It’s November 29th, the Sunday after Thanksgiving. My tree is up and decorated. The outdoor lights are on. My house smells like cinnamon and pine. For the first time in my life I bought my Christmas tree before Thanksgiving and decorated it on Thanksgiving Day.
I went for a walk this evening. The glow of lights on many of the houses and glimpses of lit trees inside tell me I am not alone in my early preparations. Thanksgiving was a pale shadow of its usual self, and who knows what Christmas will bring, so I am going to decorate and bake and enjoy the lead up like never before. I need this. I need a full six weeks of Christmas preparations and anticipation.
I am starting with this: A deep chocolate ganache filled tart topped with a silky, slightly tangy, cranberry curd and decorated with glistening sugared cranberries. You can make the curd and the cranberries up to week in advance, cook the tart shell the day before if you like and assemble it in half an hour for a showstopper of a dessert!
Start with the cranberry curd.
A fruit curd is somewhat like a custard except it contains more fruit giving it a stronger flavor. In addition, butter is added which makes it smoother and silkier to the tongue.
Cranberries are cooked with sugar and water until they pop and soften. Put the mixture through a sieve to get a smooth puree.
Stir in the butter and put the puree back over a low heat on the stove top.
In a separate bowl whisk together eggs and yolks. Slowly add a little of the warm cranberry puree to the egg mixture. This is called “tempering”. The addition of the cranberry warms the egg mixture and helps stop the eggs from scrambling when added to the cranberry puree.
Add the egg and cranberry to the rest of the puree and cook it over a low heat until it thickens and is almost boiling. It should be between 165-170 on an instant read thermometer.
Remove it from the heat and pour it through a sieve to remove any egg solids.
Cool the curd to room temperature and refrigerate it until needed. This can be done up to five days in advance.
Cook the tart shell.
Mix all your ingredients together in a bowl and put the dough in a tart pan with a removeable bottom.
Press the dough evenly into the pan and bake it until it is cooked and brown.
This can also be done a day or two in advance. Cover the shell with plastic wrap or keep in an airtight container until it is needed.
Make the sugared cranberries.
You will find instructions in my previous blog post, here.
You can make these the day before. Just keep them in a cool dry place (not the refrigerator) until you need them.
Making the Ganache and Assembling the tart
At least an hour before you serve the tart, make the chocolate ganache. This is one of my favorite chocolate fillings—it’s so easy and so delicious.
Chop up chocolate.
Pour almost boiling cream over it and let it sit. Stir the now melted chocolate into the cream along with some soft butter.
Add a little liquor if you like. When it is smooth and luscious, pour it into the tart and put it in the refrigerator for an hour to let the filling set.
Once the filling is set, spread the top of the tart with cranberry curd and garnish with sugared cranberries and a sprig of rosemary.
Done and Done!
CHOCOLATE GANACHE TART WITH CRANBERRY CURD AND SUGARED BERRIES
For the Cranberry Curd
- 12 oz package fresh Cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup butter softened
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
For the Tart Crust
- 1 1/3 cup flour
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- 10 tbsp butter melted
For the Chocolate Ganache
- 6 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tbsp butter room temperature
- 1-2 tbsp Bourbon or Grand Marnier
For the Sugared Cranberries
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- ½ cup sugar
- Fresh Rosemary sprigs for garnish
Make the Cranberry Curd
- Put the cranberries, sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cranberries will pop and soften.
- Puree the cranberries with an immersion blender or in a blender. Press the mixture through a fine sieve. Stir in the butter until it is melted.
- Put the cranberry puree in a clean pot and place over low heat. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs and yolks. Slowly whisk ½ to 2/3 cups of the warm cranberry puree into the egg mixture.
- Return the egg mixture to the pot with the remainder of the cranberry puree and cook until it is thick and almost boiling, 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
- Pour the mixture through a clean sieve and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Can be made up to five days ahead.
Make the Tart Shell
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Melt the butter and stir it into the mixture.
- Place the dough in a 10” tart pan. Use your fingers to press the dough evenly in the pan making sure to push it up the sides as well.
- Bake in the center of a 350 degree oven until cooked and browned, about 30 minutes.
- Let cool completely before continuing with the recipe. The tart shell can be baked the day before.
Make the Sugar Cranberries
- Put ¼ cup of sugar into a medium saucepan along with ¼ cup of water. Heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and add the cranberries. Stir until the cranberries are well coated.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cranberries to a wire rack. Let the cranberries dry for at least one hour.
- Spread ½ cup of sugar in a low, flat, bowl or on a plate. Roll the cranberries in the sugar until they are well coated. Return them to the wire rack and dry for at least one hour.
- Cranberries can be made the day before and stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
Make the Chocolate Ganache
- Finely chop the chocolate and place it in a heat resistant bowl. Heat 1 cup of heavy cream to almost boiling and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Add 3 tablespoons soft butter and stir until smooth. Add bourbon or Grand Marnier if you are using it.
- Pour the chocolate ganache into the tart shell and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Assemble the tart
- Gently spread the cranberry curd over the chocolate ganache in the tart shell.
- Arrange the sugared cranberries and rosemary sprigs on top of the curd.
- Serve the tart at room temperature.
Note: The tart can sit at room temperature for up to eight hours but should be refrigerated if you are not serving it that day. If you do prepare it the day before remove it from the refrigerator an hour before serving. The cranberries will lose their crisp sugared shell if refrigerated so add them to the tart the day you are serving it.