Cara Cara Orange Curd Tarts

By sally, on January 17th, 2011

It’s safe to say that winter is not my favorite season.  Short and dreary days are just not my thing.  Perhaps it is my Southern California upbringing—where I experienced mostly mild weather—that has made me a wimp when it comes to cold.  I realize that Bay Area winters are a breeze compared to some places, but in the midst of it, I still find myself longing for warmer days.

One of the things I do love about winter though is that it’s citrus season!  It seems odd that these bright and cheerful fruit would make their appearance in winter, but whatever the reason they are certainly a highlight for me.  Those yellow and orange orbs of sweet-tart goodness are fantastic on their own or can brighten up all sorts of recipes.

Given my love for citrus, I was especially excited to find four little Cara Cara oranges in our CSA box this week.  From the outside, Cara Cara oranges look just like navel oranges (they are in fact related), but on the inside the flesh has a beautiful pinkish-reddish hue.   The flavor of the Cara Cara is very sweet and some people claim, more “complex” than a normal navel.  While my palate may not be refined enough to taste the “notes of berry” that others have detected, I knew I had to make something special with these fantastic fruits.   Since I am a big fan of citrus desserts, I thought some tarts would be perfect and would certainly help us get through another cold winter’s day.

Cara Cara Orange Curd Tarts

If you can’t find Cara Cara oranges, feel free to use naval oranges instead.  I ended up making two batches of the orange curd recipe to fill the six mini-tart shells that the graham cracker crust recipe yielded.   If you don’t have mini-tart pans, I would guess that two batches of curd would also be enough to fill a normal sized tart or piecrust.

To assemble the tarts place a few tablespoons of the orange curd in each completely cooled tart crust.  Garnish with a few slices of Cara Cara orange.

Cara Cara Orange Curd

Adapted from Farm Fresh to You

  • Juice from two Cara Cara oranges  (½ – ¾ of a cup)
  • Zest from one Cara Cara orange
  • 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (½ a stick)

Bring the Cara Cara orange juice to a boil in a small saucepan.  Remove the juice from the heat when it has reduced by half (a little more than ¼ cup remaining).  Add the lemon juice and the orange zest to the juice.

While the juice cools, lightly beat together the egg and egg yolks in a small bowl and then stir in the sugar.  When the orange juice has returned to room temperature slowly pour it into the egg mixture, stirring as you pour.

Put the mixture back into the saucepan and heat over a low flame, while stirring the mixture slowly and continuously.  When the mixture thickens to a pudding like consistency and coats the back of a spoon, remove from heat.   For a smooth curd, strain the mixture to capture the zest and any egg bits.


Graham Crack Tart Crust

Adapted from the Joy of Baking

To make graham cracker crumbs, use a rolling pin or a can to crush graham crackers that are locked in a re-sealable plastic bag.

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Heat the oven to 350° and use butter to grease the bottom and sides of your tart pans.  In a medium bowl, mix together the crumbs and sugar.  Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and stir until combined.   Press a few tablespoons of the mixture into the sides and bottom of each tart pan.   Put the tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until the shells are golden.  Cool completely before adding filling.


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