This lightly spiced Cranberry Curd Tart combines the bold, vibrant flavours of seasonal cranberries with warming cinnamon, ginger and cardamom spices within a graham cracker crust. A beautiful eye-catching tart to take centre stage for your holiday dessert table.
I'm a big fan of making tarts as I find them so eyecatching to look at and can hold such bold, full flavours. My Plum Frangipane Tart, Earl Grey Creme Brulee Tart and Roasted Grape Mascarpone Tart are some of the most popular recipes on my site.
This Spiced Cranberry Curd Tart Recipe comes from my friend Taylor Harbin's first cookbook, Pie All The Time. As the name suggests, it's a book filled with an endless supply of pie! Taylor delves into various forms of dough, many, new to me, which I find exciting. Her recipes span both sweet and savoury, across all the seasons and for any occasion. There is literally no excuse to not make pie!
This delectable Cranberry Tart is made with a graham cracker biscuit crust filled with warming ginger and cinnamon spices for elevated flavour. The cranberry curd filling is fragranced with orange, (such a beautiful pairing), and has aromatic ginger, cardamom and cinnamon for even more depth of flavour. It's well rounded, bold in cranberry flavour yet subtle in spices that complement the cranberry rather than overtake it. What a beautiful tart. Congratulations Taylor!
Oh, and let's talk about the colour of this tart! Truly magnificent. Red, luscious and bright like a Christmas ornament! The red currants felt like strings of red baubles across the tart and the pearl sugar looked like snow! With cranberries being the ultimate winter fruit, this tart pays homage to them with this queen of desserts! Move over Thanksgiving Apple Pie, its time for Festive cranberries to shine!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Packed full of flavour. The cranberry curd is bold and vibrant yet smooth and silky. The crunchy spiced biscuit base offers the perfect texture and flavour alongside the curd.
- Make ahead dessert. Prepare the tart the day before. Allow it to cool, then refrigerate overnight and decorate with fruit and cream just before serving. Maximum impact but minimal effort on the actual day!
- Decorate it as simply or ornately as you like. You are the artist- create your masterpiece! Dust simply with icing sugar or top with pretty, jewel like fruit.
The cranberry tart base and the cranberry curd filling are both made with regular ingredients. What makes the list of ingredients feel a little more extensive than usual are all the spices needed in both components. They are a beautiful addition that elevates this tart with interesting flavour nuances.
If you love classic lemon curd or a traditional French Lemon Tart, you are going to adore this take on both tart and curd! Let's get baking.
- Butter - Unsalted butter is melted and added to cracker crumbs as this becomes the binding agent in the base.
- Honey & molasses - Adds sweetness and richness. I would say that they join the butter in helping to ‘glue’ the cracker crumbs together to form the base.
- Graham cracker - An American staple within tart bases. I found these in an American Shop in London. However, digestive biscuits are the perfect substitute for those baking this outside of the States.
- Cinnamon, ground ginger & salt - Flavour enhancers! The cinnamon and ginger add the perfect spice to the base and the salt balances the sweetness of the honey.
- Cranberries -Taylor states that fresh or frozen cranberries can be used. If you use frozen, then thaw them before making the curd.
- Water - The water helps the cranberries to heat up in the saucepan and to cook until bursting.
- Orange juice & zest - Orange and cranberries are a perfect match. The sweetness helps balance the tartness from the cranberries.
- Cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods & fresh ginger - More spiced flavouring for the cranberry curd. They are added to the cranberries and discarded along with the pulp, but by then they’ve worked their magic! (Taylor's recipe adds cloves, but I didn't have any at the time of baking.)
- Sugar - Definitely needed to combat the tartness from the cranberries.
- Eggs - Only egg yolks are needed to create the curd but they form one of the main ingredients within any type of curd. When whisked with the sugar and then heated, they bind and add richness to the curd.
- Butter - A little unsalted butter is added right at the end of making the curd. It creates beautiful shine, adds flavour and richness.
The two main components of the recipe, in themselves, are relatively straightforward to make. The biscuit base is easily made in a food processor. The cranberries are heated up on the stovetop for them to soften before a basic curd is made. Then it's all baked together in under 20 minutes. The size of my pan was 2-inches smaller than Taylor used (as it's the largest one I had), but I found the cranberry layer to be just enough for my size pan.
