This cranberry curd and speculoos tart is just one of the jaw-droppingly gorgeous creations from Lauren Ko‘s Pieometry, her wonderful new cookbook dedicated to “modern tart art and pie design“. It’s filled with a delightfully imaginative collection of pies and tarts decorated with intricate, eyecatching patterns and designs. The designs range from simple geometric forms made with fruit to elaborate woven dough lattices. It was almost impossible to decide where to start, but I settled on this cranberry curd and speculoos tart, or the Happy as a Gram tart as she names it, since it suits the upcoming winter season. This tart is simple to make and will be a great dessert pick for your holiday table. It was the first recipe I made out of Ko’s book, and based on the final result, it won’t be the last.
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The crust is a simple press-in mixture of speculoos cookie crumbs and butter. I’m a big fan of the Trader Joe’s speculoos cookies, both for eating and for making crusts – they have a nice, spice-forward flavor and the ideal crisp texture. I made some very similar cranberry curd tarts with a gingersnap crust a while back, so I’d say any spiced cookie makes a great base for the tart cranberry curd filling.
Look at the gorgeous color on that cranberry curd – i’m pretty sure it’s from the high ratio of cranberries to the eggs and butter. It’s also baked in the crust for a few minutes to help it set more. I would keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it as otherwise the filling will start to soften up. This curd would also be great on its own as a spread over toast.
The top design is of course the crowning touch, a mix of mango, dragonfruit, and kiwi pieces cut and arranged to resemble the classic Chinese game of tanagrams. Since I’m pretty obsessive, I assembled the design on a plate first, then transferred it to the tart. I even made a little stop motion video of the tart assembly to show my process. But you can also completely freestyle it – it’s definitely an absorbing exercise in creativity, which seems to be running theme of Pieometry. I’m definitely inspired to up my own tart and pie decorations after perusing her book.
- 32 (250 g) packaged speculoos cookies (I like the Trader Joe's brand)
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 15 oz (425 g) cranberries, fresh or frozen
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup (150 g) sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 firm mango
- 1 white-fleshed dragon fruit
- 2 or 3 firm kiwis
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Put the cookies in a food processor and blitz until the cookies are a uniformly sandy texture. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse until the mixture comes together like wet sand.
- Turn the mixture out into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Use your fingers to pack the mixture tightly into the pan, going all the way up the sides, then use your palm to flatten the bottom. Make sure the edges and the bottom are compact and of even thickness. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet to catch any butter drips that occur during baking and to provide stability as you transfer the tart shell in and out of the oven.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the crust is no longer shiny with butter. It will continue to crisp up as it cools.
- Keep the tart shell in the pan, cool completely, and store in the fridge or freezer until ready to fill.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine the cranberries and 2 tablespoons water in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the cranberries burst and start to break down, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and press the cranberries through a fine-mesh sieve with a silicone spatula, extracting as much puree as possible. Discard the remaining pulp and return the puree to the saucepan.
- Add the lemon juice, sugar, salt, eggs, and egg yolks to the cranberry puree and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, whisking continuously, until the mixture is thickened enough to coat a spatula, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping the corners of the saucepan.
- Remove from the heat and strain the curd through a fine-mesh sieve.
- Keep the baked tart shell in the tart pan and place on a baking sheet. Pour the curd into the tart shell, smoothing the surface. Bake the tart for 5 minutes, just to set the filling.
- Cool completely before decorating.
- Peel and cut the fruit into ¼-inch slices. Arrange the fruit slices on a large plate organized by type.
- Cut any type of triangle—equilateral, scalene, obtuse, acute, isosceles, right—from a piece of mango, slicing as close to the edge as possible to maximize the yield of each fruit slice. Pause here if you feel the need to Google image search some triangles. Otherwise, throw math to the wind and cut any sort of shape with three sides. Place it along a tart edge.
- Cut another shape from a kiwi slice and place it next to the mango, leaving some space between the fruit, not unlike tile grout lines. Generally, polygons like triangles, parallelograms, and trapezoids work well for this design.
- Cut another shape, perhaps a rhombus, from a slice of dragon fruit, and fit it next to the kiwi. Continue cutting shapes, alternating among fruits, and puzzling the pieces together on the tart. Build out from your starting point and slowly fill the whole surface, gradually working your way to the other edge.
- Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This tart is best consumed within two days.