Original Versions/ Original Wheat and Dairy

Cranberry, Apple and Pistachio Tart

A friend of mine, who just happens to be the founder and CEO of the Virginia Renaissance Faire (shameless plug here) and is also one of my primary taste testers, was trying my first version of this tart. After making it clear that she loved this tart, she looked at me and said, “Where did you get the idea for this?” I paused, and said, “Well, I had some apples and I needed to do something with them. And I had some cranberries. And pistachios go well with cranberries. And, uhhhh….” I may have been inspired by a bowl of apples and the colors of the holidays, but I believe you will find this is a wonderful tart any time of the year.

The Inside Scoop

When both volumetric and weight measures are provided, the volumetric measures should be considered approximations. The standard measure for a cup of sugar is 192 grams. By volume, this measure will be less than 1 cup.

When adding chopped pistachios, spread the nuts on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (for easy clean-up) and bake for 5 minutes until aroma just begins to rise and nuts are lightly brown.  Pre-baking nuts helps to keep the nuts crisp and enhances the flavor.

Lightly toasted, chopped pistachios.

Butter needs to be very cold when making a pie or tart crust. Pie crusts should be flaky; tart crusts should be slightly crumbly. The steam that is generated as the butter melts during baking helps to create these effects. Freeze the butter before using. Then, using either a hand grater or the grating tool of a food processor, grate the frozen butter before adding it to the flour mix. If the grated butter is not used immediately, return it to the freezer.

Grated butter.

To separate an egg yolk from the egg white, carefully crack the egg on the side of a small bowl. Turn egg upend and catch the egg yolk and white in one end of the egg shell. Let the egg white begin to fall off. Then pour the egg yolk and white into the other half of the egg shelf and let the egg white fall off completely. 

Whisk the egg yolk and either the salted caramel vodka or the lemon juice together; set aside.

Egg yolk separated from egg white.

Food processors are wonderful tools and cut down on a lot of physical labor. If you have one, mix the crust ingredients in the bowl of the food processor. Begin by pulsing the flour mix and butter together for just one second 3-4 times. Do not over-process; Butter should look like small peas. Add the egg yolk and vodka mix through the feed tube and continue to pulse for a second at a time until batter begins to come together.

Crust batter just coming together.

If you prefer, you can also process the crust by hand with a pastry knife. To add the whisked egg yolk and vodka, make a well in the flour-butter mix and pour in the egg mix. Then fold together with a rubber spatula until dough just holds together. Once you have the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap, label and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Tart crust wrapped in plastic, labelled and ready to go in the refrigerator.

Tarts are made using tart pans. These pans have a removable bottom and the ring walls of 9″ diameter tart pans are approximately 1″ high.

After the crust dough has been refrigerated for 15 minutes, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, until dough is 1 1/2″ larger than the diameter of the tart pan. If your rolling pin is long enough, use 3/16″ dowel rods so that you maintain an even thickness to your tart crust. Fold the crust in fourths and ease into the tart pan. Unfold and ease crust into the edge of the bottom and side: Pushing dough into the pan rather than pressing dough outward reduces shrinkage. Trim off any excess dough so it is level with the top of the tart pan. Use a fork to prick all over the tart crust to reduce uneven bubbling in the crust. Then cover and refrigerate until ready to fill.

Tart crust, pricked with a fork and ready for filling.

To make the cranberry jam, place whole fresh or thawed cranberries into a 2-quart saucepan. Add sugar and heat on low just until sugar melts. Sugar burns easily, so it is important to heat on a very low setting. Once sugar melts, the temperature can be slowly raised until it begins to boils. The cranberries will begin to split open and the amount of jam will “reduce,” i.e., excess water will evaporate as the jam reaches the setting temperature of 220 degrees. A candy thermometer or instant read thermometer makes this easy to check. However, if these tools are not available, boil until the jam coats a spoon. Do not overcook- the goal is to make jam, not soft-ball candy.

After peeling and coring the apples, an easy way to slice apples into uniform slices is to quarter the apple, then cut each quarter into half (making 8 sections) and each eighth in half. This will give you a total of 16 similarly sized slices of apples.

