A Christmas Star
One of my favorite winter indulgences is lemon curd. Spread onto eclairs, filled into tart shells, and topped on scones, it’s velvety and piquant and a delicious change from the usual single dimension chocolate desserts served around the holidays. It’s also a godsend to the busy host as it can and should be made ahead of time (up to 2 weeks) giving you time to spend on other more time-sensitive dishes. The thing that it is not is local.
So when I was looking at one of my favorite cookbooks, Cold Weather Cooking by Sarah Leah Chase, and found a recipe for Cranberry Curd, I was pretty pumped. With the exception of orange juice and a bit of Grand Marnier, this is a local product. With a deep rose hue and a silky smooth texture, we packaged it as teacher gifts and spread the remainder in between star cookies for festive Linzer tarts.
Linzer Tarts with Cranberry Curd
Makes 36 sandwich cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon almond extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
With a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after the addition of each one. Add almond extract and beat well. Beat in flour and baking powder on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Mix on medium speed until the dough is well combined.
Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for four hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 375°F. After the dough is chilled, cut it into quarters and working with one quarter at a time while keeping the remainder refrigerated, roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick. Cut the dough into 2-inch stars with a cookie cutter. Cut out a small star from the larger star. Gather the scraps, wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerating 2 hours before re-rolling. Repeat with remaining dough. Place the circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat 1-inch apart. Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes without browning. Cool cookies on the baking sheet placed on a rack.
Adapted from Sarah Leah Chase’s Cold Weather Cooking
4 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
zest from 1 orange
Combine the cranberries, orange juice and 3/4 cup sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the cranberries have popped and are very soft, approximately 15 minutes. While the cranberries are simmering, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Push the cooked cranberries through a food mill or a fine mesh strainer. Return the cranberries with the butter to a clean saucepan and bring to a simmer. Whisk in a small scoopful of cranberries into the egg yolks. Add the yolks to the simmering cranberries, whisking all the while. Cook until the curd is very thick about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the Grand Marnier and the orange zest. Let cook and then refrigerate for several hours.