If anyone knows how to cook with cranberries, it’s the people of Warrens, the heart of Wisconsin’s cranberry country and site of the legendary annual Cranberry Festival. Resident Shirley Johnson once won honors in the festival’s cooking contest with her gorgeous cranberry tart; this is an adapted version of Shirley’s winner.
1. To make the crust: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9 1/2-inch spring form pan (with removable bottom), or similarly sized tart pan. Beat the softened butter and sugar in bowl until light and fluffy. Stir in flour, milk and almond extract. Press this mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake until pale brown, 12-15 minutes. Cool completely.
2. To make the filling: Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar and almond extract in a deep bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Continue beating as you drizzle in the heavy cream. Chill thoroughly.
3. To make the topping: Mix 2 cups cranberries, 1/2 cup of the sugar and 1/2 cup water in saucepan. Bring to boil; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cornstarch; stir into cranberry mixture. Cook until thickened, 1-2 minutes. Cool mixture, then chill it thoroughly.
4. To assemble and garnish the tart: Spread cream cheese filling evenly over crust. Spoon cranberry topping over filling to within one inch of filling edge. Whip heavy cream until soft peaks begin to form. Add almond extract and sugar; whip until firm peaks form. Decorate tart with dollops of whipped cream (a pastry bag works best). Accent each dollop with a whole cranberry. Keep tart chilled until you’re ready to serve it.
Copyright by Terese Allen