To caramelize the apples, melt butter in a large skillet. Once melted, sprinkle the brown sugar on top and heat on low just until the sugar begins to soften. Sugar burns easily, so it is important to use a very low heat. Add the apple slices in a single layer and cook on low heat until the bottoms begin to turn brown. With a spatula, CAREFULLY turn the apples over and continue cooking until apples are brown on both sides and just beginning to become translucent. Remove pan from heat and let apples cool.

Caramelized apples.

To add a half egg, crack an egg into a small bowl and whisk until the egg white and yolk are completely combined. Large eggs, without the shell, typically weigh 50 grams. Place a small bowl on your food scale and pour 25 grams of the beaten egg into it. This is your half an egg. The rest of the egg can be added to scrambled eggs or another egg-friendly dish.

The filling in this tart is a type of frangipan. Frangipan is typically made using almond flour, but pistachio flour compliments cranberries and produces a wonderful green-colored filling.

For the filling, I chose a self-rising flour because of its very fine sift. However, self-rising flour is so fine that it can easily turn into a flour cloud if handled quickly or roughly. Gently spoon the self-rising flour into a medium bowl, add the baking powder and pistachio flour, and gently stir together. After creaming the butter, sugar, 1 1/2 eggs and vanilla, spoon the flour mix into the mixing bowl and stir by hand until the flour mixture is wet. Then return the bowl to the stand mixer and beat on a medium speed until batter is smooth.

When you are ready to assemble the tart, place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once your tart is ready to place in the oven, you will put the tart on this sheet pan; the hot sheet pan will help cook the bottom of the tart quickly and enable you to avoid the dreaded “soggy bottom.”

Remove the tart pan and crust from the refrigerator. Spread the cranberry jam as evenly as possible onto the bottom of the crust. Then drop dollops of filling onto the jam, being careful that the jam does not spread to the top of the batter. Smooth the filling up the inside of the crust and over the jam so that the jam is sealed under the filling. 

Cranberry jam spread on bottom of tart crust.

Pistachio frangipane filling seals in the cranberry jam.

During recipe development, when it came time to add the apples to the tart, my taste testers couldn’t decide which way they liked better. So you can pick which way you like best!

Version 1:  Place the tart, without the apples, in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes until the frangipane filling has puffed up and appears set. Remove the pan from the oven and quickly lay the sliced caramelized apples in concentric circles on top of the tart. Return the tart to the oven and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until filling is set and apples are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack. This version creates 4 distinct layers: crust, cranberry jam, pistachio frangipane and caramelized apples.

Version 1: Caramelized apples make a 4th layer on top of frangipane.

Version 2: After filling the tart with the pistachio frangipane, place the caramelized apple slices in concentric circles onto the frangipane. Place the tart in the preheated oven on the heated baking sheet and bake for 40 or more minutes until the frangipane has puffed up and appears set. Remove tart from oven and place on a cooling rack. This version creates 3 distinct layers: crust, cranberry jam and a frangipane and apple filling.

Version 2, before adding caramel topping and pistachios.

Once tart is completely cool, lift up the bottom of the tart pan with the tart on it and remove from the outer tart ring. Place back on the cooling rack and, using a squeeze bottle, squeeze a thin stream of caramel ice cream topping on top of the tart in a zigzag pattern. Sprinkle chopped, toasted pistachios on top.

Cranberry, Apple and Pistachio Tart

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)
By Connie Teunis Serves: 8 slices
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes Cooking Time: 40 minutes

A delightful holiday tart filled with red cranberries, green pistachio frangipane and golden caramelized apples that can be enjoyed any time of the year.


