Eton Mess-Topped Cranberry Curd Tart with Candied Kumquats

A colourful little tart I created last month for our Thanksgiving feast turned out to be quite the showstopper.

Even though we’re up to our ears in boxes and the movers come next week, I had to share this recipe with you. I’m usually all about the classic desserts for the fall and winter holidays, but this time it was really fun to change things up with this unique Eton Mess-Topped Cranberry Curd Tart with Candied Kumquats. Yes, that’s a mouthful, and I promise you, it tastes even better than it sounds.

Here’s a dessert that’s absolutely perfect for the holiday season, featuring sweet clementines, fresh cranberries and tiny little kumquats, not to mention mounds of cream and crispy, crumbled meringues. Read on for a handful of photos and the recipe for this decadent tart.

As a recipe developer I always pay attention to the reactions of my guests when I’m serving up a new dish. The moment this dessert arrived at the table a few conversations halted – and changed gears to inquire about this vibrant tart with its cloud-like topping.

And when it was served up and handed out, the result was unanimous between both young and old alike – we had a keeper.

The inspiration for this recipe started with a cranberry tart from New York Times Cooking. I loved the colour, and adore the cranberry and orange flavours for this time of year, but felt like the dessert looked a bit….naked.

Enter the idea for topping it with an Eton mess, a traditional British dessert, consisting of whipped cream, broken meringue and fruits (fresh, compote or coulis). It’s a simple dessert and the perfect way to elevate my cranberry curd tart to the next level.

So I had the tart base and the Eton mess topping, still, I had one more idea. Candied citrus is one of my favourite garnishes for winter desserts (remember this lemon bundt cake?) because they bring big flavour and  fantastic chewy texture. I decided to candy kumquats and fold them into the Eton mess. Best. Idea. Ever.

I used a candied kumquat recipe from Bon Appetit – which is really very easy and can be prepared several days in advance. Rest assured you could also make this dessert without the kumquats, but they do bring a lovely candy-like chew to the tart topping.



Friends, this recipe isn’t exactly simple, but each step can be made in advance. And rest assured, the final result is well worth your time.

So to sum up: here are the main components:

  • A blind-baked tart shell. This can be prepared in advance and kept frozen.
  • The cranberry clementine curd. This is the vibrant fruit filling for the tart.
  • The candies kumquats. These add a wonderful chew to the dessert, not to mention a pop of colour as a garnish.
  • The whipped cream. This part is simple. Slightly sweetened whipped cream for the Eton Mess topping.
  • The meringues. Essential for an Eton Mess. You can make or buy these from a bakery. Any size will do, as they will be crumbled up into the whipped cream.

I’d love to see you put your own spin on this dessert. Try chopped pistachios or sugared cranberries for a garnish. Change up the crust for something with nuts, like a gluten-free hazelnut crust. Most of all, have fun with it.

Obviously this is a special occasion tart! The flavours that would work for both the upcoming American thanksgiving as well as Christmas. I served the tart to my guests at Thanksgiving last month and everyone loved it – the textures, the balance between the sweetness and the tanginess, the elegance. It’s a showstopper!

Eton Mess-Topped Cranberry Curd Tart with Candied Kumquats
5.0 from 2 reviews
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Recipe type: Dessert
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Total time:
Serves/Yield: Serves 8
Like a beautiful marriage between a pavlova and a pie, this elegant tart is perfect for the holiday season.
Ingredients
  • 1 disc Rich Pie Crust
  • 3 ½ cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • juice and zest of 2 small clementines
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 ½ cups 35%cream
  • 15-20 small meringues
  • 2/3 cup candied kumquats
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Shape the pie crust into a disk, and on a lightly floured surface, roll it out into about a 12 -inch circle. Drape over a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, and gently press it in to fit into the bottom and sides. Use the rolling pin to roll across the edge of the pan to cut the pastry cleanly away; discard any scraps.
  3. Review my How to blind bake a pie crusttutorial. Place a piece of foil or parchment in the pastry and fill with pie weights; bake for 15 minutes, then remove the weights and foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove and set aside to cool completely.
  4. Make the Cranberry Clementine Curd: In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, 1 cup + 3 Tablespoons of sugar, cardamom, clementine zest and juice. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes, until the berries pop and soften.
  5. Set a fine-mesh colander over a bowl and pour in the sauce; press down firmly with the back of a ladle on the solids to extract as much cranberry juice and puree as possible. Discard the solids in the sieve.
  6. Stir the butter into the cranberry sauce, one cube at a time, until it is all melted and incorporated. Mixture will be quite cool.
  7. Beat eggs and egg yolks lightly in a separate bowl. Slowly whisk a cup of the cranberry liquid into the eggs, tempering them. Pour egg mixture into the rest of the cranberry liquid and whisk to combine. Return liquid to the saucepan, and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until it bubbles and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  8. Strain the curd one final time through a fine-mesh sieve into another bowl, using the back of a ladle to push it gently through.
  9. Scrape the cranberry curd into the pre-baked tart shell and use an offset spatula to smooth the top.
  10. Let stand at room temperature until set, about an hour. Refrigerate for one hour and up to 24 hours.
  11. For the Eton Mess Topping: Whip the cream and 1 Tablespoon of sugar together until soft peaks form. Crumble in the meringues by hand, leaving some chunks big and other tiny. Fold in most of the candied kumquats.
  12. Mound the Eton mess onto the cranberry curd tart. Crumble a few more meringues on top and garlish with remaining candies kumquats. Serve at once.
  13. Alternatively, cranberry tart can be stored up to two days, refrigerated, just note that the meringues will soften in the whipped cream topping.

Images provided by my fellow foodie friend, Alison Slattery of Two Food Photographers. Thanks, Ali!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. Glorious dessert, of course, but where did you get that fabulous dress?

    • Hi Heidi. Hey, yes, very important – the dress I found at Anthropologie years ago. It’s an Eva Franco design and still looks as good as it did the day I bought it. 🙂

  2. I can’t wait to make this tart! I may be too late for Thanksgiving, but I can still make it for Christmas!

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