November 27, 2010

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Cranberry White Chocolate Crostata

Are you aware of the delight that is cranberries?

As someone whose main exposure to these seasonal beauties consisted of a yearly devouring of the canned, jellied cranberry sauce, I was not. Now, while I’ve got nothing against the canned sauce—it’s practically my favorite part of Thanksgiving—cranberries have so much more potential.

Delicious potential.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. Since the main types of crostata filling seem to be either fruit preserves or pastry cream, I was intrigued by the idea of combining the two.

At first, all I knew was that I wanted the final product to include cranberries. Then I popped over to FoodPairing, which lets you choose an ingredient and then produces a family tree of other foods that go well with your original ingredient—genius! In this case, I learned that cranberries pair beautifully with white chocolate, which sounded almost too good to be true, what with white chocolate being so freaking amazing and all. From there, it was just a question of assembling all the yum-tastic pieces of a maddeningly delicious puzzle.

First I grabbed a bag of gorgeously fresh cranberries…

…a cup of apple juice…

…and a cup of brown sugar.

With those three items I had all my ingredients for cranberry preserves! You just toss ‘em in a pot and let them simmer away for about 15 minutes.

Ohmygosh, that stuff smells so good!

After the preserves had cooked, I poured them into a container and let them chill out in the fridge.

Then came the time to make pasta frolla, a.k.a. awesomeness in tart form. Beyond the regular components of a tart or pie dough—like flour, butter, salt, and water—pasta frolla is made with…


Just as I was looking over the recipe to list everything that goes into pasta frolla—namely superfine sugar, all-purpose flour, salt, butter, lemon zest, and egg—I have realized that I made a major boo-boo with this one. The recipe says to use 1/2 cup of superfine sugar or 3/4 cup powdered sugar.

I used both.

What truly astonishes me about this culinary goof is the fact that my dough still turned out beautifully.

I don’t know how I should feel about this.

I’m not one for using emoticons in proper blog writing but…


Before we start pondering all the reasons behind the strangely miraculous pasta frolla, let’s move on to the pastry cream. Firstly, I was majorly excited to get to use a real vanilla bean for the first time. Majorly. Excited.

What’s really cool about using vanilla beans is the fact that you can repurpose them after removing the yummy insides. Just pop those pods into a container of granulated sugar and you’ve got vanilla-infused sugar—delish!

So, to continue on with the pastry cream, I heated the vanilla with some milk…

…meanwhile combining two eggs and some cornstarch, sugar, and salt.

Slowly whisking to combine, I added that into the pan with the vanilla and milk, heating until thickened.

Then came the time for white chocolate! It was as simple as placing some white chocolate chips in a bowl and pouring the hot liquid on top of them, stirring until melted. In this case, I went a bit off-recipe and added more chocolate chips than it called for because—duh!—you can never have too many chocolate chips. In fact, if I were to make it again, I’d add even more.

After rolling out the magical pasta frolla and poking a few holes in the bottom…

…I poured in the pastry cream…

…and piped some lines of cranberry preserves inside…

…using a toothpick to make a little design.

Again, were I to make this again, I’d add even more cranberry preserves as well. That stuff was altogether too delicious.

From there it was just a quick bake in the oven and voila! Crostata!

Personally, I found this dessert lovely, but my version needed a little more punch. Everything sort of blended together—in a sugary, creamy, delicious way, mind you—but blended nonetheless. I think it would be a simple question of adding a few more copious dollops of those heavenly cranberry preserves to really take it over the top.

Now, if you’d like to read more about this month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge or find the pasta frolla recipe, just head on over the Daring Kitchen’s information packet all about it. Head over here for the white chocolate pastry cream and here for the cranberry preserves. I’d hate to sound biased in the face of all these wonderful recipes, but make those cranberry preserves now!!

I’m obsessed and I need other cranberry geeks to gush with.


  1. Greetings from Wisconsin, home of the Cranberry. We even have Cranberry festivals up here!! Love what you did with your challange!

  2. Your ingredients all look so fresh! I love cranberries so I know that I would be a huge fan of this tart. I recently had a superfine/confectionary sugar mix up and everything worked out good for me too!

  3. This is probably the most beautiful crostata I've seen for this month challenge! Totally love the combo cranberries-white chocolate!

  4. I have to admit that your photos are stunning and the final corstata looks outstanding I love the pattern you got. And the flavour combination sounds delicious well done on this challenge.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  5. Not only it looks beautiful, but the ingredients promise a really great taste.
    Too bad I can't find fresh cranberries here in Italy

  6. Ooooh, I second that emoticon. Yum! What a fantastic combination, and the end result looks amazing.

  7. That's a gorgeous looking crostata. And the combination of pastry cream, white chocolate and cranberries sound so delicious, excellent job!

  8. Nyum nyum nyum nyum. I love that picture of the cranberries - they look like jewels. I only ever seem to cook with them once a year (cranberry sauce on Christmas Day), so you've inspired me to make a cranberry preserve. It sounds delicious & cranberry/white chocolate are just so lovely together. Your crostata looks beautiful!

