April 14, 2013

Cranberry-Peach Crumble Tart with Shortbread Crust

Feast your eyes.

Yep, that's one tasty tart! This tart is perfection: Shortbread cookie crust on the bottom, gooey pie filling in the middle, then topped with a crisp brown-sugar cinnamon oat crumb topping. Stop the madness! Stop the goodness!

The idea for this tart was actually born out of my laziness. My mother asked me to bake dessert to feed a crowd on Easter. The added challenge was that I would be traveling with whatever I baked... by train from Philly to Connecticut with my dog and luggage for a week-long trip to Puerto Rico afterward. 

I needed to bake something big and crowd pleasing, easy (I'd be baking on a weeknight), but that would also be solid enough to travel well. A huge cake and pies were out of the question. Dessert bars fit the bill but they didn't seem fancy enough for Easter dessert. It dawned on me: why not make a dessert-bar type of dessert, but in a big, beautiful tart form?

Flavor wise, I wanted rich and satisfying (this is dessert, after all), but nothing too heavy after our large holiday meal (decadent chocolate desserts just didn't seem right for the occasion). I wanted a fruit-filled-something that would highlight the bright flavors of Spring. A bar-type tart with fruit filling. This warranted a shortbread crust and crumble topping. Done and done!

It worked out perfectly, was loved by all, and I would definitely make it again in a heartbeat. It would be fun to play around with fruit fillings -- apple, cherry, blueberry.... Mmmmm! For a more traditional fruit-bar dessert, you could even pour in preserves/jam as the fruit filling. Sheesh, this post is making my mouth water!

Cranberry-Peach Crumble Tart with Shortbread Crust: makes two 9" round tarts
You will need two 9" springform pans

First, make and bake your shortbread crust:
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray springform pans with non-stick spray. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and spices with a whisk. Use a pastry blender, fork or your fingertips, blend the diced butter and egg into the flour mixture. It will be crumbly. Pat half of the crumbs into the bottom of each springform pan, pressing firmly. Bake in the oven about 15 minutes or until lightly golden, then cool before filling.

Meanwhile, make your fruit filling:
4 cans Light Peaches (in water or light juice)
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 T. honey
1/4 cup cornstarch

Drain the cans of peaches, reserving one can's worth of juice. Dice the peaches into large pieces. Add the juice of one can to a saucepan and add the sugar and cornstarch and stir. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, two minutes or until thickened. Add the peaches, cranberries, and honey. Stir to combine. Once it is thick (adding the fruit may have created additional water), turn off heat.

Then.... assemble that delicious oat topping:
1 cup flour
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter, diced

Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and baking soda. Add in the butter and use your hands to create a crumble. Set aside.

Pour half of the fruit filling onto each of the shortbread crusts and spread evenly to the sides. Top each crumble with half of the oat topping. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbling. Cool completely before serving with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!


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