Bright holiday flavor with a buttery graham crust.
When it comes to combining looks and flavor, a fresh cranberry curd tart recipe takes the cake. Here, a silky, sweet-tart homemade cranberry custard combines with buttery graham crust for a beautiful dessert.
Cranberry Curd Tart Recipe Notes
This recipe makes a deliciously tart, sweet dessert. Plus, with its stunning color, this tart has a real “wow” factor as well. Tart and bright, the silky cranberry custard gets paired with a graham cracker crust for a new essential holiday dessert.
The only arguable downside of using a graham cracker crust for this cranberry curd tart is that it will crumble and thus needs to be served in the tart pan. I see no problem with this. A standard nine-inch pie plate will be perfect, and pretty porcelain tart pans abound.
But if you want to serve a tart that stands on its own without being in a dish, try this pâte sucrée tart shell. (And make some butter cookies with the scraps while you’re at it!)
Adapting This Cranberry Tart Recipe
This holiday cranberry curd tart recipe owes its genesis to the New York Times’s cranberry curd tart recipe from David Tanis. David Tanis is a “cook’s cook.” An alum of Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse, David Tanis expertly creates elevated, seasonal home cooking that seems to elevate produce without being fussy or complicated. His cookbooks are excellent.
I adapted the NYT cranberry curd tart recipe by swapping out the crust. The original recipe calls for a hazelnut tart crust which, while no doubt delicious, is fussy and a bit time consuming to make. Instead, I use a graham cracker crust. Why?
- A graham cracker crust is practically effortless, and
- The sweet, buttery wheat flavor, with just a hint of salt, makes an outstanding complement to the tart cranberry custard.
The “rightness” of a graham cracker crust makes sense here. This is a bright, almost citrus-sweet curd with great tartness. In other words, key lime pie‘s cousin. And we all know that key lime pie loves a graham cracker crust.
How to Make This Cranberry Curd Tart: Recipe Steps
This festive tart recipe boils down (hee hee) to three steps: the crust, the cranberry sauce, and the curd.
- First, make the graham cracker crust. It is very simple. Pulse graham crackers in a food processor with the sugar and salt until finely ground. Add melted butter, stir, press the graham crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of a pie plate, and bake.
- Simmer the cranberry sauce ingredients, then strain into a gel.
- Combine the cranberry gel with eggs and butter and cook until thickened.
- Pour the custard into the graham cracker crust, and bake for 10 minutes to set.
How to Make the Cranberry Curd Custard
You can make the cranberry curd custard essentially by combining strained cranberry sauce with butter and eggs, simmering, then letting it set up for 10 minutes in the oven. Easy! But there are a few tips.
- Make sure to stir the custard a lot once it goes on the stove to finish. You do not want bits of scrambled egg. (But if that does happen, don’t worry. Just strain it through a fine mesh strainer.)
- This cranberry curd tart will keep in the refrigerator for several days, making it a perfect make-ahead holiday dessert recipe. Bring it to cool room temperature before serving for the best flavor.
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Holiday Cranberry Curd Tart
For the Graham Cracker Crust
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 9 crackers, or one sleeve)
- 5 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Cranberry Curd Custard and to Finish the Tart
- 12 ounces (1 bag) fresh cranberries, picked over
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 orange, peeled and juiced
- 4 ounces (1 stick; 8 tablespoons) butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
For the Graham Cracker Crust
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Make the graham cracker crumbs by pulsing them in a food processor with the sugar and salt until finely ground. Pour into a mixing bowl. Add the melted butter to the graham cracker crumb mixture. Stir to combine fully.
- Gently but firmly press the graham crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of a pie plate. TIP: I use a 9-inch standard tart pan. Depending on the size and depth of your tart pan or pie plate, you may not need all of the graham cracker crumbs. Get a nice, even layer, but don't make it too thick. PRO TIP: Use the bottom of a measuring cup as a flat surface when pressing the crumbs into place.
- Bake the graham crust for 15 minutes, until toasted light brown. Cool to room temperature. (Note: The tart shell can be made one or two days in advance and kept, wrapped at room temperature.)
For the Cranberry Curd and to Finish the Tart
- Lower the oven to 350°F. In a medium pot, heat the sugar, cranberries, orange juice, and orange peel. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped and softened and the mixture has become a jammy sauce, about 10 minutes.
- Discard the orange peel. Spoon the cranberry sauce into a fine mesh strainer set over a clean mixing bowl. Use a spoon to gently press and stir the liquids through the strainer. Take care not to burn yourself on the hot sauce! Discard the seeds and solids. Whisk the butter into the warm cranberry liquid/gel.
- In a separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolks together. Whisk about a third of the strained cranberry into the eggs to temper, then add the tempered eggs into the rest of the strained cranberry. Whisk to combine.
- Return the cranberry custard to the sauce pot. (Wipe clean if necessary.) Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until thickened and large, lazy bubbles form, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Immediately cool the cranberry curd to room temperature. PRO TIP: There are a couple of ways to do this. One is by putting the pot in an ice bath and stirring constantly. You can also pour the curd into a wide bowl or casserole pan and stir. It will have cooled enough when steam no longer comes off the curd.
- Pour the cooled curd into the pie shell and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake for 10 minutes to set the curd. Cool on a rack. Store at room temperature for up to 24 hours, or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring to cool room temperature to serve.TIP: Don't cover the cranberry curd tart if you refrigerate it. The custard will form condensation, which could drip water onto your smooth pink custard.