mini cranberry meringue tarts

this post is kindly sponsored by Kerrygold but all opinions stated are my own. thank you for reading!

Every year, there comes a time when the days are suddenly a little shorter and the air fills with nostalgia and just a touch of crisp. There’s an unmistakable crunch with every step and all the familiar trees become bare as they welcome the holiday season.

Whenever summer comes to a close and I’ve baked all the fresh berry pies, bought up entire cases of famer’s market peaches, and failed at picking out the perfect pineapple for yet another year, I begin to long for those cozy winter days. I want to cuddle in blankets with my tea in my favorite mug, the dogs all curled up nose-to-tail by the fire, a twinkle coming from the other room where the tree is, the smell of cinnamon hanging in the air, and the third Harry Potter movie playing in the background for the millionth time.

With everything going on in the world right now, the holiday season will definitely be different this year. But for me, I think this is a wonderful opportunity to make the holidays even more special than ever! Without the worries of hosting large holiday parties and all the work that comes along with it, we can finally slow down and really cherish each day counting down to our favorite holidays. I’m looking forward to spending slow cozy nights in with our loved ones, heating up our house with the sweet smell of baked goods creeping out of the oven. I’m going to make my friends and family their favorite treats, tie them up with ribbon, and deliver them just in time for the holidays!

While I might be staying home for the most part, many people will be travelling to wish their family and loved ones well during the holidays. This year, my friends at Kerrygold want to make sure your travels are filled with as much joy and fun as possible! They’re mapping out local specialty ingredients so you can make stops along the way, picking up all the best bits, and by the time you arrive at your destination, you have all you need to prepare a wonderful and festive treat for everyone!

Raised in Southern New Jersey, my ingredient had to be the cranberry. With so many amazing cranberry farms nearby, it’s no wonder that New Jersey is one of the largest producers of cranberries in all of the states. This ruby red gem of a fruit is harvested in the fall just in time for all the holiday baking (and jam making!). There’s even a lovely cranberry trail and annual harvest festival you can experience every year! I fell in love with cranberries for their rich tart flavor that is brought out even more and blends beautifully with sugar. Its sharp flavor cuts through any sweet treat, striking the perfect balance.

Using every ounce of liquid ruby, I made the perfect cranberry curd. By cooking in Kerrygold unsalted butter at the end, it ensures that the curd is perfectly rich, buttery, and smooth. But what do we pair the best cranberry curd with? A beautiful golden and tender tart crust, of course! Kerrygold unsalted butter’s role in the tart crust is just as important. With a higher fat content and extreme richness, it’s the perfect butter to bake with! The crust dough comes together quickly, with tiny specks of butter all around, and is baked to golden perfection before being filled with the curd. In the end, the cooled tarts are topped with pretty swirls of swiss meringue, torched, and finally, ready to be shared. So come get your cranberries and bake along with me!

INGREDIENTS:
makes 6 mini tarts

for tart crust
2 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon (330g) all purpose flour
1 cup (120g) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (227g) Kerrygold unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
2 large eggs, cold from refrigerator
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for cranberry curd filling
2 whole large eggs
3 large egg yolks
18 ounces fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
peel + juice of 3-4 oranges (about ¾ cup juice)
¾ cup (170g) Kerrygold unsalted butter, room temperature

for swiss meringue topping
100g egg whites (leftover from 3 egg yolks used in curd)
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare the crust dough. At least 1 hour before you need to start preparing the tarts, prepare the crust dough.

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, powdered sugar, and salt, Whisk together.
  2. Add cold cubed butter into flour mixture and break up the pieces of butter between your fingers, then rubbing it into the flour until it resembles course bread crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs with vanilla and add to flour-butter mixture.
  4. With a spatula or wooden spoon, using folding motions, mix until shaggy dough is starting to come together in large clumps.
  5. Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead together lightly a few times to bring together. Dough should be soft but not sticky or dry.
  6. Divide dough in half, flattening each half into a rectangular disc, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  8. Bring one half of dough out of the refrigerator and divide into 3 equal pieces.
  9. On a lightly floured surface, gently roll each piece roughly into a more circular shape and roll it out to about a 7-8 inch circle, about 1/8 inch thick, flouring as needed.
  10. Drape the rolled out dough over mini tart pans carefully, pressing it gently into the mold, all the way up the sides, trimming off excess with a sharp knife.
  11. Place tart crust into the freezer as you prepare the remaining half of dough in the same way.
  12. Cut six pieces of parchment paper that are large enough to cover the surface of the tarts. Crumple them all up and then open up again. This will make them easier to fit into the pans.
  13. Place parchment over each tart crust and fill with pie weights all the way up all the sides. I use a mix of dried uncooked beans and rice. Place all tarts onto a baking sheet.
  14. Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges are starting to brown. Remove from oven, carefully lift up and remove parchment paper with weights and set aside to cool. Return tarts to oven and bake for another 8 minutes, until they are light golden brown.

Make the cranberry curd. Make sure to have all your ingredients measured and ready for these steps!

  1. Place eggs and yolks into a medium heat safe bowl and beat slightly. Set aside.
  2. Place cranberries, orange juice, and peels into a medium saucepan over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until cranberries soften and burst.
  3. Pour into a blender or food processor and blend very well until smooth.
  4. Strain mixture through a mesh sieve, pushing the mixture through with the back of a spoon, and place back into saucepan. Discard what’s left in sieve.
  5. Over medium heat, add sugar and mix well.
  6. Temper the eggs. Slowly stream about half the cranberry mixture into the eggs, whisking eggs very quickly to temper them. If you pour too much hot cranberry mixture in at once or don’t whisk quickly, you could risk cooking and scrambling the eggs.
  7. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and whisk well over medium heat.
  8. Mixing constantly, cook the curd until it’s slightly thickened.
  9. Add butter a couple tablespoons at a time, stirring well to incorporate before adding more.
  10. Once all the butter is added, continue cooking and stirring until curd is thickened and coats the back of a spoon well without all dripping off.
  11. Immediately fill each tart crust with the filling, leaving just a bit of the rim.
  12. Place entire baking pan of tarts into oven and lower temp to 350 degrees F. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the filling is set. It should still jiggle slightly but not be sloshy. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Make the swiss meringue.

  1. When the tarts are almost completely cooled, prepare the meringue.
  2. In a heat safe bowl (I always use the bowl of my stand mixer since I’ll be using it to whip up my meringue), combine egg whites and sugar. (make sure the bowl doesn’t have any oil residue—this will inhibit the whites from whipping up properly.) Place over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water.
  3. Mix or whisk constantly until the mixture is no longer grainy when you rub it between your fingers and is registering 170 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.
  4. Beat egg whites on high until glossy stiff peaks. Add vanilla and mix to incorporate.
  5. Place meringue into a piping bag fitted with tip of choice. (OR skip the piping bag and dollop and swirl meringue on top of cooled tarts).
  6. Pipe or spoon meringue onto the tarts as desired. Torch the tops of the meringue until lightly toasted.
  7. Slice, enjoy, share, and happy holidays!

Notes:

  1. Tart crust can be blind baked the day before but I highly recommend you make the filling as you’re preparing to bake tarts.
  2. It is very important to freeze unbaked tart crust prior to baking. Fill with pie weights all the way up the sides. These will both prevent shrinkage when baking.
  3. ONLY prepare and top with meringue when ready to serve. If you’re sharing tarts with others, they’re perfectly yummy and beautiful to be given out without the meringue topping!
  4. Covered lightly with foil, finished tarts will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

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