How to make a Christmas tart
Baking a tart is pure therapy. Nothing is more tempting than a buttery crust that tries to resist then succumbs and crumbles under your fork. The filling in that constant precarious state of limbo between liquid and wobble. The remainder down your top despite being as careful as you can be lifting it from plate to mouth, there is always that rebel smear or crumb making its departure down your front and hopefully something you can rescue later.
There is nothing complicated about this tart, it is just the process takes a little longer. Nothing showy or stressful just a delightful holiday plodding at the stove.
I’ve suggested a pre-bought pastry in the interests of time here but please do make your own if you are willing. And the smell of it cooking brings the sort of reward we only dream about.
Sticky Brandy cream tart with spiced cranberry and quince jam
Serves 8 – 10
1 x 375g packet sweet shortcrust pastry (use Careme’s)
1 ¼ cups cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
½ cup caster sugar
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons brandy
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
2 cups good quality cranberry jam
½ cup quince paste
3 tsp mixed spice
Grease and line a 25cm pie tin or rectangular tart tin with a loose bottom. Roll out the pastry then gently line the base of the pie tin and trim any overhang. Pop the lined shell in the fridge and let rest for 15 minutes.
Blind bake the base for 10 minutes or until slightly golden. Allow to cool.
While the tart shell is blind baking add the cream cheese, crème fraiche and sugar to a bowl and whisk until creamy. Add the eggs, yolks, brandy, vanilla and spice and process until smooth.
Melt the jam and quince paste in a small heavy saucepan with 1 tbsp water over moderately low heat, stirring until smooth. Spread half the jam over the base of the cooled pastry shell. Set aside until the jam layer sets (xxx min) then gently pour over cream cheese mixture.
Cover with foil and bake until the filling is set but still slightly trembly in the middle. About 40 minutes. Be careful at this stage as it will continue to set as it cools. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Reheat the remaining jam and stir until smooth. Pour the remainder of the jam over the top of the cheese filling and spread evenly. Chill the tart in the fridge until cold. Just before serving, remove the tart from the pan. When slicing it works best to use a hot wet knife.