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Mascarpone Tart with Cranberry Cider Compote & Pecan Crust

  This Thanksgiving is a little strange. Back in the day, I'd be going to one of my grandparents' house and feasting with my family and crazy sisters. But now there's only one set of grandparents, and this year half of my family isn't even going there/doing anything for the holiday. I could be making the trek, but instead I'm going to my significant's Thanksgiving...

  I guess that's the thing you do when you've been dating for a spell, but it's my first holiday away from "home", if you will.

  I'm torn between feeling nostalgic, wanting to impress people with a tasty dish, and doing my best to get into the holiday spirit.

  A couple years ago we had our family Christmas Eve in our then mobile home while my parents were building a new house. I made this tart for it. It's a good memory, everyone sitting in the living room admiring presents while I was in the kitchen slathering homemade cranberry sauce onto a chilled mascarpone tart.

  Annalise of Completely Delicious (great blog, been following it for years) calls this a lovely alternative to the classic Pumpkin Pie for a Thanksgiving dessert, or perhaps an nice accompaniment.  I think it does well on both the Thanksgiving and Christmas table, the mascarpone and berries are a complimentary refreshment after a particularly heavy meal.

  The process for me (with some speed chillings in the freezer) took about 3 hours, but if you can I really recommend doing this over the period of a couple days so you don't spend so much time waiting on it and get the best tart you can. I'm a busy bee these days and got a rare Wednesday off to fiddle around with this, so I did a more compact recipe-making (along with 8 zillion loads of hand-washed dishes).

That being said, I made this the day before Thanksgiving with a head cold, so it's not a difficult recipe by any means.

  If you were to divide it up, I'd say do the cranberry sauce and bake off the pecan crust on one day (so they have time to cool and be set), then make the filling and sugared cranberries (if you're feeling so decoratively inclined, they're optional) the next.

  The sauce smells amazing while it simmers, and it's packed with spices, brown sugar, orange zest, and apple cider (do local if you can!).


  My tart pan was a little smaller than what Annalise was using, so I ended up going a little heavier on the pecan crust than I intended to. But, it will still taste amazing. The crust comes together quickly in a food processor, make sure your toasted pecans are cooled off enough so they don't melt your butter.

  And because I'm extra, I made sugared cranberries and additional toasted pecans for garnish. They're not hard to make at all, they just take a bit to dry before you can toss them in sugar. But since I was waiting on 2 other things to chill, I had a bit of down time to play with. Even regular cranberries are also a nice topper. If you're interested in trying your hand at them, check out Everyday Annie for her succinct and thorough tutorial.

  I'll miss my family tomorrow, but I'm happy to be bringing a little piece of the Brandts with me in this conveniently aesthetically-pleasing tart. Happy Thanksgiving all <3

Mascarpone Tart with Cranberry Cider Compote & Pecan Crust
Yield: one large tart (if using anything smaller than an 11-inch tart pan, note that you'll have some leftover crust/filling)

Ingredients for the compote:
  • 1 (12-oz bag, 340 grams) cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • A few grates of nutmeg
  • 1 cinnamon stick (I didn't have time to get whole spices, ground will do in a pinch)
  • Dash of ground ginger

Ingredients for the crust:
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted (be sure they're cool!)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2-3 tablespoons ice cold water

Ingredients for the filling:
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese, chilled
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

To make the compote, in a medium saucepan combine cranberries, brown sugar, apple cider, orange zest, nutmeg and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst and sauce is thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely. (be sure to remove the cinnamon stick before topping the tart)

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg and pecans. Add the butter and pulse a few times until the pieces of butter are broken up. Combine the egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of ice water and add to the food processor while it is running. Pulse until the mixture starts to come together (the processor will make a loud sound).
Press the mixture into a large greased tart pan. Chill in freezer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line chilled crust with greased foil and fill with pie weights or dried rice or beans. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove weights and foil and bake until barely golden brown, about 20 minutes more. Let cool completely.

In a medium bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the mascarpone cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. In a large bowl, beat heavy cream to soft peaks (if your handheld mixer comes with a whisk attachment, use it). With mixer on low, slowly spoon mascarpone cream mixture into whipped cream until incorporated and smooth. Spread onto cooled crust.

Top with cranberry compote (you'll likely have extra, save it to serve on the side). Garnish as desired. Keep in fridge.

Sources: adapted from Completely Delicious