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Cranberry Nut Tarts Tested Recipe

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Cranberry Nut Tarts Recipe

I love the elegance of these individual Cranberry Nut Tarts. I also love their pretty fluted pastry shells and the ruby red cranberries and nuts (almonds and walnuts) glistening in a creamy smooth caramel. I know that making individual tarts is a little more work then making one large tart, but the rewards are great. They look fabulous, you get more delicious pastry than from a single slice, and you do not have to share. I found and adapted this recipe from Maury Rubin's beautiful book "Book of Tarts'  where one tart recipe looks as good as the next.


Now, there are many types of pastry crusts but Maury Rubin suggests that we use a Sweet Pastry Crust which has a buttery rich flavor and crisp, yet tender, texture which goes perfectly with the sweet filling. We do need to partially bake the tarts shells which ensures that the crusts stay firm even after the baked tarts have been stored for a few days. Maury Rubin also gives us a handy trick so we do not have to line and fill the tart shells with beans for pre-baking. That is, he tells us to simply place the unbaked tart shells in the freezer, not the refrigerator, for half an hour and this will prevent the shells from puffing up during baking. A great little trick. 

The hard part of this recipe is the caramel. To ensure success use a large deep skillet as there will be some splattering when you add the cream to the melted sugar. And don't worry if some pieces of hard caramel form when you add the cream. This is normal so just whisk and cook the caramel until these pieces have melted back into the cream. If you find some hard pieces do not completely melt then simply strain the caramel to remove any lumps.

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Sweet Pastry Crust:  In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour and salt. Place the butter in your electric mixer and beat until softened. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated. Don't over mix or the butter will separate and lighten in color. Add flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Don't overwork or the baked pastry will be tough. Flatten dough into disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.

Have ready 8 - 4 inch (10 cm) tart pans. Divide the pastry into 8 pieces and then, on a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of pastry to fit the tart pans. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). To make sure it is the right size, take your tart pan, flip it over, and place it on the rolled out pastry. The pastry should be about an inch larger than pan.

When the pastry is rolled to the desired size, place on top of the tart pan. Never pull the pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the pan). Gently lay in pan and lightly press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Roll your rolling pin over the top of the pan to get rid of excess pastry. Cover and freeze for about 30 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Place the 8 unbaked tart shells on a baking sheet and bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until the crust is dry and a light golden brown. If the bottoms of the pastry shells puff up during baking, just lightly press the pastry back into shape. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Caramel: Place the cream and butter into a medium saucepan and warm over low heat

Meanwhile, spread the sugar evenly onto the bottom of a 10 inch (25 cm) deep nonstick skillet. Place over medium heat and heat until the sugar has completely melted and turned a nutty brown color (about 10 minutes). As the sugar melts it will first turn light brown, then gold, and finally to a dark nutty brown. At this point slowly whisk in the warm cream and butter mixture. Be careful as the cream will splatter. Continue to cook the caramel until any large pieces of hard caramel have melted. Strain the caramel into a heatproof bowl and allow to cool for about 15 - 25 minutes. Then, stir in the cranberries and nuts until all are covered with caramel. Divide this mixture evenly amongst the eight partially baked tart shells, mounding the mixture in the center.

Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the cranberries have puckered and the caramel is bubbling around the edges of the tarts. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Remove tarts from pan and serve warm or at room temperature.

These can be made a day or two before serving. Just cover and place in the refrigerator but bring the tarts to room temperature before serving.

Makes 8 - 4 inch (10 cm) tarts.

Adapted From:

Rubin, Maury. 'Book of Tarts'. William Morrow and Company, Inc. New York: 1995.

Sweet Pastry Crust:

1 1/2 cups (200 grams) all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten


1 1/4 cups (300 ml) heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar


2 cups (200 grams) nuts (sliced almonds and chopped walnuts)

1 1/2 cups (150 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries


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