To decorate: In Taylor's recipe, she decorates with honey whipped cream. As just mentioned, I used a smaller tart pan that she recommends, and found the layer of curd to be just enough. I personally would have preferred it to have more curd in the tart. I decided not to use the honey-whipped cream as I didn't want to overpower the thin layer of curd. So, I opted for just a small amount of whipped cream and pretty fruit to decorate.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
Make the tart base
1. Melt the butter and add sweetness. First vital step when making the tart base. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. (Image 1) Taylor doesn’t state this in her recipe, but if you wanted to go one step further and brown the butter, the extra layer of flavour would be divine.
Add the honey and molasses into the butter and give it a good stir. The molasses is a thicker substance so tends to sink to the bottom. Don’t worry about this though. (Image 2)
2. Prepare the tart base. In a food processor, pulse the crackers until in fine breadcrumbs. (Image 3) Then add to a bowl and pour in the melted butter mixture. (Image 4) Make sure to scrape out the molasses from the bottom of the saucepan.
Add the cinnamon, ginger and salt and give it all a good mix together. The cracker crumbs need to be fully coated in butter and look like wet sand. (Image 5)
3. Pack crumbs into the tart pan & bake. Tip the cracker crumbs into a fluted tart pan with a removable base, and pack the crumbs in firmly. Use a cup to press down all around the base and onto the sides. (Image 6)
Bake for 12-15 minutes. It might puff up after baking. Just use the measuring cup to flatten it again once removed.
TIP: Use a measuring cup!
One of the best pieces of equipment to compact the base and sides is with a measuring cup, in particular a ⅓ cup. The base and right-angled sides of the cup work perfectly!
Make cranberry curd filling
1. Cook cranberries. Time to cook down those cranberries to extract their maximum flavour. Add the cranberries, water, OJ and orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger in a saucepan and let everything heat up until at a simmer. Keep stirring and gradually the cranberries will start to pop and the fruit mixture will thicken. Use the back of a spoon to pop the cranberries too. (Image 7 & 8)
2. Whisk eggs and sugar. In a separate bowl add the yolks and sugar and whisk them for about 2 mins. Taylor doesn’t state whether by hand or not - it’s up to you. Obviously, by hand, it may take a bit longer. Admittedly, I used a handheld electric whisk. Regardless of how the eggs need to be thick and pale. (Image 9 & 10)
3. Extract the cranberry sauce. Pour the cranberries into a sieve set over a bowl. Use a spoon to push it all around to extract as much of the cranberry juice as possible. Lift the sieve up and make sure to scrape the cranberry mixture off the base. Discard the pulp.
4. Add back into the saucepan and make the curd. Add the cranberry sauce back into the saucepan (no need for a clean one) and add in the egg mixture. Give it a whisk whilst heating until at a gentle simmer. Cook until the curd has thickened and it coats the back of a spoon. This is a little trick to know that the eggs have cooked sufficiently. (Image 13 & 14)
5. Finish curd, add to a tart base and bake! Take the saucepan off the heat and add the butter. Stir it in until it's melted and combined in the curd. (Image 15) Pour the curd into the tart base and level with an offset spatula. (Image 16 & 17) Then bake! It doesn’t take long ... only for 12 minutes or so until the filling is set. (Image 18)
6. Decorate! Get creative. The cranberry tart is basically a blank canvas at this point. (But also is perfect eaten just like this. I used a small amount of whipped cream, red currants, sugared rosemary and pearl sugar.
I won't offer many variations that detract from the Cranberry Curd Tart as this isn't my recipe and I want to stay true to Taylor's recipe.
- Biscuit base: I suggested earlier that for UK bakers, to use digestive biscuits instead of the graham crackers. Gingersnap biscuits or biscoff biscuits would be equally delicious against the cranberry curd. Turn this into a gluten-free tart by making a hazelnut crust as done by NYT Cooking.
- Plain cranberry: If you wanted to omit the spices from the cranberry curd filling and the tart base, then by all means you can. I do believe they elevate the flavour of this tart but I think you would agree that it would be a shame to rule out making the tart for the sake of the spices. So you go as heavy with the spices as you like!!
