Friday, 1 February 2008

Better late than never

I have been meaning for weeks now to share all of the wonderful details of our Christmas dinner. Hubby and I had so much fun doing everything, and worked very well as a team. I was initially a little sceptical about this joint cooking venture, as it would have been the first time something like this was too occur. Okay, it is practiacally the first time Hubby would be in the kitchen doing something other than trying to steal a taste of whatever I am preparing ;) But, yes it all turned out. Both of our families were so impressed with everything from the appitizer right on through to dessert. Even now we are still getting compliments on the bacon wrapped, maple syrup baseted turkey we Hubby cooked.

Pictures and recipies were to supposed to follow very quickly after the glourious occasion, but never seemed to make it here. Then all of a sudden it was one week after the holidays, then two and three. Now it is February, and it seems rather inappropriate to be bringing up Christmas dinner all of a sudden (even though that is exactly what I am doing right now). I guess for now most of it will be nicely tucked away, waiting to make its debut next holiday season.

There is one that I will share however, and that is the dessert. I debated and went back and forth on many different choices before selecting and sticking with this tarte. I am so glad this is the one I picked in the end :) It was a nice balance of sweet and tarte and had such a festive feel to it. The magnificent thing about it too was the ability to prepare it in advance, so I wasn't scrambling around at the last minute after dinner.

Cranberry Chocolate tarte

Chocolate Cranberry Tarte:

Cranberry Topping:
1/2 cup cranberry juice, divided
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

1 1/4 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (made from about 6 1/2 ounces cookies, finely ground in processor)
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Mascarpone Filling:
1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Thin strips of crystallized ginger (optional garnish)

Cranberry Chocolate tarte

For cranberry topping:
Pour 1/4 cup cranberry juice into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand until softened, 15 minutes. Combine 1/4 cup cranberry juice, cranberries, and next 5 ingredients in medium saucepan; bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until cranberries are tender but still plump, 5 minutes. Strain into bowl; set cranberries aside. Add gelatin mixture to hot juice in bowl; stir until gelatin dissolves. Stir cranberries back into juice. Chill until cranberry mixture is cold and slightly thickened, at least 8 hours or overnight. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.Stir chopped crystallized ginger into cranberry mixture.

For crust:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Combine chocolate wafer cookie crumbs, sugar, and salt in medium bowl; add 5 tablespoons melted butter and stir until crumbs feel moist when pressed together with fingertips, adding remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter if mixture is dry. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Bake chocolate crust until beginning to set and slightly crisp, pressing with spoon if crust puffs during baking, about 14 minutes. Transfer tart pan to rack and cool crust completely before filling.

For mascarpone filling:
Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients except ginger in medium bowl just until thick enough to spread (do not overbeat or mixture may curdle). Spread filling in cooled crust. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.Spoon cranberry mixture evenly over mascarpone filling. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours. Garnish with crystallized ginger strips, if desired. Cut tart into wedges and serve cold.


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