Thanksgiving Digest
Michael Romano and Danny Meyer's Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Zest

Maury Rubin's Cranberry, Caramel and Almond Tart


It really wouldn't have been fair not to follow up this post with a more detailed one, because despite the shrunken crust, this tart really is one for the recipe files, the lamination, the hall of fame. It comes from Maury Rubin, of City Bakery fame and the author of the fabulous Book of Tarts (which I own, and yet have never baked from, puzzlingly), so of course its pedigree promises great things. And if you'll note in your printout that you must line your unbaked, empty pie shell with aluminum foil and pie weights before blindbaking it, then you'll have spectacular results, I'm sure.

Oh, and another thing? I think the metal tart pan is key. I forgot mine at home, and had to use a glass pie dish instead, and while I'm not sure what effect that had on the crust, something tells me that Maury calls for a metal tart pan for a reason. But otherwise, the rest of the recipe is so easy. You melt sugar in a nonstick pan until a brown caramel emerges. You add warmed cream and melted butter to the pan and stir this into a luscious sauce, before tossing frozen cranberries and sliced almonds in it and piling it all into the baked pie shell.

Wait, one more note. Keep an eye on your oven. Ours was a bit hot and the top layer of almonds burned in the second baking. We attempted to pick off the worst offenders, which resulted in a slightly lopsided tart. But covered with a dollop of barely sweetened whipped cream? It didn't matter at all. The faintly bitter caramel, the bright and saucy cranberries, the mellow, crunchy almonds - they all blended into a fantastic, sophisticated dessert that absolutely shone on the holiday table.

Cranberry, Caramel and Almond Tart
Serves 10 to 12

Tart dough
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon heavy cream

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Let the butter sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until malleable.

2. Place the powdered sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer or a large free-standing bowl. Add the pieces of butter and toss to coat. Using a paddle attachment with a standing mixer, combine the sugar and butter at medium speed, until the sugar is no longer visible.

3. Add the egg yolk and combine until no longer visible.

4. Scrape down the butter off the sides of the bowl. Add half of the flour, then begin mixing again until the dough is crumbly. Add the remaining flour and then the cream and mix until the dough forms a somewhat sticky mass.

5. Flatten the dough into a thick pancake, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours before preparing to roll out the dough.

7. Lightly butter a 9-inch pastry ring or fluted tart pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a nonstick Silpat pad.

8. Once the dough has thoroughly chilled, cut it in half, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat, until you have 16 equal pieces. Sprinkle your work surface with a thin layer of flour. Knead the pieces of dough together until it forms one new mass and shape it into a flattened ball. Flour a rolling pin and sprinkle flour again on the work surface underneath the dough. Roll out the dough into a circle one-eighth-inch thick.

9. Dock the dough with a pastry docker or prick the dough all over with a fork. Transfer the dough into the ring or tart pan by rolling about a third of it around your rolling pin, lifting it and placing it into the ring. Gently pat the dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the ring. Trim the edges so that they are flush with the top. Put the baking sheet with the ring into the freezer for one hour. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before filling.

Filling and assembly
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into eight pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup frozen cranberries
2 cups unblanched sliced almonds

1. Measure the cream and butter into a saucepan and heat it over low heat. When the butter has melted completely, turn off the heat.

2. To make the caramel, spread the sugar evenly in a perfectly dry 10-inch deep nonstick skillet and place it over medium-low heat.

3. The sugar should turn straw-colored, then gold and then a nutty-brown caramel after about 10 minutes. Slowly whisk the cream and butter into the sugar. Be extremely careful about the sugar, which can splatter as the cream is added (long sleeves are a good precaution). Strain the caramel into a bowl and cool it for 30 minutes.

4. Stir the frozen cranberries and the almonds into the caramel and mix until all the fruit and nuts are coated. Spoon the filling into the partially baked tart dough mounding toward the center.

5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until juices and the caramel are bubbling slowly around the edges. Remove from the oven and let stand for one hour, then gently lift the tart ring off the pastry.

6. Let the tart cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.