Fresh cranberries only appear in the supermarkets for a short time leading up to Christmas and just beyond, so it is a good idea to take advantage of their small window of availability using their unique flavour in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes.
As with most edible berries, cranberries work best with sugar to combat the tartness. This makes them ideal for a contrasting flavour in savoury recipes, such as these Caramelised Red Onion and Cranberry Tarts, which balance the sweetness of the berries with the saltiness of the onions and the tang of vegan Camembert cheese.
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Because of the time of year, these tarts make for a great Christmas canapé and can be eaten either hot or cold. Ready-made puff pastry is ideal to make the recipe easy and less time consuming. You can also switch that out for a gluten-free version if you require it.
I used a camembert style vegan cheese for these, which complements the flavour perfectly. The one I used is made by Violife.
These tarts are a very quick and easy dish to make, which is ideal when you’re working on so many other treats for Christmas. You can also make these ahead of time and keep them in the fridge for a couple of days. Just pop them in the oven to heat up again when you’re ready to serve them.
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Caramelised Red Onion and Cranberry Tarts
Just change pastry to make them gluten-free.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 medium red onions peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- A good pinch of salt
- 1 pack 275g fresh cranberries
- 1 tbsp hot smoked paprika or mild if you prefer
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 50 ml water
- 130 g sugar
- 3 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry
- 1 block 150g vegan camembert cheese (or other vegan white cheese)
- Enough vegan milk for brushing
- ½ a cucumber peeled into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler and then cut in half lengthways to create long thin strips
- Heat the olive oil in a small to medium saucepan and gently cook the red onions for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, until they are soft, browned and caramelised. Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes, then season with the salt. Stir through.
- Now add the cranberries, the paprika, cinnamon, water, sugar and vinegar. Bring these up to a gentle simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until you have a jam-like consistency. Allow the sauce to cool a little.
- Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F.
- Line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Lay out your pre-rolled pastry (or roll out to about 4mm thick if using the block version) and use an 8cm cookie cutter to cut your rounds out of the pastry. Place these on the greaseproof paper, leaving a little space in between to allow for expansion. You should get about 9-12 rounds on each tray.
- Important note: you will have plenty of puff pastry left over from the spaces between where you have used the cookie cutter. With shortcrust pastry you can squeeze this back into a ball and roll out again. We are using puff pastry so you must not squeeze it together. The best way is to gently fold the leftover pastry and roll it back out for cutting without disturbing it too much. This will allow you to get more out of your pastry without disturbing the layers. You might not get quite the same rise out of these leftover batches, but it is better than wasting the pastry.
- Use a smaller cookie cutter (about 4.5-5cm wide) and place it in the centre of your rounds. Press the cutter only halfway through the pastry, so that the smaller circle is a score in the pastry rather than a full cut. This is what will give you your rise around the edges of the tart.
- This centre circle is where you will place your filling. Put a teaspoon or two of the filling inside this inner circle. Do this for all the pastry circles you have cut out.
- Now open your vegan camembert cheese. Cut small triangular pieces from the block, approximately the size of your index finger from the 1st knuckle up (smaller than 1 inch), and place each piece on top of the cranberry mix. This will melt over the top of the tart as the pastry is rising.
- Now brush the pastry edges of each tart with the vegan milk.
- Cook the tarts in the oven, either 1 tray at a time or 2 at a time (I did them 1 at a time), for about 20-25 minutes, until they are risen and browned and the cheese has melted. If you’re cooking 2 tray, you will want to swap them over half-way through. Take them out of the oven and place on a cooling rack. Repeat this until all of your pastry and filling are used up.
- Top with the courgette ribbons twisted as in the picture just before serving.
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