Last updated on December 13th, 2014
I love the components of this unusual French tart. I love the cloud of sweet meringue that caresses my lips. I love the ruby cranberries that burst beneath my teeth. I love the tender crunch of the pastry base. Ready for a new taste-sensation? Let’s make this Cranberry Crackle Tart!
A note about the pastry base: I used all-butter Pate Brisee Sucree (recipe here). In a pinch, I suppose you could use a ready-made pie crust. But I hope you won’t.
A note about cranberries. I had to drive several miles to acquire these. Why? Because, although we’re deep into October, my lousy local supermarket didn’t have them. This is the same supermarket that tried to tell me chicken stock (yes, chicken stock!) is a seasonal item. Because they had run out of it.
If you have frozen cranberries on hand, you can certainly use them. Do not thaw them first.
Using a sharp knife, trim off the top section of crust, about 1/3 down from the rim of the pan.The idea is to create a “plate” for the tart, rather than a pie crust-shaped container. In other words, we don’t want a crust with high sides.
Obviously, someone around here needs to polish the silver.
Meanwhile, center the oven rack, and preheat the oven to 425°F.
Bake the crust for 20 minutes. The carefully remove the foil and beans, and bake for 8-10 minutes more. The rim of the crust should color slightly, and the flat bottom should feel dry to the touch. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
And for heaven’s sake don’t worry that your crust looks a fright. No one will see it once the blanket of meringue is in place.
Oh. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Don’t be like me.
Lick the spatula.
Bake until the meringue firms and just starts to color — about 1 hour. Let cool briefly on a wire rack. And please note that my meringue exhibits not a trace of “crackle.” This will be fixed in just a moment.
How to serve this tart? Well, you can certainly serve it direct from the pie plate. For a nicer presentation, you’ll need to summon your courage, and transfer the tart onto a serving platter. To do, this, first run a plastic knife all around the crust’s edge. Then slip the knife underneath the pastry to loosen it.
And what happened to the rest of the tart?
I haven’t a clue.
Here’s a copy-and-paste version of the above:
Cranberry Crackle Tart
Inspired by a recipe from Dorie Greenspan
Ingredients for 4 big servings
For the crust:
1 recipe Pate Brissee Sucree (recipe here). Or, in a pinch, you can use a ready-made crust.
For the filling:
3 generous tablespoons jam or preserves (strawberry, cherry, plum, raspberry, etc.)
2 egg whites at room temperature
Big pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1 1/2 cups (5.2 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries (if frozen, do not thaw first)
Butter a standard 9-inch pie plate. On a lightly-floured surface, roll the pastry to 10 inches in diameter. Set the pastry into the pie plate. Using a sharp knife, trim off the top section of crust, about 1/3 down from the rim of the pan. Dock the bottom of the dough, cover with aluminum foil (shiny side down), and tuck the foil into the contours of the crust. Fill with beans or pie weights. Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, center the oven rack, and preheat the oven to 425°F.
Bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and beans or weights, and bake for 8-10 minutes more. The rim of the crust should barely color, and the flat bottom should feel dry to the touch. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Spoon the preserves onto the crust, then spread them out, with an offset spatula, all along the crust’s flat bottom.
In the work bowl of a standing mixer outfitted with the whipping attachment, or in a medium bowl if you are using handheld electric beaters, add the egg whites, the salt, and the cream of tartar. Beat at medium speed until foamy. Then, with mixer running, slowly and steadily add the sugar. Beat until droopy peaks form — about 4 minutes.
Pour the cranberries into the bowl, and, using a spatula, fold them into the whites. Fold gently, deflating the whites as little as possible. Scoop the cranberry mixture onto the pastry crust, spreading it out with a spatula. The white meringue should extend all the way to the rim of the pastry.
Bake until the meringue firms and barely colors — about 1 hour. Cool briefly on a wire rack.
You can serve the tart directly from the pie plate. But for a nicer presentation, proceed as follows:
Run a plastic knife around the edge of the pastry. Then insert the knife under the pastry to loosen it. Tilt the pan, then give it a firm shake until the whole tart shifts in one direction. Slip a wide, flat, plastic spatula underneath, and slide the tart onto a serving plate or platter.
Serve warm or cold. I don’t think the tart requires any accompaniment beyond Champagne. You, however, might like to embellish each slice with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Think you might try this delicious,delightful, de-lovely dessert? Then by all means leave me a comment. Your words mean the world to me.
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