Cranberry-Ricotta Tarts in a Toasted Almond Crust
- 2 cups almonds, lightly toasted
- 6 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup apple brandy, such as Calvados (or use water)
- 2/3 cup dried cranberries
- 2 cups fresh whole milk ricotta, drained if necessary (see Note)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
In a food processor, combine the almonds and brown sugar and grind until the almonds are finely chopped. Add the melted butter and pulse on and off, just until the butter is incorporated into the mixture. Place 6 (4-inch) tart pans with removable bottoms on a baking sheet. (Or you can use a 10-inch pan with removable bottom.) Divide the almond mixture evenly among the tart pans, pressing the crust firmly against the sides and bottoms. Set aside.CRANBERRIES:
In a small saute pan, slowly heat the brandy, and pour it over the cranberries in a heatproof bowl. (Caution: Do not heat alcohol over a high heat or it will ignite. If this happens, simply let it burn away, making sure that there is nothing flammable near the stove. It will burn away in a matter of seconds.) Let the cranberries sit for 20 minutes and then drain.FILLING:
In a medium-size bowl, combine all the filling ingredients and stir vigorously until the mixture is very creamy.
TO ASSEMBLE: Place the tart pans on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the cranberries into the crust. Carefully pour the cheese mixture just until it reaches the top of the crust. Bake the tarts in a preheated 325 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown. Let them cool completely before serving. As the tarts cool, the filling will fall and shrivel slightly. Nonetheless, they will still look irresistible. Remove tarts from pans just before serving.
Note: Sometimes fresh ricotta has a large amount of liquid, which can interfere with the baking process and create a runny tart. If your ricotta seems watery, place it in a colander lined with a double layer of cheesecloth, and let it drain for about 1 hour. If you do not have cheesecloth, use a thin paper towel or a coffee filter.
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