Cranberry & Lemon Chocolate Tart


I flunked out of my rehab program and I’m proud of it.

A few weeks back I made my big declaration on these pages about how I was only going to cook with seasonal, locally grown autumnal produce. Spring was over, I reasoned, and I needed to accept it. Thus, I set out on a mission to rehabilitate my need for non local and seasonal produce. Well, fast forward to last week. I wake up and its cold and the ground is covered with snow.

I’m forced to spend hours, braving sub-zero temperatures, trying my best to free my driveway from a one foot sheet of ice. Ok, technically, it wasn’t sub-zero temperatures…it was 24 but that’s still cold.

So, I don’t care what I said about appreciating all seasons and the bounty of fall. That was crazy talk. I want summer …now. I want the sun. I want the green grass. I want the bright baby blue skies. And I am so Happy Summer is ahead.


I don’t even mind having to witness tourists strutting around beaches wearing Speedos. On that note, unless you’re in Europe or on an Olympic swim team, it’s questionable whether any man should wear Speedos in public. 



My mind was made up. I would thumb my nose at Old Man Winter by making a bright and summery lemon tart. Now, I just needed to find a recipe that inspired me into action.


Flipping through the cookbook, Stonewall Kitchen Harvest, I struck gold. A lemon and cranberry bar. Not only would I get the bright citrus flavor that I was after but this recipe with its use of a cranberry filling actually had a nod to fall/winter – which means I’m not totally off of the seasonal wagon.


While I liked the lemon-cranberry concept, I wanted to make a few changes. First, I could tell from the recipe that the lemon filling was going to be too dry and airy (like a meringue). I wanted something more dense and creamy like a custard. So, I searched for and found a lemon filling recipe in another book (The Art of the Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis).


Secondly, the Stonewall Kitchen recipe was for bars and I wanted a tart. To help counter the double dose of tartness, I thought I would match the filling with a deep and rich chocolate shell.



This brings me to the star of this dessert – the chocolate tart shell. It’s from pastry chef extraordinaire John Iuzzini’s book, Dessert Fourplay. I can’t imagine that I would use any other chocolate crust recipe in the future. It’s crisp and crunchy like a cookie. It’s sinfully deep and rich. And when I say rich, I mean Oreo cookie chocolatety rich. This one is a keeper.


Thinking over the plan, I realized how insane I was. I was making one dessert compiled from three different adapted recipes from three different books. But guessed what? It worked. I really like that combo of flavors. Like I had hoped the filling had this wonderful bright flavor. And the chocolate tart shell really helped to counter and ground the tart.


Note 1: There was enough filling and dough left over that I was able to also make two smaller tarts. Thus, the photos in the step by step are intermingled with shots of both the larger and smaller tarts.

Note 2: As you can tell from the photos of the chocolate dough, this dough tends to break apart as you’re working with it. No problems. Just patch it back to together in the tart pan and you’ll never know the difference.




Cranberry Filling (Adapted from Stonewall Kitchen Harvest)


  • 13 ounce bag of fresh cranberries
  • ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • Lemon Custard Filling (Adapted from The Art of the Tart by Tamasin Day-Lewis)
  • 3 lemons, juiced and zest removed
  • 1/3 cup corn starch
  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 6 TBL sugar
  • ¼ TSP vanilla extract
  • 4 TBL butter, cut into small cubes
  • Ultra Rich Chocolate Tart Shell (Adapted from Dessert Fourplay by Johnny Iuzzini)
  • 10 TBL cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1/8 TSP kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • Confectioner’s Sugar



  1. Combine the cranberries and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir and cook until berries burst and the mixture thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and puree with a handle cranberries with a hand blender until the mixture is fairly smooth. Stir in sugar. Set aside.


  1. Put the lemon zest and juice in a small heat resistant bowl placed over a saucepan of simmer water. Add the cornstarch and whisk in 2 tablespoons of water until you have a smooth paste. Add the remaining water, boiling hot, and keep whisking over simmering water until the mixture is thick and bubbling.
  2. Remove bowl from heat and whip in yolks, sugar, vanilla extract and butter. Let mixture cool slightly and set aside.


  1. Preheat conventional oven to 375⁰F or 350⁰F for convection.
  2. Put the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle along with the sugar and the kosher salt. Beat until pale.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and egg white together. Add gradually to the butter, scraping the bowl often and beating until smooth. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together. Add to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed only until blended – do not over mix.
  4. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball and flatten to a disc. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Dough will keep for several days in the refrigerator and for 2 months in the freezer. Defrost before rolling. )
  5. When ready to use dough roll it between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll dough until it is wide enough to fit into an 11-false bottom tart pan – about 1/8 thick. Working fast, press dough into tart pan, making sure to press dough into the ridges on the sides of the pan. If the dough breaks apart just patch and press it into open areas of the tart pan (see above picture).
  6. Dock tart with a fork to prevent the dough from rising during the cooking process. Line the tart with parchment paper and fill with pastry weights, rice or beans. Bake tart until cook through, about 15 minutes. Occasionally check tart to prevent it from burning. Remove shell from over and set aside.


  1. Preheat conventional oven to 375⁰F or 350⁰F for convection.
  2. Pour a layer of cranberry filling in the bottom of the pre-cook tart shell. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, until cranberry filling begins to set. Remove tart from the refrigerator and add the layer of lemon filling on top – being careful not to mix or swirl the lemon filling into the cranberry base.
  3. Place tart on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until the lemon filling has set. Be careful not to overcook or let the lemon filling brown or burn.
  4. Remove tart and allow it to come to room temperature and refrigerate.

Optional: Garnish with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar and/or lemon zest.

Makes one 11-inch tart.

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