Combine the traditional flavors of the season in a new way with this maple-sweetened Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Tart.
The Recipe: Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Tart
This is another gem from my favorite baking cookbook, Alternative Baker by Alanna Taylor-Tobin. Buy her book for the adventurous and passionate bakers on your list this holiday season, and hopefully, you reap the sweet rewards.
Sweet But Not Too Sweet
This chocolate cranberry pecan tart starts with an almond and raw cacao crust. The filling is akin to a pecan pie, but it’s sweetened with organic brown sugar and maple syrup instead of traditional corn syrup. This yields a more nuanced sweetness that won’t send you immediately to the dentist. It’s a pecan pie 2.0 with the addition of dark chocolate and tart cranberries.
Are You Here to Connect? Let’s Talk Boredom & Traditions
As Thanksgiving rolled around this year, I found myself at a loss on the dessert front, which is normally my creative arena. I love the flavors of the holiday season, but I crave novelty.
I’ve been baking seriously for over 10 years now. That’s a lot of pumpkin, pecan, and cranberry cakes, pies, and variations over the years. I’ve even done hybrid pumpkin pecan pie already.
Thankfully, I found inspiration in this chocolate cranberry pecan tart, but being stumped made me think. I love traditions. Research shows they provide stability and comfort in an ever-changing world, but when does tradition lose its comfort and become boring and/or monotonous?
I suspect that traditions remain comforting with ample time and intention, and the lack thereof is just going through the motions. Have you experienced this? Repeating an event for the sake of tradition feels hollow, whereas adding time for sentiments, sharing, or reflection roots the event as a meaningful tradition in my book.
However, now that I’m armed with Brené Brown’s actual book, Atlas of the Heart, I dove deeper into my question of boredom.
Brene quotes researcher and writer Sherry Turkle, who says, “Boredom is your imagination calling to you.”
“Boredom is your imagination calling to you.”
How beautiful! Turkle’s quote resonated with me. Looking back on the isolation of quarantine, I saw how boredom inspired me to dig deeper. I started plucking a ukulele and learning choreography to some of my favorite pop songs. I painted and sketched. I wrote pages in my journal.
Looking back on this chocolate cranberry pecan tart, I see how my imagination was pushing me, challenging me. I’m not done with baking and sharing yet, so I needed to dig deeper and find more chocolate.
Don’t Forget the Ice Cream
Serve this chocolate cranberry pecan tart with a scoop of my Brown Butter Ice Cream. It has a cranberry-wine sauce swirl and chunks of candied pecans.
You Might Also Like: Cranberry Cheesecake
If you’re feeling festive and want even more cranberry dessert options, try this Cranberry Cheesecake with Wine-Poached Pears from my book, The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook.
Are You Here for the Dogs?
Speaking of maple syrup and boredom here’s little Maple Le with a case of ennui. It’s a daily occurrence.
Chocolate Cranberry Pecan Tart
Chocolate Tart Crust:
- ½ cup (60 g) blanched almond flour
- ½ cup (80 g) sweet white rice flour
- ½ cup (45 g) raw cacao powder
- 2 tablespoons (12 g) tapioca flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (decrease to ¼ teaspoon if using salted butter)
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) cold, unsalted butter, in 1⁄2-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon coffee liquor or vanilla extract
- 1 cup (100 g) raw pecan halves
- 2 tbsp (15 g) white rice flour
- ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp (75 g) packed organic dark brown sugar
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp (56 g) unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup (85 g) roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate or dark chocolate chips
- 1 cup (90 g) fresh or frozen cranberries, halved
For the Tart Crust:
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. This recipe makes a 9-inch round tart crust or a 12 x 4-inch rectangular tart crust. Spray your tart pan lightly with cooking oil.
- In the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the almond and sweet rice flours, and with the cacao, tapioca starch, and salt.
- Scatter the butter pieces over the top and drizzle with the coffee liquor or vanilla extract. Run the mixer until the dough forms moist clumps and the butter is fully incorporated, 20-30 seconds, pulsing as you near the end so as not to over-process the dough. If using a stand mixer, run on medium-low until the dough comes together, 3–5 minutes. If the dough refuses to come together or seems dry after thorough mixing, add up to 1 tablespoon more cold butter or plant butter.
- Dump about half of the crumbs into the pan and press the dough evenly into the sides of the pan. Add the remaining crumbs and press them into the bottom, keeping the edges square. (It takes about 10 minutes to make it look pretty.)
- Place the tart pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until pale golden and firm to the touch (15 minutes). Since the dough is dark, it can be difficult to tell when the crust is done, so set a timer and keep a close eye on the edges to see if they are darkening and pulling away from the pan. Since the crust will be baked with the filling, I err on the side of underbaking for a richer final bite.
- Remove the crust from the oven and, while it’s still hot, press the sides and bottom firmly with the back of a spoon or a cup; this will help it hold together when cool.
For the Filling:
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325°F.
- Spread the pecans on a small, rimmed baking sheet and toast until darkened slightly and fragrant, 10-12 minutes. Cool completely, then use your fingers to break the pecan halves into quarters and eighths.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sweet rice flour, brown sugar, and salt. Whisk in the eggs, whisking until smooth, then add the maple syrup and vanilla, taking care not to incorporate too much air into the custard. Whisk in the melted butter, then fold in the toasted and cooled pecans.
- Sprinkle the chocolate over the bottom of the crust, then the cranberries, and carefully pour the filling, distributing the nuts evenly.
- Bake the tart until the sides are gently puffed and the center is wobbly like Jell-O under the nuts and fruit (which will float to the top), 20-30 minutes.
- Let cool completely, then cut into slender wedges and serve. Alternatively, chill the tart before cutting into wedges for the cleanest slices, dipping the knife in hot water and wiping it clean between cuts.
- Serve the tart at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.