When the holiday season rolls around, we tend to up our dessert game. With so many baked goods available, there's a need to make something that wows a crowd who has been nibbling on shortbread and sugar cookies all season. That something? A beautiful, flavorful, (and easier than you think) tart!
So we pitted three food editors against each other for some friendly competition. We tasked them with developing three insanely delicious tarts that are sure to please an overfed holiday crowd with only one requirement: to include Country Crock® Plant Butter with Olive Oil, a dairy-free, plant-based butter that tastes like butter.
From Laura at Delish, a peppermint bark tart that takes our favorite holiday treat and turns it into a decadent (and colorful) tart worthy of your holiday table.
From Kate at Good Housekeeping, a tender pear tart that goes perfectly with that after dinner cup of coffee.
From Trish at Women’s Health, personal peanut butter and chocolate tarts that prove there is no duo more iconic.
Read on to learn more about how these magical holiday tarts came together—and vote for your favorite below.
Vote Here for Your Favorite Tart!
Delish's Christmas Tart: Peppermint Bark Tart
by Laura Rege
We're calling it: Peppermint bark is to winter what pumpkin spice is to fall. It's refreshing, it's festive, and you know you start craving it as soon as the temperatures drop. Typically, I make homemade bark and serve it broken up alongside dessert as a sweet treat to finish the meal. This year I wanted to change the focus from side treat to main dessert, which brought me here.
Turning my favorite treat into an even better dessert wasn’t without its challenges. My goal was to create a tart that combined a crunchy cookie crust with all the flavors we love so much in bark: sweet white chocolate, semisweet dark chocolate, and the invigorating peppermint flavor from crushed candy canes.
I started by making a chocolate cookie crust, topping it with a white chocolate filling, and adding just a drizzle of dark chocolate. It was the total opposite color scheme of what I wished to end up with, and I quickly realized it wasn’t right.
First, I was working with dairy-free white chocolate (you can use any variety if a little dairy doesn't bother you). The white chocolate filling wouldn't set properly. I tried mixing it with coconut milk, coconut oil, and almond milk, and it kept turning grainy. The white chocolate was also cloyingly sweet, and I realized the mistake I had made. The joy of bark is the balance of dark to white chocolate; anything more than a drizzle of white chocolate and it just isn’t the classic bark. Texture-wise and flavor-wise it was time to take a new direction.
My next version, the recipe you see here, is a total win. Instead of a chocolate crust, I made an easy yet totally addictive shortbread crust. I wanted the crunch of the shortbread cookie instead of a pie crust, and I made it a press-in crust which is just so much easier.
To fill the crust, I created a dark chocolate ganache made with Country Crock® Plant Butter with Olive Oil, rather than the usual heavy cream. The combination of Plant Butter and chocolate creates a texture that is so smooth and glossy, the ganache ribboned into the pan when I poured it as if it was meant to be.
For the perfect pop of sweetness, I drizzled it with melted white chocolate—no need to add anything fancy to the white chocolate and risk losing it’s smooth, melted texture. And of course, a final sprinkle of crushed candy canes, which add a festive red and white touch. It’s crazy how just a little candy cane infuses the whole dish with the perfect balance of peppermint flavor.
The final result is a crunchy cookie crust topped with just the right amount of peppermint bark—a dish that is sure to bring a lot of holiday flavor and cheer to any gathering.
Good Housekeeping: Cranberry and Pear Tart
by Kate Merker
My father is truly the king of tarts, and I get my obsessive focus—working and reworking a project until it is perfect—from him. He spent literal years creating this essential crust-meets-cake tart batter, so all I had to do was commit the recipe to memory and co-opt it as my competition dessert. If I’m ever asked to whip up a sweet at a moment’s notice, I toss together a few pantry staples, add any fresh fruit I have on hand (apples! plums! peaches!) and pop it in the oven. Instant crowd-pleaser.
The soft and tender dough is different from a traditional firm, rolled out tart crust, and as it bakes, it rises up around any spaces between the fruit—it is the canvas that allows the ripe fruit to shine. The edges turn a satisfying golden crisp while the inside remains soft and cake-like.
We have eaten every fruit variation of this dessert, and it is served at my family's house nine out of 10 gatherings. (The 10th time is when a guest brings dessert.) So, of course, when I found out we were going head-to-head-to-head in the ultimate tart competition, there was no hesitation in what I was going to make. Plus, the best part is that I didn't need to alter my family's recipe one bit because Country Crock® Plant Butter with Olive Oil works just the same as dairy butter even though it’s plant-based and dairy-free .
To ring in the season, I opted for Bartlett pears and frozen cranberries, then glazed the entire thing with a mixture of apricot jam and orange juice, which adds a show-stopping shine. This beautiful rectangular tart is elegant, festive, and impressive, but I promise, it’s so simple to make. I know it will become your family's go-to dessert, too.
Women's Health: Peanut Butter Chocolate Tart
by Trish Classen
I’m a sucker for chocolate and peanut butter. The combo of salty and sweet satisfies any craving I may find myself facing throughout the holiday season, when the parties are in full swing and desserts are abundant. Fruit tarts, vanilla cakes, and sugar cookies just don’t cut it for me. While a store-bought peanut butter cup can do in a pinch (I have been known to keep them stashed in my bag), I’m always looking for ways to reinvent and elevate the iconic flavor combo.
With so many holiday parties on the horizon, and so many friends now going the way of the plant-based diet (veganism is in, and we’re about it), my mission was to create a decadent vegan, no-fork-required sweet treat that checked all of the flavor boxes for me. Plus, I wanted to keep the recipe approachable with only a handful of ingredients so that all my friends, even those who feel intimidated in the kitchen, could make it. Was it possible to make a rich, peanut butter-filled bite that felt special enough to serve at my best friend’s festive holiday shindig? Turns out, it was.
I started with an oat and coconut crust, mixed with melted vegan chocolate and Country Crock® Plant Butter with Olive Oil. While I struggle sometimes to find vegan recipes that provide the richness I crave, Country Crock’s killer new product, especially when melted, was an amazing sub to dairy butter.
Then, I decided that to add a hint of sophistication, maple syrup and flaky sea salt would do the trick. The maple added just the right amount of sweetness, while boosting the peanut butter filling’s nuttiness, and the salt became the final touch. Any chocolate dessert with a sprinkle of sea salt looks extra elegant.
The result? Instant success! These bites, rich and decadent, had all of my vegan (and non-vegan) friends in awe. And you better believe these little tarts will show up at the next holiday party, too.
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