Thanksgiving Make-Ahead Dessert: Brown Sugar Cranberry Tart

Brown Sugar Cranberry Tart

The sweet-and-tart berries in the creamy custard pop when you take a bite.
Makes one 9-inch tart

Ingredients

Tart shell

  1. 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1/3 cup sugar
  3. 1 large egg yolk
  4. 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling & Topping

  1. 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  2. 1/4 cup water
  3. 2 cups cranberries (10 ounces)
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  7. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons half-and-half
  8. 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
  9. Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  10. Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Directions

  1. MAKE THE TART SHELL 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 with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. 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.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the tart shell with foil and fill 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°.
  4. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING 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.
  5. 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, then pour in the almond custard.
  6. Bake the 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.

Recipe courtesy of foodandwine.com

Sparking Cranberry Bites: The Perfect Thanksgiving Appetizer!

Take the tartness of cranberries, add in a little sweetness and some creamy brie, and you have one amazing Thanksgiving (or Christmas) appetizer!   Better yet, it’s amazingly easy to make – something to cherish in the midst of the holiday cooking flurry: Simply prepare the cranberries 1-2 days before, then your elegant appetizer is ready to throw together Thanksgiving afternoon.

Sparkling Cranberry Bites

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup good maple syrup
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Brie of choice
Crackers of choice (*We like Carr’s® Table Water Crackers or Assorted Biscuits for Cheese)

  1. Rinse cranberries and place in a medium bowl. Heat syrup in a small sauce pan just until warm. Pour over cranberries when syrup is warm, not hot, or cranberries may pop. Cool, cover, and let soak in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Drain cranberries in a colander. Place sugar in a large bowl or baking dish. Add cranberries in 2 batches and roll around until lightly coated in sugar. Place on a baking sheet until dry, about 1 hour.

Serve with warm or room temperature brie on crackers. To warm brie, bake in often preheated to 350°, just until melted – about 10-20 minutes depending on size of brie round.

(Recipe from http://clarecooks.wordpress.com)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge (YUM!)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge
Makes 36 squares

For Cookie Dough

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, soften to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp half-and-half (or milk or cream)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
For Fudge
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half (or milk or cream)
  • 4-5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Line 8×8 square baking pan with aluminom foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. For the Cookie Dough, combine butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand or handheld mixer.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Mix in vanilla, salt, and half-and-half.  Add flour and mix until just combined.  Do NOT overmix.
  3. To prepare the fudge base, combine brown sugar, butter, salt, and half-and-half in a medium saucepan.  Stir over medium-low heat until butter is melted and brown sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat. Slowly stir in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until mixture is smooth and sugar is incorporated throughout.  Stir in vanilla.  Add more confectioners’ sugar if desired.  The more powdered sugar you add, the thicker, firmer, and sweeter the fudge will be. I used 5 cups.
  4. Add cookie dough to the fudge base and stir to combine.  At this point, the mixture should have cooled to room temperature.  If not, continue to stir until it is no longer warm to the touch.  Fold in mini chocolate chips and spread fudge into prepared baking pan.  Chill until set, about 3-4 hours.  Cut into squares and enjoy!

*Fudge will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator.

(Recipe courtesy of ohsoshabbybydebbie.com)

Making the Perfect Scone

Making the Perfect Scone: Take your time!

Scones: we love them, who doesn’t it?  Buttery, often sweet – what’s not to love? But if you’re wanting to make them at home, they often prove to be a rather poor comparison to the lovely scones found in restaurants and bakeries.  So we’re here to help!

No, we’re not giving away the farm and revealing our ultra-tasty scone recipe, but we wanted to provide a few simple tips for the next time you make scones at home. The key: take your time!  Making scones is not a quick process.

First, a bit of Scone History:
Scones are traditionally connected with Scotland, Ireland and England, but exactly who deserves the honor of invention, no one knows for sure. Originally, scones were made with oats, shaped into a large round, scored into four or six wedges (triangles) and griddle-baked over an open fire (later, a stovetop). With the advent of oven baking, the round of dough was cut into wedges and the scones were baked individually.

Today’s scones are quick breads, similar to American biscuits. They are traditionally made with wheat flour, sugar, baking powder or baking soda, butter, milk and eggs, and baked in the oven—both in the traditional wedge form and in round, square and diamond shapes.

How to Make the Perfect Scone:
1.
Use the right flour. Use a soft, low protein flour, such as aquality pastry flour. You want soft, tender scones and too much protein leads to too much gluten which makes your scones chewy.

2. Keep your ingredients cold. Temperature is critical to buttery, flakey scones. Start with very cold butter—it should chip when you cut it into chunks and your liquids should be ice cold. Before you start, measure your milk or water and put it in the freezer for ten minutes. Consider chilling your mixing bowl before mixing. Work with the dough quickly to keep it cool.

3. Don’t work your dough too much. Kneading converts the protein to gluten. Mix only until the ingredients come together into a combined mass.

4. Use a folding technique to produce flaky, layered scones. Roll the dough out to about 3/8-inch thick. Fold the dough in half and in half again and again. Roll the dough out to about 3/4-inch thick before cutting the scones.

5. Use a ruler. For appearance’s sake (if you would like nice, neat scones), use a ruler both as a straightedge to cut against and to measure equally-sized scones.

6. Leave the cut edges of the scones alone. Patting the edges with your fingers melds the edges so that the scone will not rise as nicely or have a flakey, layered structure.

7. Don’t over-bake your scones. Over-baking for even a minute or two will dry your scones out. As soon as the edges begin to turn brown, remove them from the oven. Immediately, place the scones on a wire rack—the hot pan will continue to cook, and therefor dry, the scones.

Storage tip: can be frozen for up to three months. Reheat them at 300 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Probe the inside of the scone to make sure that it is warm.

Ready to try?  Check out this recipe from Food Network: Dried Cherry Almond Scones.  They’re delicious!