A chocolate cookie crumb crust, vanilla-scented mascarpone cream filling, and a tart, spicy cranberry topping? Okay then.
Seriously, this is SUCH a holiday-friendly dessert. You make everything ahead of time and scatter some crystalized ginger over the top before serving, meaning you don’t have to be running around the kitchen frantically before dessert; you can just linger and enjoy your evening. It’s red (festive!), it shines (the cranberries) and sparkles (the ginger), and it feels decadent and fancy without being heavy or complicated. I made it for Thanksgiving this year, during which my friends Agent Sidney Bristow and her husband Jackie Chan and I watched Game of Thrones and gave thanks that we were none of the characters therein.
1/2 c. unsweetened cranberry juice (not cranberry juice cocktail), divided
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 12-oz. bag fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 1/4 c. chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (made from about 6 1/2 oz. cookies, finely ground in a food processor. You can use Nabisco chocolate wafer cookies, if you can find them, but I could only find chocolate Teddy Grahams, which worked out just fine)
1/4 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
5 to 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 8- oz. container mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. chilled whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Thin strips of crystallized ginger (optional garnish)
Pour 1/4 c. of the cranberry juice into a small bowl or ramekin and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the cranberries, the remaining 1/4 c. cranberry juice, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, grated ginger, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the juice into a bowl, reserving the cranberries. Stir the gelatin mixture into the hot cranberry juice, then add the cranberries back into the mixture and stir. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours, and up to 2 days ahead of time. Once the mixture is cold and thickened, stir in the chopped crystallized ginger.
For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, stirring until the coookie crumbs are thoroughly coated with butter. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake for about 14 minutes until set, then cool completely at room temperature.
For the mascarpone filling:
Combine the mascarpone, powdered sugar, whipping cream, and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until thickened and soft peaks form (note: this takes less time than you think, and you’ll want to watch it carefully, because if you over-beat it the mixture will curdle. Go slow and stop to test it frequently).
Spread the mascarpone filling in the cooled crust, smoothing the surface. Spoon the cranberry mixture over the mascarpone and gently spread evenly. Chill the tart for at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours before serving. Top with thin slices of crystallized ginger, if desired. Serves about 8-12.
For our lingerie pairing, I have to tip my hat to both Undie Gamer and That Je Ne Sais Quoi for bringing the amazing label Fortnight Lingerie to my attention. This Canadian lingerie brand has an amazing look all its own that feels both retro and incredibly modern and chic. Beloved by women with petite busts, there are several styles that are also available in the smaller end of the full-bust size range. While there are some truly stunning pieces in the new holiday collection, like this lovely soft silver and lace bodysuit and this stunning slip featuring my beloved navy/black lace combo, I adore Fortnight’s non-wired longline bras with all my being.“Vega” in Wine is available at LynnSteven Boutique. Other pieces are available at Journelle, Lille Boutique, Sugar Cookies, Brooklyn Fox, and Secrets from Your Sister (Toronto), among others.