Snowy Cranberry Almond Tart

This quasi-French, frangipane-style tart reflects not only the flavors, but the colors of the holidays. Served warm, a slice of tart with a scoop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream makes an ideal Thanksgiving dessert. The color of the red berries and snow-like dusting of powdered sugar also make it a beautiful addition to your Christmas dinner table.

Frangipane is a classic European pastry filling made with almonds, butter, eggs, and sugar which is traditionally topped with pears or apples. As the tart bakes, the filling puffs up and surrounds the fruit. Because they need to be softened and sweetened slightly, the cranberries are first candied in a sugar cook separately.  The snappy tartness of the cranberries is the perfect foil for the rich, sweet frangipane. A dusting of confectioners' sugar and a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream cap off this tart that is literally bursting with flavor.

Tart Shell 
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • 1 large egg yolk 
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • ¼ cup almond meal (or additional flour)

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and salt, scrape down the side of the bowl and beat at low speed until smooth. Gradually add the flour, beating until the dough just forms a ball. Pat the dough into a disk and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a 12-inch round. Carefully peel off the top layer of parchment paper and invert the dough onto a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Peel off the parchment paper and gently press the dough into the pan. Trim the dough flush with the rim. Patch any cracks with the dough trimmings. Lightly prick the bottom with a fork. Refrigerate the tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes, or freeze for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the tart shell with foil and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the tart shell for about 30 minutes, until the rim is lightly golden. Remove the foil and weights and bake the tart shell for about 5 minutes longer, until it is lightly golden all over. Set the tart pan on a baking sheet. Increase the oven temperature to 375°.

Cranberry Filling
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups (10- oz.) cranberries

In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar with the water and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries, cover and cook over moderate heat for 3 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove the pan from the heat and let the cranberries cool to room temperature. Drain the cranberries well; reserve the cranberry syrup.

Almond Custard
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the brown sugar and flour. Whisk in the half-and-half and the almond extract. Spread the cranberries in the tart shell. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the reserved cranberry syrup over the cranberries, and then pour in the almond custard.

Bake the filled tart in the lower third of the oven until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer the tart in the pan to a rack to cool completely, at least 2 hours. Dust the tart with confectioners’ sugar. Cut the tart into wedges and serve with whipped cream.