This post marks Day 2 of Miss Ginsu's 2008 Advent Calendar. To find other days and other projects, use the calendar page to navigate.
Everyone needs a nice little "company's coming" recipe that they can make up ahead of time, and this one is an inexpensive and impressive trick that works with leftovers, so it's super-thrifty.
I whipped up this idea for work to help people use up excess Thanksgiving cranberry sauce, but I think you could really use whatever fruit jelly strikes your fancy. In fact, I really want to do one with a batch of Lemon Curd. Yum.
You'll see it has a few steps, but none of them are trying. It's about 20 minutes of your time actively mixing, etc., and then there's a couple of hours of inactive chilling or cooking time, so this is a good one to work in while you're doing other things in the kitchen.
Obviously, you'll need a tart pan for this recipe. Use a 9" pan. I love the ones with the smooth coating and the removable base, because it makes serving up a flawless tart such an easy task.
Cranberry Cream Tart (Makes a 9" Tart)
For the Tart Shell:
1/2 cup hazelnuts or walnuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut in 1/2" pieces
1 large egg
For the Filling:
8 oz cream cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup cranberry sauce, warmed to room temperature
1. To make the tart shell, pulse nuts, flour, sugar, nutmeg (if using) and salt in a food processor or blender until finely ground.
2. Add butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with few small lumps. (You may also cut in the butter with the tines of a fork.)
3. Blend in the egg, mixing just until the mixture clumps. Chill for 20 minutes to improve handling.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and press the chilled dough evenly across the bottom and sides of a tart pan.
5. Bake in the center rack of the oven for 20 minutes, then remove the tart shell from the oven and cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
6. As the crust cools, whip the cream cheese, sugar and egg in a mixing bowl until smooth.
7. Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly across the base of the tart pan and bake 20 minutes.
8. Cool the tart on a rack for 10 minutes before spreading the warmed cranberry sauce across the surface of the cream cheese layer.
9. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 3 hours (or overnight). Cut into 12 slices to serve.
I've served this dolloped with a little fresh whipped cream (sweetened with maple syrup mmmm....), but that's just pure decadence, so skip it if you're not in the mood.
I think this would make a smashing offering at brunch or maybe teatime, but go crazy and serve it for dessert if you want.