Orange Cranberry Tartlets

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I’m slowly getting in the mood. I cleaned out the big freezer yesterday to make room for the turkeys. Yes, the plural was intentional. I’ll be buying at least four, maybe more, depending on how many I’m able to cram in there. At this house, turkey is a perfect food for at least two reasons: 1. It’s meat, and my three cavemen won’t survive without meat. To them, life without meat is just not worth living. 2. It’s a lot of meat, so even if I’ll be birdsitting for four hours at first, basting the sucker around the clock, after those four hours are up, I won’t have to cook for at least three days. Which doesn’t mean I won’t set foot in the kitchen, of course, it just means that I’ll have a lot more time for baking what I want. Turkey in this house translates to bliss all around.

Another thing that can’t be missing at our holiday table are cranberries. I can do without the sweet potatoes and green beans, but I absolutely adore anything cranberry – from the special sweet and tart relish to accompany the bird, through cranberry breads, muffins (and martini!), to deep red cranberry color in my closet which works wonders for my complexion! But I digress; back to the kitchen, shall we?

I made these little tartlets around Thanksgiving last year, and I’ll be making them again next week. The base is Italian pasta frolla, a type of sweet and buttery shortbread dough, and the filling is just lots and lots cooked down cranberries with sugar and spices. I made the pasta frolla with regular gluten flour as well as gluten-free flour mix, and the recipe worked either way. The dough does need to be chilled before baking, but if you make the pasta frolla and the filling the night before, the recipe really comes together in a snap.

A great little holiday dessert – a perfect balance of sweet and tart, just the right size so you won’t need to share and won’t need to feel guilty for indulging either, not to mention a dessert that’s beautiful to look at. Just think about all the vitamin C lurking in the cranberries, and dig in!

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Orange Cranberry Tartlets

 Pasta Frolla:
  • 1 3/4 cup (235 g, 8 1/4 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour mix)
  • 90 g (3 oz.) powdered sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons, 113 g, 4 oz.) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
Orange Cranberry Filling:
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • juice and zest from 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
+ 1 egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon water/milk – for egg wash
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Method:
  1. Make the pasta frolla (shortbread dough): Place all the dry ingredients into the bowl of your food processor; pulse to combine. Add in the cold cubed butter and pulse couple of times, until the flour mixture resembles peas. Lastly add the lemon zest and the egg/egg yolk, and pulse until the dough forms a ball. Wrap the dough and chill it for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
  2. Make the Orange Cranberry filling: Combine all the filling ingredients in a small saucepan; and cook over low heat, stirring, until the cranberries burst open and the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. (You are essentially making a quick jam.) Let the cranberry filling cool, cover, and refrigerate until needed. The filling can be made up to 2 days in advance.
  3. Assembling the tartlets: Lightly butter eight tartlet pans with removable bottom. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pasta frolla, and cut out circles a bit bigger than your tartlet pans. Ease the circles of dough into the pans and prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Fill the tartlets with cold cranberry mixture and decorate the top with scraps of remaining dough.
  4. Chill the tartlets while you preheat the oven to 375 °F (190 °C). When the oven reaches the desired temp, place the tartlets on a big shallow baking pan, give them a coat of egg wash and bake for about 15 – 20 minutes until golden.

(makes about eight 4-inch tartlets)

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