- Biscuit crumbs. If you don't have a food processor then add the crackers/biscuits to a sandwich bag, seal shut and crush with a rolling pin.
- Pack into the tin. Use a ⅓ measuring cup to compact the crumbs for a neat finish.
- Heat the curd gently. When the cranberry sauce and whisked eggs are added back into the pan to heat through, do it gently on low heat. The last thing you want is scrambled eggs! Pass curd through a sieve if you do see any lumps.
Frequently asked questions
Absolutely! Crack the egg onto the side of a bowl, or on the countertop, and break the egg into your hand with your fingers closed. Let the egg whites drop through your fingertips and into a bowl below whilst gently holding the yolk. If you aren't used to doing it this way, it can feel a bit slimy and messy, but it is the easiest!
If you aren't sure of what size your eggs are, then go by weight. without the shell, one large egg (yolk and white) should be approximately 50g.
How to store and freeze
To store: Wrap cranberry tart in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Note that the crust will start to soften the longer it is kept. Also, if you've decorated the top of the cranberry tart with whipped cream, then the cranberry colouring will start to seep into the cream.
To freeze: The crust can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature. The cranberry curd can be made, stored in a freezer-safe container and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and continue on with the recipe.
Equipment you’ll need
- 10-inch Tart pan with removable base: In Taylor's book she uses a 12-inch tart pan. The largest I have is 10-inch so I went with that. In truth I would like to try this Cranberry Curd Tart next time in a 9-inch tart pan for a slightly thicker curd filling once baked in the base. That's just personal preference though!
- Heavy-based saucepan: Used to cook those cranberries in to make the cranberry sauce, and then to make the curd in.
- Fine-mesh seive: 100% needed to push the cranbe cranberries through to remove the pulp and spices.
More festive holiday recipes that you may like.
If you tried this Spiced Cranberry Curd Tart or any other recipe on my website, please let me know how you go in the comments below. I love hearing from you. Also, please leave a star rating whilst you're there!
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Spiced Cranberry Curd Tart Recipe
- 10-inch tart pan with removable base
- Fine-mesh sieve
- 85 g unsalted butter
- 30 ml honey
- 30 ml molasses
- 230 g graham crackers (or digestive biscuits)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt
- 340 g fresh cranberries, washed or thawed frozen, (3 cups worth)
- 120 ml water
- 60 ml orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2.5 cm chunk fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin coins
- 150 g granulated sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 55 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 orange zest, finely grated
To decorate (optional)
- whipped cream, red currents, sugared rosemary
For the crust
- Melt the butter and add sweetness. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Once melted, remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the honey and molasses. Set aside the pan.
- Prepare the tart base. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a large bowl, and add the butter, and honey-molasses mixture, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Mix until well combined and clumpy.
- Pack crumbs into the tart pan & bake. Transfer the mixture to a 25cm (10-inch) fluted tart pan with a removable base. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides evenly, using a glass or measuring cup. Ensure the crust is packed in firmly into the whole tart.Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes or until it's golden brown and set. If the bottom puffs up during baking, then gently press it back down again once it's finished baking.
For the curd filling
- Cook cranberries. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a saucepan set over medium heat, bring the cranberries, water, orange juice, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low and cook the mixture until the cranberries pop and have broken down, about 12-15 minutes.
- Whisk eggs and sugar. Whilst the cranberries mixture cooks, in a separate bowl, combine the yolks and sugar and whisk until they are pale in colour, about 2 minutes, then set aside.
- Extract the cranberry sauce. Pour the cranberry mixture into a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, pressing the pulp gently with a spoon to get as much puree out as possible. Be sure to scrape the underside of the strainer as well to get all the puree. Discard the pulp and spices and pour the strained puree back into the saucepan.
- Add back into the saucepan and make the curd. Add the egg mixture and cook over medium heat, constantly whisking, until the consistency thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Finish curd, add to a tart base and bake! Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the butter and orange zest. Pour the filling into the crust and bake the tart until the curd is firm, with just a slight wobble in the centre, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely at room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours until the filling is completely set.
- Decorate! Decorate the tart as you would like. A liberal dusting of powdered icing sugar would be beautiful in its simplicity. Or decorate with seasonal fruit such as red currants, such as I did.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.