With its deep garnet-red hue and shiny finish, cranberry curd is an ideal component for holiday desserts. Here it tops a silky cheesecake filling that’s made with cream cheese and crème fraiche, and the combination of the sweet cheese and tart cranberry curd strikes the perfect balance. To get the smoothest texture, it pays to pass the cranberry curd through a fine-mesh sieve not once, but twice (I know it seems like overkill, but it’s not). The first pass is to eliminate the seeds and skin, and the second one is to strain out any specks of coagulated egg product.
Makes one 9-inch tart, serving 8
- 1 ½ cups (195 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons (37 grams) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 9 tablespoons (127 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 15 minutes
- 3 tablespoons (44 grams) ice-cold water
- 8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large (19 grams) egg yolk
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) crème fraiche or sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 grams) heavy cream
Cranberry Curd Topping:
- 6 ounces (170 grams or about 1 3/4 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries (if using fresh, rinse and drain them first)
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- One 3-inch strip of orange peel (bitter white pith removed)
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- Pinch of salt
Make the crust:
- Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse few times to combine. Add the butter pieces and toss lightly to coat with flour. Blend the butter and flour with about five 1-second pulses or until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal with some of the butter pieces the size of small peas. Sprinkle the water over the flour mixture and process continuously until the dough begins to clump together. Do not over-process; the dough should not form a ball.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape it into a thick 4-inch wide disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.
- Place the unwrapped dough on a work surface that has been lightly dusted with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 12-inch circle, lifting and rotating the dough often, while dusting the work surface and dough lightly with flour as necessary. Roll the dough up on the rolling pin and unroll it over a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Roll the pin over the top of the pan to trim off the excess dough. Lightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork at 1-inch intervals. Refrigerate the dough in the pan for 20 minutes to firm up the dough.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Right before baking, line the dough with parchment paper or aluminum foil and cover with pie weights or dried beans. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully lift the paper or foil (along with the weights) out of the tart pan and bake the crust for 8 to 12 minutes longer, or until golden brown. Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack and allow to cool while you make the filling. Leave the oven on, but reduce the temperature to 350˚
Make the Cheesecake Filling:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-low speed until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and beat until well combined, about 2 minutes longer. Add the egg yolk, beating until well blended. Add the salt, lemon juice and vanilla and beat just until combined. Add the crème fraiche and heavy cream and beat until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and stir with a rubber spatula to make sure the batter doesn’t have any lumps and is well blended. Scrape the batter into the baked crust and bake the tart until it is puffed around the edges and the center is set, 20 to 25 minutes. Place the tart on a wire rack and cool while you make the cranberry curd.
Make the cranberry curd:
- Put the cranberries, sugar, orange peel and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have all popped, about 5 minutes. Remove the orange peel and pour the mixture into the jar of a blender. Process at medium-high speed for a minute or so until the mixture is smooth. While blending, add the butter cubes one at a time, blending until all the butter has been incorporated and the mixture is emulsified. Pass the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolk until blended. Whisk in about ½ cup of the cranberry mixture until blended. Whisk in the remaining cranberry mixture. If necessary, rinse out and dry the saucepan you cooked the cranberries in, then add the cranberry mixture. Place the pan over low heat and cook, whisking occasionally, until the curd is thickened and almost at a simmer, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pass the mixture through the fine-mesh sieve once again (this will ensure that it’s perfectly smooth). Pour the curd over the cheesecake filling, smoothing it into an even layer. Allow to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Garnish with whipped cream and sugared cranberries, if desired.