Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving & Cran-Raspberry Cheese Tart

I just love, love, love fall in New England. I've said it before, I'll say it always: It's my favorite magic! This year has been especially wonderful getting to experience fall for the first time through the eyes of my son, Barrett, who is just fascinated by all the colors of the vibrant trees, now nearly gone. And the bright, chirping birds, soon to depart.

Photos taken on Boston Common.

Not to mention, the food, of course. The cool, sometimes downright bone-chilling cold air begs for things that feature cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves... to be baked--filling your home with deliciously intoxicating warm air.

I came across this recipe about a month back on the Joy of Baking website, and even though it was almost identical to a recipe my grandmother found under the top of a tub of cool whip we've been making for years, with the exception of real whipped cream in place of cool whip, I just loved the festive addition of cranberry topping on a simple dessert I make every year over the holidays with Thanksgiving and Christmas just days and weeks away. Can you believe I never thought to use cranberries? Maybe you'll remember I made something very similar last year, Pear-Cheese Tart
with a Chez Panisse Gingersnap Cookie crust.

I will make this harmoniously blended mix if sweet and tart confection again tomorrow, along with last year's favorite: Green Apple-Cranberry Pie, to serve on Thanksgiving. It was delicious.

Cranberry-Raspberry Cheese Tart
Recipe courtesy and adapted from Joy of Baking

Graham Cracker Crust:

1 cup (100 grams) graham cracker crumbs or digestive biscuits (crushed)
1/2 cup (50 grams) crushed ginger cookies (homemade or store bought)
2 tablespoons (30 grams) granulated white sugar
5 - 6 tablespoons (70 - 85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
zest or lemon or orange (I used the latter)


One 8-ounce (227 grams) cream cheese, at room temperature, preferably Philadelphia in the rectangular package.
1/4 cup (50 grams) confectioner's sugar
1& 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream

Cran-Raspberry Sauce:

3 cups (300 grams) frozen unsweetened raspberries
2 cups (200 grams) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar (or more to taste)
Zest of a lemon or orange (optional)

For Crust: Process graham crackers and ginger cookies until finely ground. Add lemon zest, if using and pulse again. In processor (or bowl), mix graham cracker and cookie crumbs with sugar, and melted butter. Pour into bottom of a well greased 8-9 inch tart pan. Evenly press mixture over bottom and up sides of pan. ( You can also use a springform pan, evenly spreading mixture over bottom and up sides, about 1 inch, of the pan. I've even done this in a pie plate.) Cover with plastic and refrigerate while you prepare your filling. *You can choose to bake crust at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes, allow to cool and then cover and refrigerate, if you like a firmer crust like me.

For Filling: Using electric, or hand mixer, mix cream cheese until smooth. Add in sugar and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Scrape mixture down from sides of bowl. Add vanilla extract and mix to incorporate.
In medium, clean, cold bowl, mix or electric whisk whipping cream, forming soft peaks. About 2 minutes. For light filling, gently fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. For more dense cake (which is what I prefer), mix whipped cream into cream cheese mixture until combined. Use plastic wrap to cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

For Cranberry-Raspberry Sauce: Add all ingredients into large saucepan. Over medium heat, cook, stirring often until the fruit bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Taste for sweetness and add more if desired. Store, covered in the refrigerator.

Assembly: Once all of your components have cooled/chilled, simply add cream cheese mixture into crust and spread evenly. Top with fruit mixture. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!
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