warm spices and a powerful zap of zesty orange and cranberry give this tart all the cozy flavors of the holidays while still keeping a toe in the nontraditional category. The tart is best served at room temperature on the day it’s made, but can also be made a day or two in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Just take it out with plenty of time to take the chill off.
¼ cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon sea salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
alf and half
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 egg, lightly beaten
12 ounces unsweetened cranberry juice
¾–1 cup granulated sugar
Optional: White chocolate, melted
Heat oven to 350°F.
In a small bowl, stir together the molasses, vanilla extract and salt. Stir in the melted butter, then add the flour all at once. Stir until just combined. You should have a very loose dough.
Press the dough all along the base and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Place the tart pan onto a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven.
While the tart crust is baking, bring the half and half and the orange zest to a boil. Place the chopped chocolate and the orange juice in a medium mixing bowl. When the half and half comes to a boil, pour it through a sieve onto the chocolate. Let the hot cream sit for 1 full minute.
After a minute, whisk the cream and chocolate together until smooth and emulsified. Whisk in the beaten egg.
Pour the filling into the still-warm baked tart shell. Bake the tart for 10 more minutes. When the tart is done, it will have just started to set around the edges but will still be a little wiggly in the middle.
To make the topping, bring the cranberry juice and sugar to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan, and then simmer for 5 minutes. (Use the lesser amount of sugar for an extremely tart sauce, the greater amount for a more universally appealing sweetness.) Remove the pan from the heat and pour the sauce into a heatproof bowl. Cool the sauce until it has jelled but is still fluid. Pour the sauce onto the surface of the tart and spread it all the way to the edges. Decorate the top with white chocolate if desired, and then cool everything completely.
When ready to serve, remove the tart ring and place tart on a serving platter.