Brown Sugar Custard-Cranberry Tart

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Instead of sharing a recipe from our Sunday dinner tonight, I am taking this opportunity to share our dessert from last Sunday as well as some other desserts that might be welcome additions to your holiday dessert table.

This dessert is from the current issue of Food & Wine.  It is essentially a Frenchman's nod to an American tart.  The cranberries are first candied in a sugar and liquid mixture.  But rather than use water, I went for a little more flavor and used equal parts orange juice and Cognac (brandy can be used as well). The rest of the filling is a simple brown sugar custard that is poured into a pre-baked tart shell and baked until set.  I omitted the almond extract and went with a little vanilla and a touch of spice from cinnamon to compliment the orange juice and Cognac.  A dusting of confectioners' sugar and a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream cap off this tart that is literally bursting with flavor.

Other desserts you might enjoy for Thanksgiving...

Printable Recipe

Brown Sugar Custard-Cranberry Tart
serves 8-10

For the Tart Dough
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
9 Tablespoons (4 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1 extra large egg
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling 

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 Tablespoons Cognac or brandy
2 cups (10-ounces) cranberries
2 extra large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Confectioners' sugar
Lightly sweetened whipped cream

For the Tart Dough
In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, sugar, and salt.  Pulse until combined.  Scatter the butter pieces over the flour.   Process in short bursts until the butter is the size of peas.  Add the egg and vanilla and process in long pulses (about 5-7 seconds long) until the dough has started to clump.  Place a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and dump the dough onto the surface.  Using the plastic wrap and the back of your hands, gently press the dough into a disk.  Wrap tightly with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375ยบ F.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  If refrigerated overnight, let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle, flouring the dough and surface as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.  Roll up the dough around the rolling pin and gently unroll it over an 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Fit the dough into the edge of the pan.  Roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to remove the excess dough.  Place the tart onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  

Line the tart pan with aluminum foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove the weights and foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Place on a rack to cool.  Move the oven rack to the lower third of the oven and maintain oven temperature.

For the Filling
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with the orange juice and Cognac and cook over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Add the cranberries, cover and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring once or twice.  Remove the pan from the heat and let the cranberries cool to room temperature.  Drain the cranberries well; reserving the cranberry syrup.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Whisk in the half-and-half and the vanilla extract.  Spread the cranberries in the tart shell.  Drizzle one tablespoon of the reserved syrup  over the cranberries, then pour in the custard.

Bake the tart until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.  Transfer the tart in the pan to a rack to cool completely, at least 2 hours.  Dust the tart with confectioners' sugar.  cut the tart into wedges and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Food & Wine, November 2012


  1. Gorgeous! I love tart cranberries in the fall...this combo with custard sounds amazing.

  2. Beautiful! If only I could bake ;)

  3. this really is a perfect thanksgiving dessert!! yum!

  4. That looks great. It's such a unique way to use cranberries!

  5. Ah...a fellow tart lover! Beautiful tart! Will definitely be making this! Love your recipes!! Beautiful photos!


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