Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cranberry Tarts for Thanksgiving

This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada. Mmmmm Turkey, stuffing, veggies and homemade cranberry sauce...and of course dessert. I'm not overly excited for pumpkin pie, so I decided to make something that still would blend in nicely with the holiday.

Cranberry Tart with Heart cutout

My mom and aunt made tarts when my aunt was here visiting this summer and my mom talks about them quite often. They used a recipe for Cranberry Meringue Pie from the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic cookbook, but without the Meringue. Right next to that recipe is a similar recipe for Cranberry Pie, so I'm not sure why they didn't use that one instead. I'll have to ask when I'm over there on Sunday.

Cranberry Heart Tart

I cheated a wee bit and used pre-made pastry shells for the base and used extra shells to make the pastry decorations. I think it would of been easier to get the dough out of the shell when they were's way too soft and fragile trying to get it out in a less than frozen state. Just sayin'.

It's a pretty easy recipe to follow but it takes a little bit of time to wait for all the cranberries to pop and also for the final cooking part. Just a wee bit of standing around.

I doubled the recipe, which made about 60 tarts. The recipe (as it's written below) says it makes 1 9" pie, so I wasn't sure what that equaled out to in tarts, so to be safe I doubled it. More to share!


After dissolving the sugar in 1.5 cups of the water, I added in the cranberries and let it cook down for a while on medium heat. A bit more than a simmer, but not a boil, so I could walk away from the stove without things burning.  I could hear the cranberries popping!

After cooking so that most of the cranberries had burst, I tempered the egg, butter, water, salt, cornstarch mixture with some of the hot cranberry mix, and then while stirring the cranberries on the stove, I slowly poured the tempered egg mix in. Please don't scramble the eggs...please don't scramble the eggs...please don't scramble the eggs...hahah, that was what I was thinking in my head. It was scary to think it all could go wrong in an instant.


At this point you let it cook until it turns clear and thickens up. I had the stove on medium-low (closer to medium) and it was taking quite a while to clear up, but it was getting less cloudy and thick. After about 20 minutes I had enough and to me it looked great..and goopy!

Cranberry filling cooking

I put the cranberry filling in the tart shells using a soup spoon. Yes, I know, I need to learn to do this more neatly...or you might be nice and think that the below picture isn't too bad, but well...this was the cleanest looking set of tarts I had :)

Cranberry Tarts filled with goodness

I added on cutouts of acorns, hearts, and baby hearts.  Wala! Off to the oven.

Cranberry Tarts with acorn cutouts

I poked little holes in the tops of the acorns to give them a more acorny look. My sis thought it was cute :)  I'm not sure how people make nice clean looking tarts that don't bubble up and over. These ones weren't overly full and they sank down quite a bit once I brought them out of the oven. Guess I'll have to google that..

Cranberry Tarts out of the oven

But messy or not, they are yummy. They are sweet and tart...and sticky! Sure, it's sad when a few tarts stick together, but there is a way to fix it...put them in your belly so no one sees them!

Cranberry Tarts
Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook - 1950 (pg 572)

Cranberry Tarts for Thanksgiving

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten

  1. Cook sugar and 3/4 cup water until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add cranberries and cook until they stop popping.
  3. Combine cornstarch, remaining water, salt, butter, and egg yolks and add a small amount of cranberries. 
  4. Mix thoroughly, add to remaining cranberries and cook until thickened and clear. 
  5. Pour into pastry shell, cover with meringue and proceed as directed.

Or in my case, pour into a bunch of tart shells.

The recipe for butter pecan tarts says to bake at 325 F for 20 - 25 minute, so that's what I did. 

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