I have a little confession to make: I love Martha Stewart. As in my favorite day of the month is when the new Martha Stewart Living issue is available. And I have all past issues archived by month in which I re-read them every year (I used to make fun of my mom for doing this). And there is inevitably a conversation each month between my sister and I that goes something like this "have you seen the recipe on page 59 of the new Martha Stewart? I am dying to make it!". I used to be embarrassed of my love for all things Martha. Perhaps because I spent a significant amount of time during my adolescence giving Rachel crap for thinking Martha was so amazing. So I would use the self-check out line to make my purchase, I hid the magazines when friends came over, and when I had dinner parties and someone would ask where I found the recipe for the chocolate souffle I would say I stumbled upon it on the internet .
Okay, now that I got that out on the table lets talk about curd, which by the way, I have always thought is such a terrible word for something so deliciously tart, sweet, and buttery. And for our Wisconsin audience, no, I am not talking about squeaky cheese curds here. I am referring to what most people have had in lemon form. Lemon curd is made from a custard of lemons juice and zest, egg yolks, butter and sugar. The consistency is like if pudding married jam and they had a kid. I could eat it by the spoon full, but I have also been known to spread it on scones, pour it over ice cream or use it as a dip for shortbread cookies. It is actually quite easy to make, but while you wait for it to cook you could always run over to Trader Joes and pick up a jar to tide you over.
I love putting a twist on classic recipes So when I saw a recipe for cranberry curd in the November issue of Martha Stewart I made it that night. Although as a purist, lemon will always be my favorite flavor of curd, this cranberry curd is outstanding! The bright red color makes it a perfect addition to any holiday table (or valentines day treat). The original recipe called for the curd to be spooned into pecan shortbread cookie cups (pictured at the very bottom). We thought they were pretty tasty around our house, but not as good as what I did next. I still had about a cup of cranberry curd leftover, and happened to have a lot of heavy cream on hand (by the way, this will be a common theme around here, the heavy cream on hand that is), and so I whipped up a quick dessert by blending the two together. The result was fantastic, tart cranberry curd with the rich buttery unsweetened whipped cream - it should have fed 6 people, but our home of two had no problem polishing it off in one sitting (this will also will be a theme around here, speaking for both sisters).
Since the premise of "Hey Sis Try This" will be that one sister cooks something, and the other rebuttals, I also threw in a recipe for shortbread cookies (my take on cookies this week) jazzed up with orange and saffron because I thought the orange hue of the cookie would pair well with the bright red pot de creme. Speaking of pot de creme, that's a fancy french word for fluff, you can call it would ever you want as long as you make and eat this immediately.
Note: I forgot I am now a food blogger. My style of cooking is usually throw some stuff together, think it is the best meal I've ever made and then realize I have no idea what I did so can never recreate it. I am going to give you the recipe for the cranberry curd that is from Martha Stewart Living. I am pretty sure I did a 2:1 ratio of whipped cream:cranberry curd - you can play around with it, adding a little bit at a time until you are satisfied with the flavor and texture. And yes, you could substitute cool whip, but I recommend you kick that habit and start whipping cream fresh. Fresh whipped cream not only impresses your friends but it also blows that frozen mystery white stuff out of the water when it comes to flavor.
Cranberry Curd Pot de creme
Serves 4, plus extra cranberry curd
Adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Living November 2013
4 Cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup fresh orange juice, from about 3 oranges (I used cara cara oranges because they are amazing, try them, seriously)
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 Large egg yolks, plus 1 whole egg
2 cups cold cream, see note above (sometimes cream is labeled whipping cream and sometimes heavy cream, either will work. The only difference is that heavy cream has a slightly higher milkfat content, something I welcome with open arms)
Chopped pecans for garnish
For the curd: Place cranberries, water, and orange juice in a saucepan, cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cranberries burst. Martha said this would take about 35 minutes but it only took me about 15. Then I was worried that they weren't actually "bursted" the way she wanted them and cooked them another 5 minutes or so until I decided they were done, just a little warning. Press through a fine sieve, scraping back of sieve to get all the pulp. Again, Martha said you should have about 1 3/4 cups, the first time I made this recipe I had barely more than a cup, but the second time I had exactly 1 3/4 cups. I assume it depends on how juicy your cranberries are. If you come up with less, I would recommend adjusting the amount of sugar and butter you add. Cook the strained pulp in pan with butter, sugar, and salt over medium heat, stirring, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved, about 7 minutes.
Whisk together egg yolks and egg in a medium bowl, then whisk in cranberry mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time to avoid scrambling the eggs. Return mixture to pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 8 minutes. I was nervous the first time I made curd because I didn't know what I was looking for in terms of thickening. It should start to feel thick, but not too thick ( that's helpful, I know). Remember, you will be chilling this before eating so it will thicken more in the cooling process. Chill the cranberry curd for at least 30 minutes.
For the pot de creme: Whip the cold cream either by whisking by hand (lots of work), or using a hand mixer/stand mixer (much easier). You want the final whipped cream product to hold a stiff peak when you dip your finger in to it, which you will subsequently lick. For this recipe I think that unsweetened whipped cream is perfect, but if you prefer a slightly sweeter dessert you can mix in a tablespoon or two of sugar before you start whipping. If you have never whipped cream by hand I would start by making sure everything is very cold, including the bowl and the whisks you will be using. Place the cream in the bowl and whisk vigorously, or turn on your hand mixer to high speed and beat the cream, stopping occasionally to test the consistency.
Place 1 cup cranberry curd in a large bowl, and gently fold in the cream, saving a couple dollops for garnish. Now you can decide if you like the consistency, and can either add more curd, or whip more cream and add that to the mixture. Divide the pot de creme among four small jars, garnish with additional whipped cream and chopped pecans, chill for 2 hours and serve with orange-saffron shortbread cookies.
Orange-Saffron Shortbread Cookies
1 batch of shortbread cookie dough from your favorite recipe
1/8 teaspoon saffron, anymore than this and the cookies have to much saffron flavor
Zest of 3 oranges
Make the shortbread cookie dough according to your favorite recipe, mixing in the orange zest and saffron with the sugar before you add it. Bake the shortbread according to the recipes instructions.