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December, Day 16: All Tarted up for the Party

16.December 2009

One exciting thing about the little party I hosted on Saturday (and I promise, we can move on to other topics as soon as I’ve gotten through all the recipes from Saturday!) was that I was trying a LOT of new things.As you all know, following recipes is not my forte and my preferred food is pretty casual. I like foods that come in lumps, and not neat stacks or slices or curls. I like food best that is unchoreographed. So, when I set out to make these two desserts, it was a real departure. Even if they’re ‘rustic’ tarts, a Tart sounds pretty fancy-pants to me. I’ve only ever made one tart before. For Saturday, I thought desserts with panache would be a nice change.

And so I decided on two different brown-butter tarts. They are both called brown-butter tarts, but these two recipes are very, very different.First, the Orange and brown-butter tart, from Fine Cooking’s February/March issue this year. This tart was delicious, top to bottom, crust to cream to topping. The tart shell was straightforward, but delicious, crispy and flaky. The oranges on top were lovely, but in the future, I might make this tart with a different topping (not because the oranges weren’t delicious, but because I have an irrational aversion to cream combined with citrus – Dreamsicles away!). But friends, the filling. The Filling! It’s fabulous! Make this tart (whether with oranges or with some other topping) at your earliest convenience!
Second, but no less delicious, the Brown Butter-Cranberry Tart, from Food & Wine’s December issue. It reminded me a little bit of the Buttermilk Pies of my youth (that’s a recipe I’ll share with you sometime) and a little bit of the custardy tarts you get in German bakeries. Delicious. I will admit that I didn’t love the crust on this one, but that’s probably because I had already used my only fluted tart pan on the Orange tart and the pie plate I used made the texture come out all wrong. But, really, I would probably use the orange tart’s rather less crumbly crust in combination with this tart’s delicious filling. Oh, also, instead of making the suggested cranberry topping, I used some of the lightly spiced cranberry sauce I canned with Christine before Thanksgiving. It was delicious.

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