Cranberry & Satsuma Tart with Rich Cookie Crust and Gluten-Free Teff Variation

Here we are again with one of my favorite winter holiday culinary ingredients — cranberries. Homemade cranberry relish is just right to tame the edges of a rich, holiday meal. But, we can do so many more things with cranberries than make a relish. So, I’m baking a bright, festive “Cranberry & Satsuma Tart with Rich Cookie Crust” this Christmas. If you are looking for an easy, yet elegant dessert to finish a holiday meal or want a change from pumpkin pie, this is it. The tart is simple to make; using only a few household ingredients. It is hard to mess up this tart. The rich, shortbread-style cookie crust balances tart cranberries which have a taste of satsuma zest (satsuma is a type of orange) added in. Plus, I made a variaton of the crust using Teff flour — an ancient Ethopina grain, so that tart is gluten-free. I will enjoy several versions of this tart from now until Christmas!

I love fresh cranberries during the wintertime and dried cranberries all year long. There are so many ways to use this simple berry. The tart flavor of fresh cranberries adds a wonderful “pop” to baked desserts. Dried cranberries add a fruity taste to granola. Last year, I went all out and cooked an absolutely delicious, pungent sweet and sour chutney. (See end of post for how to access these recipes.) This year, I decided to make a cranberry tart. After several tries, I found a combination of ingredients which works for me. This tart can be baked ahead of time, refrigerated and consumed over several days. It is easy to make — rather than rolling out the cookie dough using a rolling pin, you simply press the cookie crumbs it into the tart pan to make the tart shell.

Gluten-Free Version

This is a good recipe for making a gluten-free cookie crust variation. The gluten in flour — when rolled or mixed — provides structure to baked goods such as cakes, pie crusts and bread. In this recipe, the cookie crumbs are simply pressed into the tart shell; there is no need to develop the gluten.

For the gluten-free crust, I used Teff flour — an ancient Ethopian grain — which has become more common in recent years in this country. It is a very nutritious grain — higher in protein than ordinary flour. The grain — when milled into flour — has a course texture, deep brown color and nutty flavor. It complements the tart cranberries nicely.

Recipe Ingredients for Filling

The filling for this tart uses only a few ingredients — in addition to fresh cranberries. In my final recipe, I added an apple to tame the down the cranberries. Even with all the sugar in the filling, cranberries are so, so tart. You really need another ingredient, in my opinion, to balance the cranberries.

I also added the zest and juice of several satsumas from my backyard tree. Satsumas are a type of mandarin orange, introduced to the South in the late 1800’s from Japan. This is one of the more hardy citrus trees around — in my Louisiana yard it has survived several hard freezes and bounced back. This year, my tree was loaded with fruit. If you don’t have satsumas available — any small orange, fresh mandarin orange or clementine can be substituted.

Making the Recipe

To make the cranberry filling, zest two satsumas (or oranges) and squeese out the juice. Peel and dice a tart apple such as Granny Smith or Gala.

Gently bring the cranberries to a boil on the stove along with the peeled and diced apple, sugar, satsauma zest and juice and a pinch of cinnamon. Then, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Don’t stir too much to avoid popping all of the whole cranberries. Take the pot off the stove and stir in cornstarch dissolved in water. Next, return to stove to let the cranberry filling thicken. That’s it! Let the filling cool down on the kitchen counter prior to pouring into the tart shell.

Shortbread-type Cookie Crust Recipe

The crust is a cookie shortbread-type of crust. It is rich with lots of butter and sugar, but so, so good. I am getting my cookie “fix” in the crust.

I mixed the cookie dough up in a food processor. It is crumbly — pulse the flour mixture (flour, baking powder and salt) and butter several times to pulverize the butter into small pieces — just like making a pie crust or biscuits. Then add the two types of sugar, vanilla extract and several tablespoons of water. Press the cookie dough into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Freeze the crust for 15 minutes before pouring in the filling.

For this recipe, I used a 9.5″ tart pan with a removable bottom. If you don’t have a tart pan, then a springform pan can be substituted. Just press the cookie crust about 1″ up the sides. I wouldn’t use an ordinary pie pan — the crumbly cookie crust will fall apart when you cut and remove pie pieces.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Don’t overbake this tart. Here is my tart version without apples.

Below is my cranberry tart with the Teff flour cookie crust and an apple added to the filling. I suggest serving the tart with whipped cream topping or ice cream!

This tart is delicious — the crust tastes like a rich cookie. Yum. The topping is colorful and festive for the holidays. It makes a welcome change from pumpkin pie. Enjoy the recipe!

Cranberry & Satsuma Tart with Rich Cookie Crust and Gluten-Free Teff Variation

  • Servings: 8 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients for crust:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 oz) butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 plain sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp ice water

Ingredients for filling:

  • 1 medium-sized tart apple, such as Granny Smith or Gala (about 2 cups diced apple)
  • 3 cups (12-oz bag) fresh cranberries, reserve several cranberries for garnish
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • zest and juice of 2 satsumas (or other small oranges)
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
  • satsuma slices, garnish
  • fresh mint, garnish
  • whipped cream or whipped topping for serving, if desired

Method and Steps:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. For crust, add flour, baking powder and salt to large food processor bowl. Pulse to combine.
  3. Add butter, cut in chunks, to flour in food processor bowl. Pulse four or five times until butter is combined into fine crumbs.
  4. Add plain and light brown sugars and vanilla extract and pulse to combine.
  5. Add ice water water and pulse several times until mixture is moist and crumbly. Use rubber spatula to scrape down sides.
  6. Transfer dough to a 9-1/2″ tart pan with 1″ sides and removable bottom and press firmly into bottom and up sides. Even off dough at top edge of tart pan with fingers.
  7. Place in freezer for 15 minutes
  8. Meanwhile, make filling. Peel the apple and cut into small dice. This should yield about 1-1/2 cup to 2 cups diced apples. Zest the 2 satsumas and juice. Use 1/4 cup orange juice in this recipe and use remaining juice elsewhere.
  9. Sort, rinse and drain cranberries. Reserve several cranberries for garnish. Add remaining cranberries, sugar, cinnamon, grated orange zest and 1/4 cup fresh squeezed satsuma (or orange juice) to saucepan. Cook over medium heat until cranberries come to a boil and the sugar dissolves. Some will begin to pop. Turn heat to low, gently boil for 5 minutes. Stir as little as possible so that most of the cranberries will remain whole.
  10. Mix cornstarch with water to dissolve cornstarch. With cranberry mixture off stove, mix the slurry into the cranberries, stirring gently but constantly. Then return pot to the pot. Cook and stir on stove, over low heat, until cornstarch thickens. Remove from stove and let cool to room temperature on kitchen counter.
  11. Then, remove tart shell from freezer. Pour cranberry filling into tart shell.
  12. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until filling is bubbly. Do not overcook tart.
  13. Remove from oven by grasping tart pan by sides — not removable bottom of pan. Cool to room temperature on wire rack.
  14. When ready to serve, remove cranberry tart from tart pan and transfer to serving platter.
  15. Garnish with reserved fresh cranberries, satsuma slices, and fresh mint.
  16. If desired, serve with a dollop of whipped cream or whipped topping
  17. Tart may be prepared a day ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve.

*NOTE: If desired, substitute Teff flour for all-purpose flour.

A preview of all my blog recipes using fresh and dried cranberries can be found in the dropdown “Recipe” tab along the top menu bar.

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