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Cranberry Clementine Tartlets

Makes 8 servings
  • Active time: 1 hr
    Total time: 3 hr
It's common knowledge that cranberry and orange make a dynamic duo, but when you mix it up and substitute clementines for the orange, the synergy is off the charts. So imagine the delights in a tart cranberry purée spiked with clementine juice, then spooned into a tiny buttery-crisp cookie shell and topped with a tangle of glossy candied clementine zest. Sounds like a perfect example of the adage that the best things come in small packages.

INGREDIENTS:

For Candied Zest:

  • 5 tight-skinned clementines
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar

For Filling:

  • 1 (12-ounce) package fresh or frozen cranberries (don't thaw)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup clementine juice (squeezed from clementines for zest)

For Dough:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for buttering muffin cups
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk

EQUIPMENT:

  • 1 (24-cup) or 2 (12-cup) mini-muffin pans, preferably non-stick

INSTRUCTIONS:

Make Candied Zest:

  • Remove zest from clementines with a vegetable peeler and cut off any white pith. Squeeze 1/2 cup juice from clementines and reserve for filling. Cut zest into 1/8-inch wide strips.
  • Cover strips with cold water in a 1-quart saucepan and bring to a boil, then simmer 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water. Pat zest dry with paper towels.
  • Bring water and sugar to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add zest and simmer until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer zest to a piece of oiled foil, separating strands with a fork. Let air-dry at least 1 hour.

Make Filling:

  • Combine cranberries with sugar, butter, and reserved 1/2 cup clementine juice in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, until cranberries pop and filling has thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids. Cool.

Make Dough:

  • Pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles oatmeal. Add yolk and pulse just until dough begins to hold together.
  • Pat dough evenly into a 6- by 4-inch rectangle on a piece of wax paper then cut into 24 equal pieces.

Make Tartlets:

  • Butter muffin cups (even if non-stick ones) and freeze pans until butter is firm, about 5 minutes. Line muffin cups with dough by pressing dough with floured fingertips on bottom and up sides of each cup. Prick bottoms of shells with tines of a fork and freeze until firm, 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
  • Bake shells until crusts are golden, about 12 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on a rack (see Cooks’ Notes), then carefully remove shells from pan and cool completely.
  • About 2 hours before serving, fill each shell with 2 teaspoons filling and top with strands of candied zest.

COOKS’ NOTES:

  • Don't let the shells cool longer than about 10 minutes (set a timer!); otherwise they will be difficult to remove from the pan. (We learned the hard way when we forgot and let them cool an hour, then freaked out when they crumbled as we tried to pry them from the pan).
  • Shells, filling, and zest can be made 3 days ahead, but kept separately. Chill filling but keep shells and zest in separate airtight containers at room temperature.
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