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cranberry-almond-cinnamon tart

December 24, 2010
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Hey, look! I made it to my Thanksgiving recipes, and it’s not even Christmas Eve yet! I am PSYCHED.

So I was on pie duty this year, because if there’s one thing my mom *doesn’t* like to make, it’s needlessly-complicated things like pie crust.

Wait, did somebody say needlessly-complicated? I am THERE! (Sorry for all the yelling. I blame it on Christmas excitement and the fact that 75% of my food intake today consisted of cookie dough and hot chocolate. Ah, life as a grown-up.)

But wait, pie dough alone wasn’t complicated enough. I mean, all it takes is a whir in the food processor and a rest in the fridge, right?

So I turned to the queen of making things complicated so that I could have an even better excuse to be annoying in the kitchen during the most stressful kitchen-time of the year for my mom: Martha Stewart.

Oh, Martha. I knew I could count on you to give me a 12-step recipe to keep me busy.

As pies go, this one wasn’t half-bad. I mean, my mom refused to let me make cake for Thanksgiving dessert, but this was a pretty good runner-up.

Next time, though, I think I might follow another recipe for frangipane. I think I’ve seen ones that use almond paste, rather than ground almonds, which might result in a smoother frangipane so I can pay more attention to the almond taste than the almond texture. As this one is, it’s pretty nutty. (I know, right? Weird for a recipe involving 1 1/4 cups of nuts.)

All in all, though, it was yummy. The crust was more shortbread-y than the Cook’s Illustrated version I tried—probably from the added egg—which made me happy, and I usually like even plain pie crust. Because, you know, the fruit filling usually gets too close to resembling something healthy for me. Bleh.

Plus, I got to feel like an uber-New Englander-do-it-yourself-er by making (super-easy) cranberry preserves because I didn’t feel like shelling out the big bucks for Stonewall Kitchen! (Apparently, despite the fact that it seems like half of Cape Cod is covered in cranberry bogs, normal grocery stores don’t feel the need to carry their preserves. Although it might be because they’re so damn easy to make.) Win-win.

Cranberry-Almond-Cinnamon Tart
1 1/2 cups (5 1/4 oz.) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
8 oz. cranberry jam or preserves [OR 6 oz. fresh cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup water, combined in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirred to dissolve the sugar, and cooked until the cranberries are softened, about 3 minutes, then removed from the heat and cooled completely]
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 oz. (about 1 1/4 cups) whole almonds, finely ground in a food processor
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons ice water

1. For the crust, pulse flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds.
2. Lightly beat yolk with ice water. With processor running, add yolk mixture in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube and process until dough just holds together (no longer than 30 seconds).
3. Turn out onto a work surface and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
4. For the tart, put fresh cranberries, 1/3 cup sugar, and the water into a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring to dissolve sugar, until cranberries have just softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
5. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch circle, 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to an 8-by-2-inch springform pan, pressing crust into bottom and up sides. Trim excess flush with rim. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prick tart crust all over with a fork. Cut a 12-inch round of parchment and place on top of chilled crust. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove weights and parchment and brush crust lightly with egg white. Return to oven and bake until pale golden, 15-20 minutes. [The sides of the crust will probably shrink down, big time, but never fear—mine still managed to hold all the filling. You can exhale again now.] Refrigerate remaining egg white. Let crust cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.
7. Keep oven on. Spread preserves over bottom of tart crust.
8. Beat butter and remaining 1/2 cup sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to medium. Slowly add ground almonds, cinnamon, and salt, and beat until just combined. Spread mixture over preserve-covered crust.
9. Bake tart until filling is set and has darkened slightly, 35 to 45 minutes. (If top darkens too quickly, cover loosely with foil.) Remove tart from oven, brush top with egg white, and sprinkle with sugar. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and top with candied cranberries. Serve warm. [Or room temperature the next day.]

Source: Martha Stewart, with slight changes via The Ulterior Epicure

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