Cranberry Curd Tart and Very Belated Holiday Party Recap

Now that President's Day is almost upon us, I have to finish blogging about our holiday party! My part of the menu (my husband handles most of the savory items) focused mostly on baked goods. In contrast to prior years, I avoided almost anything that was chilled and frozen -- for no reason other than I was out of fridge and freezer space. The sole exception was a batch of salted caramel ice cream, which I doled out in tiny scoops. It was so successful that I think I'll start offering multiple flavors of ice cream at the party -- perhaps with sauces and crunchy toppings.

I always try to have a few gluten-free items on the menu, so this year one of them was a Cranberry Curd Tart from The New York Times with a crust made from ground hazelnuts and rice flour. I made the curd a day ahead. First, I cooked cranberries with sugar, orange juice, and orange zest until the cranberries were soft. Using a suggestion from some of the online comments to the recipe, I used an immersion blender to blitz the mixture until it was smooth before I put it though a sieve; some bakers had commented that it was otherwise very difficult to get the mixer through the sieve and others complained about the faint color of the curd. Then I added butter, followed by tempered eggs and egg yolks, cooked the curd until thickened, and put it in the fridge to chill.

Before I made the curd, I had to pick over my cranberries and I had tossed out quite a few -- enough that I was afraid that I might not have enough curd. So instead of making 10-inch tarts, I decided to make 9-inch tarts (I had doubled the recipe and was planning to make two tarts). To make the crust, I creamed butter with sugar, and added a mixture of toasted hazelnuts, rice flour, and salt that I had ground in the food processor. I pressed the mixture into the bottom of two 9-inch fluted tart pans and had so much left over that I was able to make five additional 4-inch crusts. I docked the crusts and froze them before baking. After the crusts were cool, I poured in the chilled curd and baked the tarts until the curd was set. I had enough curd to fill two 9-inch tarts and two 4-inch tarts.
This tart was really lovely. Although it had a bright red color and cranberries were the main ingredient in the curd, the cranberry flavor was surprisingly subtle. The orange flavor was more prominent and several people asked me what was in the tart because they couldn't tell. The hazelnut crust was extremely sweet but I really liked it -- I have to admit that I snacked on the extra tart crusts and ate them like cookies. And I think that the sweet crust is a very nice pairing with the curd. I stored the tarts at room temperature as directed and didn't have any problems with the crust becoming soggy. My only complaint about the tart is that the curd wasn't actually attached to the crust. While everything looks cohesive in the photo above, you could easily just lift the curd right off from the crust. But this didn't affect the taste, so it didn't bother me too much. I would definitely make this tart again, although I might cut down on the orange juice and zest a little to try and let the cranberry shine through a bit more.

My personal favorite item from the party was the pretzel linzer cookies. I also loved the whiteout cake, the orange and star anise shortbread, the pecan blondies, the honey, macadamia and coconut caramels, and the homemade Biscoff. The Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookies, Baked sweet and salty brownies, and squash on toast remain perennial favorites with our guests at the party, and this year the hot cheese olives, pecan pie truffles, stuffed dates, and tomato soup with grilled cheese were also big hits. The complete list of recipes from the holiday party menu is below.

Recipe: "Cranberry Curd Tart" from The New York Times.

Baked Goods:
Previous Holiday Party Coverage: 2016 Holiday Party Recap; 2015 Holiday Party Recap; 2014 Holiday Party Recap; 2013 Holiday Party Recap; Holiday Spice Cake with Eggnog Buttercream (2012); Stump de Noël (2011) and 2011 Party Recap; 2009 Party Recap; 2008 Party Recap Parts I, II, and III.