tartlicious tuesday: cranberry linzer tart
The military tends to move its service members and their families to places that the family members, particularly the spouse, may have never dreamed of living. My husband, being a United States Marine, didn’t have the ability to choose some of the glamorous locales available to the other services.
At one time I found myself sobbing about how much I hated living in the middle of the Mohave Desert when another Marine Corps spouse gave me some very sound advice, “You have to grow where you are planted, honey.” That gooey, corny advice, complete with southern drawl did not sit well with this on-the-verge-of –a-complete- meltdown North Easterner. But, once I stopped feeling sorry for myself I realized she was right. I started to look around me. I discovered that the desert wasn’t a flat, one dimensional, seemingly sterile land. It was a living, breathing environment that hid its precious secrets well. And, when I saw a flower open that hadn’t bloomed in 40 years I knew I witnessed beauty in its purest form.
We spent 5 years in the desert. I grew to love the desert and I grew as a person. I learned how to look at my natural surroundings and not take them for granted, something I could never do at our next assignment. We moved, leaving the desert on December 15th, for Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Upon arriving on Cape Cod my senses went into overdrive. I was back in the north east. I smelled the ocean, listened to the gulls, marveled at the trees…even the ones without their leaves. I was inhaling every bit of this dynamic environment.
I couldn’t say that one thing impressed me more than another regarding the natural environment of Cape Cod. There was just so much to take in, changing with each season. But, one of my favorite memories was seeing the cranberry bogs everywhere we drove. They were a part of the landscape. I loved to see the bogs in each season. They were absolutely wonderful to me, from the pink flowers to the floating red berries.
The Cranberry, along with the blueberry and Concord grape, is one of America’s three native fruits. First used by the Native Americans, it wasn’t long before the European settlers, namely the Pilgrims, understood the value of the cranberry. The cranberry was named “craneberry” because the pink flowers resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill crane. Used for medicinal purposes, food and fabric dye, the cranberry was not just for the holidays.
Yet, for most Americans the cranberry has been relegated to a few uses; juice (to go with your vodka of course…making a “cape cod”, relish, chutney or sauce to go with turkey, strung with popcorn for making a Christmas garland and for making tarts or pies. It was on Cape Cod that I first tasted a cranberry linzer tart.
Watching the growing process and the harvesting of cranberries made me appreciate them all the more, but even if you don’t have that opportunity, you will definitely appreciate the sweet-tart deliciousness of this cranberry linzer tart. The recipe was given to me by a local who made it each year for Christmas and promised I’d never make it to give away as a gift! Well, here it is for you. Just make sure, if you’re on Cape Cod, you don’t make it and give it as a gift.
Cranberry Linzer Tart
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup water
8 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup dried cranberries
Zest of 2 oranges
Linzer dough (see below)
1. Combine the sugar, water, fresh cranberries, dried cranberries, raisins and orange zest in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until cranberries begin to pop and liquid begins to thicken.
2. Drain the cranberries over a bowl. Set aside the cranberries and return the liquid to the saucepan. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes to reduce and thicken. Then, pour into the bowl with the cranberries and mix together. Set the cranberries aside to cool completely.
3. At this time you can make the crust.
4. When the crust is made and the cranberry mixture is cool spoon the filling into the crust. Weave the strips of dough into a lattice.
5. Bake for about 25-35 minutes or until crust is a warm brown. When it is finished, place on a cooling rack to set.
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups almond flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated orange peel
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla
A pinch of salt
6 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, beaten
Ice water, as needed
1. In a food processor, combine the all-purpose flour, ground almond flour, sugar, cinnamon, orange peel, cloves, and salt.
2. Add the butter, and process until the mixture is crumbly. With the machine running, add the egg yolks and vanilla. Process until combined.
3. If the dough looks too dry add ice water, one teaspoon at a time until the dough comes together.
4. Set aside about ¼ of the dough. Roll out the other portion to a round the size of your tart pan. Press the dough into the pan. Roll the small portion of dough into strips to be used for the lattice (or you can roll the dough and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter). Chill the dough in the pan and the strips of dough for the lattice.