Cranberry Curd Tartlets


Finally, cranberries are back in the markets. So, I made cranberry curd, and thinking that it could be used like lemon curd in a tart, I took this opportunity to experiment more with my idea of transforming cookie dough into tart dough. I worked with the Molasses Cookies from the Lucques cookbook that are made into a plum sorbet sandwich… and these tartlets happen to share similar magenta and brown colors.

I made regular tart dough, too, to get a more balanced idea of the possible flavors and textures.

I also decided to use some of the mini-tart tins that I bought in NYC because these tartlets would be packed full of flavor and one pungent bite seemed like a more realistic eating plan than many pungent bites. The tart tins were easier to work with than I’d thought. I did unmold the shells while warm, though, so that I wouldn’t have to pinch/rip them out more; and I didn’t want to have to spray the tins themselves to make ejection easier.

Overall, just about all the flavors worked very nicely together. The curd was a bit sweeter than I wanted, but the orange slices perked it up well, the pecans brought it down to earth, the apples lent a tart crunch, and baby kiwis lent an exotic tartness.

And okay, they’re a bit gaudy, hm? But at least they’re naturally gaudy, and not gaudy like food coloring-modified desserts.

Cranberry Curd: Ah, Nigella Lawson again. It only had a moderate tartness and a kick of cranberry flavor at the end. It was too sweet and not firm enough for my liking even though it tasted of butter and a little of yolks… and I swear I cooked it long enough. Next time, I’d decrease the sugar and the water.

And it was important to pick through the cranberries; there were quite a few damaged ones.

And I got to use my mini-food mill that I got at Zabar’s for the first time. It worked like a charm. The cranberry skins got stuck in the little holes… which was good b/c the tough skins would have ruined the consistency — though they probably would have added more flavor.

Molasses Tart Dough: Lucques cookie recipe adjusted with clarified butter instead of melted shortening; normally for plum sorbet sandwiches. Since this is the first time I’m adjusting a cookie recipe to a tart dough recipe, I wanted to see what would happen if I just omitted the baking soda. Although the flavor was good and it held it’s shape better than short dough, it was predictably a bit tough/chewy. As I compare it to short dough recipes, next time I’ll try halving the sugar and doubling the butter as well as omitting the baking soda. I’ll also try mixing it like tart dough, rather than like a cookie; that is, dry ingredients first, rather than last, and butter cubed, not melted or creamed.

Classic Sweet Pastry: Flo Braker’s recipe. My favorite short dough recipe, and held up the tarts well.


Pecans, chopped. Tasted very good, and looks good, too; a bit more understated.


Pecans Halves, halved.


Valencia Oranges. I segmented the fruit, and chopped the segments into triangles.


Baby Kiwis. These have been at Trader Joe’s lately. They’re juicy and a little sweeter than normal kiwis. You can eat them whole.


Apple, thinly sliced. This actually worked really well. The ratio of apple to cranberry to crust seemed even.

To deal with the oxidation issue this time, I tossed them with the apple syrup leftover from the caramelized apple skins in the Fresh Apple Pavlova. It was a very temporary solution, though — they turned a bit translucent after a while.


Apple, cubed.


Apple, rectangularized.


Apple, cut with a small biscuit cutter.


Apple, shredded with a wavy peeler. Weird.


Ginger, chopped.

7 Responses to “Cranberry Curd Tartlets”

  1. fattypr Says:

    i don’t think they look gaudy at all! (though i admit that i do love the color red). anyway, they look quite nice. esp the chooped pecan and biscuit-cut apple ones.

  2. Nina Says:

    Thanks! 🙂 It’s weird — I want my desserts to be colorful, but then my minimalist sensibilities usually like to freak out about it.

    And I sprinkled some pomegranate seeds on top of one with some nuts, but I ate before I took a picture.  The pomegranate seeds were a good boost to the tartness.  It’s fun having pomegranates around on a regular basis. :)  I want to make fesenjan soon, esp since there are fresh walnuts around now and I have pomegranate molasses on hand.

  3. Natalie Says:

    Hi Nina! I was so excited to see some focus on cranberries! I loved looking at the tarts. I also liked your link to Nigella’s book. I think she’s great. Have you ever tried some form of Cranberry/Pear combo? My sister and I both won blue ribbons with a Cran/Pear pie at two different County Fairs, San Mateo and Stanislaus. I think walnuts were in there too. It was a fantastic fall pie.

    Thanks for all the great pics, I might have to try the curd recipe, it sounds versatile, just like lemon! (PS, my favorite pic from above was the chopped pecans version!)

  4. Amie Says:

    I really like the chopped pecan version, the orange sections (esp. the first one), and the ginger. The shapes are lovely for all of them. The color of these is fantastic, including the high-contrast kiwi slice version. Nice work.

  5. fattypr Says:

    i’ll have to tell my mom that you’re gong to make fesenjan. she’ll be happy to hear it i’m sure 🙂 and i hope to see a pic…

  6. Nina Says:

    Natalie – Thanks so much! I once had a pear upside down cake with cranberries that was very good, and I’ve been in a pie mood recently… so I may just give it a try soon! If you have any blue ribbon recipe/tips, please send them my way. 🙂

    I’ve been looking forward to cranberries again from the moment they went out of season last year, so I want to do as much as I can with them this season.

    Amie – Thank you. 🙂 I like the chopped pecan and first orange section ones a lot, too, and it’s occurred to me that they might go well altogether. So, next time I make these, I want to try putting a sliver of orange between the crust and curd and then topping it with chopped pecans — and trying the reverse arrangement. I kind of like the element of surprise in that. It may also be nice to use a mixture of the chopped pecans and chopped ginger in that, too.

    I’ve also been toying with the idea of a Cranberry Orange Curd, but I kind of like the idea of keeping every flavor with its own texture for this.

    fattypr – A pic there will be. 🙂

  7. Natalie Says:

    Nina, I just emailed you the pie recipe. It has this great Glazed Nut Topping that really cinches the great flavors and textures!

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