When Emily Fleischaker, Associate Multimedia Editor of Bon Appétit, contacted me just a few days ago to ask me to participate in the Bon Appétit Blog Envy Bake-Off. I was thrilled! To be featured on this venerable food magazine’s website — and to have the opportunity to compete with some of America’s top food blogs for best holiday dessert — is a delicious honor indeed.
Immediately, my creative juices started flowing — I wanted to create a dessert that was seasonal and a little bit French. But I also wanted my recipe to be inspired by classic American holiday desserts. That’s when the humble and beloved pumpkin pie came to mind… I thought it would be fun to revamp it and give it a modern twist.
It didn’t take long for me to conceive of today’s dessert. Butternut squash is a close relative to the sugar pumpkin, and its delicate flavor and creamy texture make for the most delicious pie filling. So why not make it into an elegant tart? The rest just fell right into place. The Cointreau highlights the butternut squash’s inherent citrus notes and the buttery pine nut dough makes every bite of this tart melt in your mouth!
And what would a holiday meal be without colorful cranberries? That’s how the cranberry compote found its way in. And it’s perfect, really… just two ingredients: cranberry and sugar, gently simmered into a compote — the little bit of tartness that makes every element come together.
As for the rosemary gelato, it refreshes the palate with every spoonful. Then, as a last indulgence, the dessert is drizzled with a little orange blossom honey syrup.
Needless to say I’ll be serving this dessert for my holiday dinner… and I hope you will too!
December, 20 2009: I am happy to report that my dessert was one of the five finalists and won best “Pies & Tarts”. Thank you all for your votes! Your support has meant more to me than I could ever say…
PS: Scroll down for the step-by-step instructions for the food processor tart dough. I developed this recipe over twenty years ago and have made it countless times! It’s truly foolproof… and I hope the pictures make the whole thing look simple enough that you’ll feel confident about making it on your own.
Butternut Squash-Cointreau Tart with Rosemary Gelato and Cranberry Compote Orange Blossom Honey Syrup
makes 1 large tart or serves 8
active time: 1 hr 15 min
For the dough
- 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons organic sugar
- pinch sea salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter – cut in 1″ chunks
- 3 tablespoons cold milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the filling
- 2 large organic eggs
- pinch sea salt
- 2/3 cup organic sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup Cointreau
- 1/4 teaspoon very finely grated orange zest (use microplane grater)
- 1 1/2 cups butternut squash purée
For the cranberry compote
- 6 oz (170gr) fresh cranberries (1 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 cup organic sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
For the orange blossom honey syrup
- 1/3 cup orange blossom honey
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- powdered sugar as garnish
- 1 recipe Rosemary Gelato with Crème Fraîche
- tiny rosemary sprigs as garnish
- 9″ x 9″ square tart mold with removable bottom (or 10″ round tart mold with removable bottom) – lightly buttered
- extra flour for rolling the dough
- Step 1: In the bowl of a food processor, place the flour, pine nuts, sugar and salt. Process at high speed for 30 seconds, until the nuts are finely chopped. Add the chunks of butter and pulse until crumbly. In a small bowl mix the milk and vanilla. Drizzle on the crumbly mixture and pulse until the dough comes together in a ball. Scrape dough from the bowl, gather into a ball and shape into a 4” x 4” smooth square (with no cracks on the sides). Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes until it is cold, but still a bit soft if you press your finger in it.
- Step 2: Place the eggs, salt and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip at high speed until the mixture is pale and ribbony, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cream, Cointreau, orange zest and butternut squash purée. Continue whipping at low speed until well incorporated. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 325°F (163ºC).
- Step 3: Unwrap the dough and set it on a heavily floured surface. Sprinkle dough with a little more flour and roll it out to a 12″ x 12″ square. Gently lift the dough off the counter by sliding your hands flat under it and set it over the tart mold. Press dough lightly against the sides. Trim the excess dough with a sharp knife. Set the mold on a baking sheet. Line dough with aluminum foil and press carefully but firmly against the sides. Bake for 20 minutes until very pale yellow at the edges. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the aluminum foil.