  • For the Crust:
  • 180 g./ 1 ½ c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 115 g./ 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, frozen
  • 1 Egg Yolk, whisked together with either 2 T. Salted Caramel Vodka or 2 T. Lemon Juice
  • For the Cranberry Jam:
  • 150 g. Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, whole
  • 150 g. Granulated Sugar
  • For the Caramelized Apples:
  • 2 Large Tart Apples, e.g., Granny Smith, peeled, cored and sliced into 16ths
  • 3 T. Butter
  • 48 g./ 4 T. Brown Sugar
  • For the Filling:
  • 90 g./ 6 ½ T. Unsalted Butter
  • 96 g./ ½ c. Sugar
  • 1 ½ Large Eggs
  • 45 g./ 3/8 c. Self-Rising Flour
  • 3/8 t. Baking Powder
  • 75 g. Ground Pistachio Flour
  • 1 t. Vanilla Extract
  • For the Topping:
  • Caramel Ice Cream topping
  • 30 g./ ¼ c. Pistachios, slightly chopped, toasted



For the Pistachios:


Heat oven to 350 degrees.


Chop pistachios in half. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for easy cleaning) and bake for 5 minutes or until aroma just begins to rise; do not over-bake. Remove from oven; cool. (Oven can be turned off at this time.)


For the Tart Crust:


Place butter in the freezer for 1 hour.


With a hand grater or the grating tool of a food processor, grate frozen butter. Remove grating tool from the food processor and install the chopping/pastry blade.


Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Add to the butter in the food processor; pulse for one second 3-4 times until butter is the size of peas.


In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolk and salted caramel vodka or lemon juice; whisk together. Add to the bowl of the food processor; pulse until crust just begins to come together.


Remove from bowl and “mush” together, if necessary, to make a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.


Set out a 9" tart pan with a 1" tall tart ring and removable bottom.


On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out the crust to a 10 ½” circle. Gently fold into fourths and slide into the tart pan. Unfold; ease excess dough into the crust to fill in at edges and to reduce shrinkage. Trim crust level with top of tart pan; prick all over with a fork and refrigerate.


For the Cranberry Jam:


Place the cranberries and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan. Place the saucepan on a burner over low heat and let sit until sugar melts. Once sugar melts, increase temperature to medium and bring to a low boil, stirring often; then increase the temperature to medium high and boil until cranberries begin to split open and jam coats a spoon. OR boil until an instant read thermometer or candy thermometer reaches 220 degrees. Remove from heat; cool.


For the Caramelized Apples:


Melt butter in a large frying pan over low heat. Sprinkle brown sugar on melted butter and let sit on low heat until brown sugar just begins to melt. Then arranged peeled and cored apples slices in a single layer in concentric circles around the frying pan; cook until bottom of apples turns a light brown. Carefully turn apple slices over and continue cooking until apples are lightly browned on both sides and just starting to become translucent. Remove from heat; cool.


For the Pistachio Frangipane Filling:


In a small bowl, combine self-rising flour, baking powder and pistachio flour. Mix until flours and baking powder are evenly distributed throughout.


In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, cream butter and granulated sugar using the paddle attachment. Add eggs and beat until thoroughly combined. Add vanilla and beat in.


Carefully spoon in the flour mix and stir by hand until all ingredients are just combined. Return bowl to stand mixer and mix on a medium-low until batter appears smooth and without lumps.


To assemble:


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a sheet pan in the oven to heat up.


Remove the tart pan and crust from the refrigerator. Spoon cooled cranberry jam onto the crust. With the spoon, gently spread the jam so that it covers as much of the bottom of the crust as possible.


Carefully spoon the filling onto the cranberry jam. Be sure to press the filling to the inside wall of the crust to seal in the jam.


For apples:


Version 1:


If apples are to be slightly embedded within the frangipane filling, place apple slices in concentric circles on top of the filling. Place tart in oven on top of heated baking sheet and bake for 40+ minutes until filling puffs up and becomes set. Remove from oven; cool.


Version 2:


Place tart with cranberry jam and filling in oven on top of heated baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes until filling puffs up and becomes set. Remove from oven and quickly arrange apple slices in concentric circles on top. Return to oven and bake an additional 10 minutes until apples just begin to brown and frangipane filling is set. Remove from oven; cool.


To Finish:


Drizzle caramel ice cream topping on top of cooled tart. Sprinkle chopped pistachios on top.



Version 1. Yum!
Version 2. Yum!

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