Ben the Baker

Just a guy trying to get his kids to eat

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Cranberry-Walnut Tarts

Posted by osakaben41 on October 17, 2009

c-w tart

This month the majority of my baking energies have been poured into the October Daring Baker’s Challenge, the results of which are not to be published until the 27th.  Considering that as well as a general lack of sleep from trying to sleep train my 18-month-old son, I just haven’t had the energy for a serious project in awhile. 

That said, if a week goes by without something sweet and new coming out of our kitchen, my hands start to shake and I get fidgety.  To scratch this persistent itch I’ve resorted to the quick, small experiments, leaving the multilayered entremet cakes for when I’m not quite so drowsy (has anybody else ever fallen asleep standing up in the shower?)   The other night I ripped out some quick Madelines, which felt good just to get back in the groove.  To that end, I came across in our freezer some left over Citrus Tart dough from the Pear-Flan Tart a few weeks back. 

C-w tart2

And what goes better with Orange flavored crust in October than Cranberries and Walnuts?  It’s back to that old workhorse, Charlie Trotter’s Desserts, and his Cranberry-Walnut Tart recipe.  This looked so straightforward and easy it was one of the first recipes I came across that got me thinking I could actually make this stuff.  He calls for a standard Pate Sucre crust, but would probably forgive me for going with Johnny Iuzzini’s instead (recipe below)

[As a side note regarding recipes, I try not to reprint in full recipes that I’ve used from books I’ve paid good money for.  If I find one printed online I’ll link to it, and in the rare instance where it’s been altered enough, I’ll write up what I did.  That said, recipes for just about everything you’ll find here can be found on either or through a Google search.  The recipe reprinted below was offered free online from Johnny Iuzzuni’s website, so I’m not losing sleep by putting it up here as well.]

The filling was fantastically easy.  Some brown sugar, white sugar and corn syrup, mixed together with some browned butter to give it a nutty aftertaste.  Add in some vanilla and salt along with one egg and an egg yolk for body, and mix it all up to a nice aromatic sludge.  Toast some walnuts, throw in some dried cranberries, then fill the tart shells with the nuts, topped with the sugary syrup, bake at 350 until done.

C-w tart3

Charlie (can I call you Charlie?  Are we there yet?) pairs this with a Cranberry ice cream, and two different sauces, cranberry and lime-caramel.  It would have been ok to just eat the tarts alone, maybe with a little whipped cream on top, but I’d never had Cranberry ice cream before, and could always use an excuse to practice making quenelles.  So what if it’s threatening to snow in October.  That said, I could live without the two sauces this time though I’m sure they would really tie it all together.  Perhaps they’d be necessary if we were having a more formal dinner party, but these were just going to be swallowed in two bites by my family, after the typical dinner battles, whining dog, and general cacophony of our weekday routine.  There’s refined, and then there’s fooling yourself.

Citrus Tart Dough

1100 grams all purpose flour
300 grams sugar
5 grams salt
700 grams unsalted butter
10 large egg yolks
50 milliliters water
1/4 teaspoon orange
1/4 teaspoon lemon oil
In a bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, salt and butter together. Mix until butter is in pea size pieces. Combine yolks, water, and oils and add to bowl. Mix until dough just comes together. Be careful not to over mix. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours or overnight. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness.  Chill. Cut out circles to fit desired tart rings and mold the tarts. Chill. Preheat oven to 325°F. Dock, or mark holes in the bottom of the tarts using a fork and fill with pie weights. Bake until golden brown. Allow to cool. Egg wash the inside of the shell and flash back in the oven for 2 minutes to seal it.

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