- Step 4: Increase oven temperature to 350ºF (177ºC). Pour the squash mixture in the pre-baked tart shell. Bake for about 40 minutes until golden and slightly puffed up. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature in its mold.
- Step 5: While the tart is baking, prepare the cranberry compote. Place the cranberries, sugar and water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat. The sugar will melt and the cranberries will start to pop. Once the sugar is foaming at the edges, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until the cranberries start to blister and the juices thicken. Transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.
- Step 6: When ready to assemble the dessert, place the honey and lemon juice in a small pan and heat over medium heat until honey becomes liquidy, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and keep in the pan.
- Step 7: Unmold the tart and dust with the powdered sugar. Cut tart in 6 to 8 even rectangles. Place each slice in the center of a dessert plate. Place a small scoop of the rosemary gelato next to it and a spoonful of the cranberry compote. Drizzle with the honey syrup, garnish with a rosemary sprig and serve immediately.
- Cook’s note 1: The tart will keep for 12 hours at room temperature and is best eaten the day it is made. If you need to refrigerate it, make sure to bring it back to room temperature for 1 hour before serving. Refrigeration will make the crust a bit soggy.
- Cook’s note 2: The cranberry compote can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Free 30-day trial. No credit card required.
Food & Style Club is Viviane’s new interactive, multimedia cookbook you can make your own. Get exclusive new recipes weekly, add your own recipes, peruse wine notes—even chat directly with Viviane. It’s a cooking class built into every recipe!
Food Processor Tart Dough – Step by step
In the bowl of a food processor, place the flour, pine nuts, sugar and salt. Process at high speed for 30 seconds, until the nuts are finely chopped.
Add the chunks of butter, making sure they do not touch.
Pulse holding down the button in 3-second intervals until mixture is crumbly.
In a small bowl mix the milk and vanilla. Drizzle on the crumbly mixture, making sure to drizzle it evenly all around. If you dump the whole thing in one spot your dough will not form properly and you’ll have to start all over… (And I’m sure you don’t want that!)
Pulse holding down the button in 3-second intervals until the dough comes together in a ball.
Scrape the dough from the bowl, gather into a ball and shape into a 4” x 4” smooth square (with no cracks on the sides). The trick here is to work quickly so the warmth from your hands doesn’t warm up the dough too much.
Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes until dough is cold, but still a bit soft if you press your finger in it.
Brush the bottom and sides of the mold with a little melted butter.
Sprinkle flour on a work surface or counter — there must be no bare spots. Cover a surface of about 14″ x 14″.
Unwrap the dough and set it on the floured surface. Sprinkle dough with a little more flour.
Roll it up-and-down twice, using light pressure on the rolling pin. (You’re not making pizza!)
Then roll it side-to-side twice… Continue rolling the dough alternating up-and-down and side-to-side until it is about 12″ x 12″ square. If cracks form at the edges, just press the dough back together with the tips of your fingers. Work as quickly as you can so that the dough doesn’t warm up too much, otherwise it’ll be very hard to lift it and place it in the mold without it tearing.
Roll out the dough so it is about 1 to 2″ larger on all sides than your mold.
Gently lift the dough off the counter by sliding your hands flat under it and set it over the tart mold (that’s when you’ll know if you floured your surface enough and if your dough was cold enough).
Press dough lightly against the sides.
Trim the excess dough with a sharp knife.
Line dough with aluminum foil and press carefully but firmly against the bottom and sides. The aluminum foil will keep the sides from shrinking as they bake. So make sure it is well placed around the sides and especially at the corners.
Place tart mold on a baking sheet or jellyroll pan and bake for 20 minutes until very pale yellow at the edges.
Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the aluminum foil.
Disclaimer: As always, my point of view is my own. I do not accept samples, and have no commercial relationship with any product, food or wine company.