cranberry maple tart

Oh, yes. Here we are.

When I was sixteen, my friend Jette and I hopped on a bus to New York late late the night before Thanksgiving. The ride took nearly the whole night, and we arrived in the city just as the sun was starting to come up. We sat on the sidewalk and watched the massive balloons inflate for the Macy’s parade. We wandered the empty city, resting in parks with the pigeons. (I know, I know. What did our mothers say? Honestly, I don’t even remember.)  It was a gray day, and we had no plan. Somehow, we got on a train and ended up at a friend’s house outside of Philadelphia. I don’t remember how we got the invitation, but I do remember sitting at his fancy table with his very proper family, struggling to use my knife and fork correctly. I remember being bleary with sleeplessness and thankful to be in that strange and warm place. I remember that Jette and I were proud of ourselves for stepping out of the lines, for making the holiday an adventure, and for making the holiday our very own.

Four years later, my friend Eilen and I cooked for days, and we invited every straggler we could find. My parents were there too, visiting our woodsy home in Santa Fe. My mother and I were really fighting for the first time in my life, and she kept out of the kitchen. Eilen and I rolled and chopped and baked, and we were grownups in our own kitchen. We, too, made that holiday our own.

We’ve had Thanksgivings with friends and Thanksgivings with family. We have cooked and been cooked for. Every year has been different. But through these years with all of those meals, we are always finding ways to make the holiday our own.

How do you do it?
Have you found traditions that make this one yours?
We have an appreciations box. We learned that one from Gould Farm. Everyone writes down the things they are thankful for, and then we read them. That’s a good one.

I woke up thinking about this tart last week. I made it a few times before I found it. Joey and the girls can attest to this. (It’s a hard life in the kitchen of a food writer) But then I found it.

I thought you might be interested, just in case you haven’t settled on your dessert options for next week. This is easy to put together, and the maple, cranberry, and orange sing to each other in a way that brings out the best in each.

And while we’re at it, shall we take a moment for some dessert inspiration? I’ll give it a go…

Pear pie. Poached quince. Damp gingerbread with pears (I can’t get enough of that one). Indian pudding. Sweet cornmeal biscuits. Apple rhubarb pandowdy. Olive oil and sherry pound cake. Apple pie. Pumpkin Mexican hot chocolate. Buttermilk spice cake. Are we there? Did we find it? Let me know- we can definitely keep the list going.
But in the mean time, let’s have a piece of this one to keep the hunger at bay.




  1. Tess says

    I am trying this one out, it’s in the oven right now. When I baked the crust, it ‘collapsed’, the sides didn’t hold. I hurried to take it out of the oven, rolled it out again while hot and managed to put it into its form again without the crust totally breaking into pieces. I guess I didn’t freeze it long enough? The rest of the recipe went perfect. My kitchen smells divine right now..! I think it’ll be a huge succes. Thank you for the recipe.

    • alana says

      Oh, a collapsed crust! It sounds like you saved it. But my guess was that the crust just wasn’t cold enough when it went into the oven. I’d try actually freezing it next time instead of refrigerating.

    • alana says

      Hi Claire! Orange flower water is a flavoring that’s quite popular in Persian and Middle Eastern cooking, but it’s widely available. It smells wonderful- some people even use it as perfume. If you can’t find it at your store, it’s also easy to find online.

  2. Beth says

    My local store does not carry creme fraiche, but does have mascarpone. Do you think that would work as a substitute? Thanks!excited to make this!

    • alana says

      Beth, there’s no creme fraiche in here- did you mean to leave your comment on the pumpkin pie post? If so, I’d sub in sour cream- that should do it!


  1. […] We’re having a smaller Thanksgiving than usual this year–just family. It’s just worked out that way, as some years do. I’m making just the basics, which for us is turkey, mashed potatoes, a few different kinds of stuffings (repeating this one, which everyone’s been talking about for a full year), and pan fried brussels. Then there’s cranberry sauce (my grandmother’s, which is in The Homemade Pantry if you need a nice simple recipe), and lots and lots of gravy. For dessert there will be pumpkin pie and pear gingerbread (both in the new book), Indian Pudding (my new favorite is from this book), this pecan pie (since you have the Lyle’s for your gingerbread, and if I’ve got extra cranberries, this cranberry tart. […]

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