Posts Tagged ‘shortbread’

 With Christmas lights sparkling on the street, I was recently inspired to make a fancy Christmas desert.  It is a truth universally acknowledged that The Three Tarts Bakery makes some of the most divine tarts in Ottawa, and one of my particular favourites is their white chocolate cranberry pistachio tart.   This tart recipe, which infuses orange zest in the shortbread crust, looked like it could challenge The Three Tarts’ recipe – both for taste and for prettiness.  The added hint of citrus reminded me of oranges in my stocking on Christmas morning, the cranberries of turkey dinner, and the pistachios of eating nuts around a fire.  I could not have hoped for a better Christmas desert.
The tart exceeded all expectations: creamy and smooth, the sweetness of the white chocolate was balanced beautifully by the tartness of the cranberries, the nuttiness of the pistachios, and the zestiness of the shortbread crust.  I’ll have to find another excuse to make this again over the holidays!


White Chocolate Cranberry Tart with Toasted Pistachios
(1 10-inch tart: serves 12)


1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
2 Tablespoons whipping cream
Finely grated zest of one orange


4 ounces shelled unsalted pistachios (or a generous 1/2 cup)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup whipping cream
12 oz white chocolate, finely chopped or white chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
Splash of milk


Cut the butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles coarse oatmeal.  Whist together the egg yolk, whipping  cream, and orange zest together, and combine with the flour until the dough clings together.  Pat into a disc, wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll our tart pastry on a floured surface and transfer to 10 inch tart pan.  Trim edges. Cover with parchment paper and weigh down with beans or pastry weights. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the pie weights, and bake for 10 minutes more, or until golden. Remove the tart shell from oven and allow to cool.


Shell pistachios and toast if necessary.  Blanch cranberries in a large pot of boiling water.  Shock the blanched cranberries in an icebath and allow to dry on paper towel.
In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.  Add the white chocolate, wait a minute, and then stir until incorporated.  Add the butter and stir until smooth; avoid over-stirring since it will result in air bubbles in the tart.
Randomly scatter the pistachios and cranberries in the tart shell, and carefully pour the white chocolate cream filling overtop until the fruit and nuts are completely covered.  You will have a little extra chocolate cream filling left over.
Microwave the bittersweet chocolate in a small splash of milk for 45 seconds.  Stir until smooth and the chocolate is completely melted.  Dribble the dark chocolate over the tart.
Refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. One hour before serving, remove the tart to allow it to soften and enhance the flavours.  Cut with a hot dry knife.


Bon appetit!
– Catherine

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Rhubarb Surprise

I spent the long weekend at my cottage.  Despite enthusiastic cleaning, killer mosquitoes, and threatening weather, it was truly lovely to just be at lake.

A beautiful sunset at the lake!

My mother had long been dreaming about tasting my Cousin Hilary’s famous Rhubarb Custard Meringue.  With the garden’s first picking of rhubarb, she excitedly appointed me the task of preparing the dessert.  The one minor issue was that my grandmother had forgotten the recipe in town, so improvisation it was to be!

I had never tasted this dessert before , so I dutifully listened as my mother and grandmother tried to describe the dessert: a shortbread base with a custard middle, topped with fluffy meringue.  Armed only with a 1940s version of the Good American Housekeeping Cookbook (featuring an entire chapter on jellies and calling more frequently for evaporated than fluid milk), I experimented blindly.

The dessert was surprisingly tasty – bursting with rhubarb flavour (and who doesn’t love meringueOne caveat – because the recipe is improvised, feel free to adjust the portions below to your liking! Bon appétit J

Rhubarb Surprise

(16 servings, or 12 if you really really like rhubarb)


Shortbread Crust:

1 cup butter (or margirine)

¾ cup icing sugar

2 cups flour

Generous pinch of salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

Rhubarb Custard

6 cups chopped rhubarb

¾ cup white sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 pinch nutmeg

3 cups milk

6 egg yolks

3/4 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla


6 egg whites

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla


Shorbread Crust:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream the butter and sugar together.  Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Press evenly into a 9” by 13” pan.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly as you make the custard.

Rhubarb Custard

Combine the rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.  Allow to mellow while you make the custard.

Scald the milk over a double boiler. Remove from the heat.  Beat the egg yolks with the sugar. Pour the egg mixture in a slow stream into the milk, whisking constantly.  Return custard to heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about seven minutes.  Add the vanilla.

Pour the custard over the shorbread crust.  Spread the rhubarb mixture evenly over the custard.   Continue cooking for 10 minutes.


Beat the egg whites and with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Continue beating, while adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time.  The resulting meringue should hold a stiff peak.

Remove the dessert from the oven and gently spread the meringue on top.  Continue cooking for another 30 minutes.  Delicious served warm!

–       Catherine

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