For the Frangipane Filling:
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1/2 to 1 cup whole, fresh cranberries
1 Great Unshrinkable Sweet Tart Shell, baked and cooled (Recipe Below)
Powdered sugar, for dusting
- For pecan filling: Finely grind pecans and flour in processor. Mix in sugar, then butter, orange zest and brandy (if using). Blend until smooth. Mix in egg and egg white. Transfer filling to medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)
- Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spread pecan filling evenly in baked tart crust. Arrange cranberries on top. Use the smaller amount for a sparsely cranberried tart like you see in these pictures. Use the larger amount if you, like us, really like things extra tart.
- Bake tart until golden and tester inserted into center of filling comes out clean, about 44 to 55 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack. Push pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Cut tart into wedges; sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve.
Do ahead: Tart dough can be made, wrapped twice and kept in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer for a week or two. Baked pastry shell, once cool, can be covered in foil and kept at room temperature for up to two days. Frangipane can be made up to three days in advance, and kept in the fridge until ready to fill the shell. Cranberries keep well in the fridge, but even longer in the freezer. Tart can be made up to a day in advance and wrapped in the fridge (probably longer in the fridge, but you may risk losing some crispness) or at room temperature.
The Great Unshrinkable Sweet Tart Shell
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
My favorite part about this shell recipe and technique is that it doesn’t require pie weights. How cool is that?!
Makes enough for one 9-inch tart crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg*
1. Pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. (You’re looking for some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.) Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change–heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic, for about 2 hours before rolling.
2. To roll the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. (Alternately, you can roll this out between two pieces of plastic, though flour the dough a bit anyway.) Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.
Alternately, you can press the dough in as soon as it is processed: Press it evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the tart shell. You want to press hard enough that the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that it loses its crumbly texture.
3. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.
4. To fully or partially bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. And here is the very best part: Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer to fully bake it, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn’t have a lot of flavor. (To partially bake it, only an additional 5 minutes is needed.) Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature, and proceed with the rest of your recipe.
Do ahead: The dough can be wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, the flavor will be fresher bake it directly from the freezer, already rolled out.