  9. Well now, that does sound amazing! And from the looks of it too, I'd say you beat the challenge! Good job!

  10. You had me at Delicious potential:)

  11. Waow, this is a very good-looking and surely delicious crostata!
    The design on top looks sooo professional :-)

  12. This looks really delicious Koci! ¡Fantástica!

  13. That looks just beautiful! I am checking the recipe for the white chocolate pastry cream right now. Yum.

  14. Awesome job, both with the flavor combination and with the presentation!

  15. It looks like you hit a bullseye with this month's challenge! I bet the tart and the sweet worked very well together, and it looks beautiful too!

  16. Looks stunning - it's a great design. Bet it tasted delicious too - cranberries are great.

  17. Such a beautiful crostata, Koci. Congrats and I'm bookmarking your for the recipe!

  18. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that fresh cranberries are a new food to me. I just bought some this Thanksgiving and LOVE them! I can only imagine how fantastic this crostata is...your festive filling rocks!

  19. that's so pretty, great idea with the "web" design

  20. It's almost too pretty to eat! I change my mind... can I have a slice???

  21. those cranberries are so beautiful, and the vanilla bean...awesome!!! this really does look gorgeous!!!

  22. Waht a beautiful crostata you made! The flavor sounds great

  23. I clicked through to your post from the forums because we wound up with pretty similar crostadas! I did a less-inspired cheesecakey version of the tart and I'm a bit curious, as I've never really used white chocolate. The cream cheese gives it that tangy flavor that I love...does white chocolate accomplish anything similar? Or does it taste sweet and vanilla-y (which would also be delicious of course!)

  24. What a beautiful crostata! I really like your choice of filling and that luscious combo.



  25. woah. simply woah. i am a huge huge huge fa of white chocolate. this looks so yummy. was it super sweet?

  26. @bakercoz: Wisconsin is home of the cranberry? Awesome! I'll be booking my plane ticket in the morning. :D

    @Marisa: Yay for more cranberry fans! Regarding the sugar conundrum, I'm beginning to suspect that you can never have enough of the stuff. ^.^

    @Sara: Thank you!!

    @Audax: Thanks! The design got a little hurried towards the end since I was getting a little hungry, but all's well that ends well.

    @Dajana: Oh no! They're actually pretty hard to find here in the U.S. any time except for the fall. All the more reason to eat as much as possible when they are in season!

    @Amanda: Thank you! :)

    @chef_d: Thanks!

    @Please Do Not Feed the Animals: Thanks a lot! :D

  27. @Suzler: Thanks!! I must warn you to be careful with the cranberry will be eating them with a spoon straight out of the fridge in the wee hours of the morning. :D

    @Amanda Hawkins: Thank you!

    @Zita: Cranberries are full of it!

    @sweetartichoke: Thank you! It's amazing what can be accomplished with a plastic bag of preserves and a toothpick. ^.^

    @Becky: Gracias. :D

    @nikki: Thank you!!

    @Ivayla: Thanks!

    @Mary: Thanks! The tart cranberries were lovely with all the sweetness.

    @Poires au Chocolat: Aren't they the yummiest? Thanks!

    @UFRV: Thank you! Hope you like it! :)

    @baking.serendipity: I only tried them for the first time last year! Delicious stuff!

    @KV: Thank you!

    @A Spicy Perspective: Absolutely! I've already munched waaay too much on this thing. :D

    @manigabella: I can't even tell you how excited I was about using a real vanilla bean. They're so amazing!

    @crumbsoflove: Thank you!

    @Amanda: Oooh, I like your crostata! I'm a cheesecake fanatic, so it's right up my alley. ^.^

    As far as the pastry cream goes, the white chocolate made things very smooth and very sweet, which was why I liked the cranberry combination. They add such a nice punch through all the creamy stuff.

    @Rosa: Thanks! :)

    @Damaris: Thank you! The white chocolate filling was sweet, but actually pretty mild. Definitely not too sugary.

  28. OMG!! This sounds so delish! Beautiful design!

  29. This crostada is beautiful! I love the combination of cranberries and white chocolate, this sounds absolutely heavenly!

  30. Koci-What a gorgeous crostata. Love the cranberry elegant, and I can only imagine how sinfully delicious!
    Will bookmark this recipe, to use.
    Thanks for sharing!

  31. I, too, am enamored with the cranberry and Thanksgiving we had a Chocolate Cranberry Tube Cake ala Martha Stewart:
    The chocolate glaze finished off a very pretty bundt cake and the cranberries moistened the cake. Your crostada sounds great! Keep the cranberry recipes coming!

  32. Wow, that's a beautiful crostata. I had a great with this challenge and it looks like you did too!

  33. that looks so pretty and sounds so yummy! love the spider web affect and flavors!

  34. Well, that's just about one of the best-looking things I've seen in a long time. That is a stunningly good shot!

    And yeah, I'll bet it tasted pretty danged good, too.

  35. This is a beautiful crostata. I am wondering if you know about suminagashi, the art of Japanese marbling. Your design reminds me of one of its patterns. Nice job on the challenge.

  36. Now, THIS is what I call beautiful! SO BEAUTIFUL is the swirled top, and the dough looks perfect!


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