Do you remember my serious love affair with rhubarb over the past summer? It took some time, but I think I am ready to move on. This season, my heart stolen has been stolen by cranberries. And by pomegranates. Some people will have you choose between cranberries and pomegranates. But I would never ask you to choose. It’s like playing favorites with your cats.
Cranberries are serious. Dignified, rich with a tangy twist, you need to coax them to come and play. An intellectual fruit in my mind. Pomegranates, on the other hand, are silly. Bright and bursting with juiciness. Full of secrets that beckon you to dig deeper.
And like my cats, they play wonderfully well together. Especially in this little treat that’s a riff on a lemon bar. A cranberry and pomegranate curd that’s just barely sweetened, to cut some of the tartness topped on a rich, buttery pecan shortbread crust.
I brought them into the lunchroom on this dreary snow-sodden Monday and I think it brightened people’s day. How could it not with it’s brilliant color? A perfect pre-Thanksgiving taste. (As for the recipe request … this one’s for you, Kelaine).
Cranberry-Pomegranate Curd with Pecan Shortbread
adapted from The Kitchn**********
1 cup pecan pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces For the Cranberry-Pomegranate Curd:
12 ounces cranberries
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
Powdered sugar for dusting **********
Prepare the crust:
Line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment.
Coarsely grind the pecans in a food processor. Add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and pulse until finely ground (~10 additional one-second pulses). Sprinkle the chunks of butter over the top of the flour-nut mix and pulse until the mixture holds together when compressed in your palm (although it will be crumbly).
Press the crust mix into the baking dish, making it as even as possible. Freeze for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Remove the crust from the freezer and bake for 20-25 minutes, until beginning to color around the edges.
While the crust is baking, prepare the cranberry curd:
Place the cranberries and pomegranate juice in a medium-sized pot and cook over medium-high heat and stir. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until all the cranberries have popped and become mushy, about 5 minutes. Pour them into a fine-meshed strainer set over a medium-sized mixing bowl and press the cranberry-pomegranate puree through using a spatula (this make take a little elbow grease). Allow the puree to cool to room temperature.
Add the sugar, eggs and egg yolks to the bowl with the cranberry-pomegranate puree. Whisk thoroughly until the mixture is even.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and set the burner to medium. Stir the curd continuously, making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan. Cook until the curd starts to thicken, coats the back of a spoon, and registers about 150° on an instant-read thermometer. This should take 10-12 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter all at once. Stir until the butter has completely melted, then pour the curd through the strainer into a clean bowl.
Pour the warm cranberry-pomegranate curd onto the pecan crust. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes, until the curd has set but still jiggles slightly in the center. Cool completely and refrigerate before cutting.
To cut the squares, lift them from the pan using the parchment paper as handles. Dust the tops of the bars with powdered sugar just before serving and use a sharp knife to cut them into squares. The powdered sugar will melt into the cranberry curd, making sweet glaze.