry tart would be just as delicious with whipped cream, so if you’re not comfortable when it comes to making meringue – no worries!
Pate Sucrée Crust
- 175 grams all-purpose flour (1 1/2 cups minus 1 tbsp)
- 25 grams powdered sugar (about 4 scant tablespoons)
- 100 grams unsalted butter, cold and cubed (7 tbsp)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp cold water
Cranberry Curd Filling
- 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- zest and juice of 1 large orange
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/8 tsp salt
To make the pate sucrée crust:
- To the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl, add the flour, powdered sugar, and cubes of butter. Mix together on medium speed until you get pea-size clumps.
- Add in the egg yolk and again mix on medium speed to incorporate. As the mixer is mixing, add in the tablespoon of cold water. Be patient and let the ingredients mix until they come together to form a compact dough that's sticking to your beater and coming away from the sides of the bowl.
- Grease a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom. Use baking spray or softened butter to grease the bottoms and sides. Form a ball with your dough then place it in the greased pan.
- Use the palm of your hand to flatten out the dough in the hand, using some elbow grease to really flatten it out as best as you can. Once most of the bottom is covered in the dough, begin using your fingers to push the dough outward to the edges of the pan and up the sides. Keep working at the dough until it's lined the entire inside of the tart pan.
- Freeze the tart dough (very important!) for 30 minutes in the freezer.
To make the cranberry curd filling:
- Meanwhile, make the cranberry curd filling. Add the fresh cranberries to a large saucepan, along with the orange juice, orange zest, and granulated sugar.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir everything together. Let the cranberries cook for approximately 10 minutes, until they've all split. You'll probably hear some popping sounds throughout this time as the cranberries burst open.
- In a medium bowl, add your two whole eggs and two egg yolks. Whisk to break all the yolks apart. Temporarily set aside.
- Place a large sieve over a large clean bowl. Pour the contents of the saucepan into the sieve. Then, use a wooden spoon to stir and mash the cranberries in the sieve and release all of its juices into the bowl underneath the sieve. You'll need to work at the cranberries for a good 5 minutes to make sure you get as much of their juices as you can. Make sure to run your spoon along the exterior of the sieve too to release thicker juices that are lining the sieve. Remember, this cranberry juice makes up most of the filling so you want to get as much juice as you can out of the cranberries.
- Dump the leftover mashed berries remaining in the sieve. Now, take a few spoonfuls of the resulting cranberry liquid and add them to the bowl of eggs. Whisk the cranberry liquid into the eggs to help temper the eggs (meaning bring the temperature of the eggs up to the temperature of the cranberry liquid - otherwise you'll get scrambled eggs later!).
- Pour the cranberry-egg mixture into the entire cranberry liquid, and whisk vigorously to combine.
- Drop your butter into the saucepan you previously used. Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, poured the entire cranberry batter into the saucepan. Constantly whisk this mixture for about 5 minutes, or until the curd begins to slightly thicken and easily coats the back of a wooden spoon.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and temporarily set aside.
Blind-Bake the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prick all over the bottom of your pastry crust with a fork. Line the crust with a sheet of parchment paper, then pour pie weights or dried beans onto the sheet to weight down the crust.
- Blind-bake the pastry crust in this manner for 12 minutes. Take the pastry crust out of the oven, and remove the parchment paper and beans.
- Bake the crust for another 6 minutes, then remove from the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
Assemble and Bake the Tart
- Pour the cranberry curd into the pastry shell. Smooth it out and make sure it's evenly distributed throughout the pastry shell.
- Bake the tart for 10 minutes, then remove it from the oven.
To make the meringue topping
- To a clean mixing bowl, add the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Whisk on high speed until you get very stiff, glossy peaks. The egg whites should in no way look foamy, soft, or matte.
- Add the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a star tips and pipe out any kind of design you like on top of the cranberry tart. Depending on what you do, you may or may not have extra meringue leftover.
- Bake the meringue for at least 10 to 12 minutes or until it has browned.
- Cool the tart too room temperature and refrigerate when not enjoying.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: 1 slice
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 420