This post is sponsored by Diamond of California.
Sometimes simple really is the best. I’ve been fussing with a few slightly high maintenance Thanksgiving tart recipes for the last week and I kept having fail after fail. Of course, it doesn’t help that I suddenly have a high maintenance three month-old either. I’ve forgotten crusts in the oven and spaced over important steps, all because I was trying to do too many things at once (i.e. stir a pot with one hand while trying to soothe a crying baby with the other).
So from here on out, at least for the time being, I’m going to keep things simple. This mascarpone and cranberry tart with pecan shortbread crust is just the answer for any of you time-constrained folks out there. There’s three separate but simple steps, with lots of built in breaks for multitasking (or a nap— oh, how I want a nap!). And it’s a fabulous make-ahead option for your Thanksgiving dessert table.
Step 1— the pecan shortbread comes together quickly and easily with the help of a food processor. Just don’t skip out on toasting the pecans, they have such a more pronounced flavor.
Step 2— the filling is pretty much a no-bake cheesecake, made with whipped cream and mascarpone cheese. If you can’t find mascarpone, regular cream cheese will work too. After you’ve spread the filling into the baked crust, the whole thing can chill in the fridge for a few days until you’re ready to serve it.
Step 3— the cranberry topping is pretty much just a traditional cranberry sauce, flavored with apple cider, cinnamon and nutmeg. If that sounds odd to you, let me assure you that it is 100% at home on top of this tart.
The whole ensemble is pretty much perfect— rich and creamy, sweet and tart, and with a hint of earthy nuttiness. Plus you just can’t argue with simplicity. If there’s room on your Thanksgiving menu for another dessert alongside the traditional pumpkin and apple pies, this should definitely be it!
- 1¾ cup (210) all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- 1 cup (113 grams) Diamond of California Shelled Pecans or Chopped Pecans, toasted
- ¾ cup (85 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2-3 tablespoons ice cold water
- 8 oz (113 grams) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (250 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1 12-oz bag (340 grams) cranberries, fresh or frozen
- ⅔ cup (140 grams) light or dark brown sugar
- ¾ cup (180 ml) apple cider
- Zest of 1 orange
- A few grates of nutmeg
- 1 cinnamon stick
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg and pecans. Add the butter and pulse a few times until the pieces of butter are broken up. Combine the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of ice water and add to the food processor while it is running. Pulse until the mixture starts to come together (the processor will make a loud sound).
- Press the mixture into a large greased tart pan (see Notes). Chill in freezer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line chilled crust with greased foil and fill with pie weights or dried rice or beans. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove weights and foil and bake until barely golden brown, about 20 minutes more. Let cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer beat the mascarpone cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Transfer mixture to another bowl and clean mixer bowl (or use a new mixer bowl).
- Beat heavy cream to soft peaks with wire whisk attachment. With mixer on low, slowly spoon mascarpone cream mixture until incorporated and smooth. Spread into cooled crust.
- In a medium saucepan combine cranberries, brown sugar, apple cider, orange zest. nutmeg and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst and sauce is thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely.
I used an 11-inch round tart pan. You may also use an 8 or 9-inch pan, though you will have some leftover crust dough and the filling will be thicker.
This tart can be made ahead. The baked crust can be stored at room temperature for 1-2 days. The filled crust can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days. The cranberry topping can be stored separately for up to 5 days. Spoon onto tart just before serving.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Diamond of California as part of a long-term culinary ambassadorship. Thank you for supporting partnerships with brands I love and believe in, which make Completely Delicious possible. All opinions are always 100% my own.
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