The holidays call for cranberries in one form or another and I am just not a fan of cranberry sauce.  It should come as no surprise that I choose to meet my holiday cranberry quota with a dessert.  This Cranberry Shortbread Tart is an extra special dessert that will look stunning on your holiday table.

Cranberry Shortbread Tart {}

The perfection of this Cranberry Shortbread Tart is the result of the contrast of flavors.  Rich, buttery shortbread that has the added flavor components of ground, toasted almonds and cornmeal is sandwiched around a tart and tangy cranberry filling and the combination is simply delightful.

Cranberry Shortbread Tart {}

Cranberry Shortbread Tart

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Yield: 1 9-inch tart (serves 12-16)

Bright, tart cranberry filling sandwiched between rich buttery shortbread crust and topping makes a gorgeous and delicious holiday dessert


    For the filling
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp orange marmalade (or you could use apricot jam)
  • For the shortbread crust/topping
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1 Tbsp yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (16 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 large egg yolk


    For the filling
  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar dissolves, this will only take a few minutes.
  2. Then, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries pop and the liquid has thickened into a syrupy consistency.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside to cool while you make the crust/topping.
  4. For the crust/topping
  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  6. Place sliced almonds onto a baking sheet and bake for about 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned and toasted. Turn oven off.
  7. Have a large bowl and food processor ready.
  8. Measure the 2 cups of flour into the large bowl. Take 2 Tbsp of the flour out of the large bowl and put it into the food processor. Into the large bowl, then add the cornmeal and salt. Set aside.
  9. In a food processor, pulse the toasted almonds with the 2 Tbsp of the flour until fine. Pour the almond mixture into the large bowl with the rest of the flour mixture.
  10. Next in the food processor, combine the butter, sugar, orange zest and extracts and pulse until smooth and creamy. Add the egg yolk and pulse to combine.
  11. Add the dry ingredients to the food processor and pulse until a cohesive dough forms.
  12. Coat a 9 1/2 X 1-inch fluted metal tart pan with a removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray. Gently and evenly press half of the dough into the tart pan, pressing the dough up the sides of the pan. Cover the crust with plastic wrap.
  13. Form the remaining dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate both the crust and extra disc of dough for 30 minutes so that it gets firm.
  14. Preheat oven to 325 again.
  15. Place the tart pan onto a baking sheet and prick the dough that is in the tart pan all over. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 35 minutes.
  16. If the crust has puffed up during baking, use the back of a metal spoon to gently push the crust down to make room for the filling.
  17. Pour the filling into the crust and spread evenly.
  18. Use your fingers to evenly crumble the remaining shortbread dough over the top of the filling. The pieces should be large, about the sizes of peas and marbles.
  19. Bake the tart on the the baking pan until the topping is golden brown, about another 30-35 minutes.
  20. Cool completely before carefully removing the rim of the tart pan. Cut and serve.
  21. Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

This Cranberry Shortbread Tart recipe requires several steps but none of them is difficult,  The crumbly topping and crust are the same dough divided in half.  The filling could not be simpler to make, but you just need a little bit of patience as the filling cools and the crust gets popped into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up.  The wait will be worth it, trust me.

Cranberry Shortbread Tart {}

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Yes, Pumpkin Pie is a classic and I will certainly be making one for Thanksgiving next week, but in addition to the classic, I also like to make something with a little twist on the good old pie.

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Sugar Icing are one of my all-time favorite pumpkin recipes and would still satisfy that craving for something pumpkin after turkey dinner.

Apples are probably tied with pumpkin for people’s favorite fall dessert flavor and this Apple Streusel Cake will provide comfort with warm spices and sweet apples.

Slab pies are a great way to still serve pie but without so much fuss.  This blueberry version is calling my name and could be made with frozen blueberries if fresh are not available.

If I’m making something that is not either apple or pumpkin, you know it’s going to be something chocolate like this classic Chocolate Pie from The Pioneer Woman.

Butterscotch is another flavor that makes me think of fall for some reason.  I bookmarked this Pumpkin Butterscotch Spice Cake Trifle and have been dying for an excuse to make it.  Trifles are such awe-inspiring desserts, yet they can be so easy to make.

I LOVE pecan pie maybe more than pumpkin and I am naturally drawn to any pecan dessert that incorporates chocolate into the mix.  These Caramel Pecan Turtle Bars are such a fantastically rich combination.

Tarts are so beautiful and look complicated, but actually are easy to make, especially with step-by-step instructions like in this recipe for a French Pear Tart from The Mediterranean Dish.

Maybe you want to totally step away from classic fall flavors all together and go with a much loved flavor combination:  peanut butter and chocolate.  These Peanut Butter Cup Pots de Creme from Glazed and Confused look dangerously delicious.

Still want to serve pie, but just not pumpkin?  Check out my board on Learnist for 7 other irresistible pie flavors.

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Earlier this month, my favorite recipe that I have inherited from my mom was featured on for Mother’s Day!  These Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Tart is always the dessert that signifies spring’s arrival for me.  What a fun way to honor my mom for Mother’s Day by showing off her recipe.  After all, she is the reason I have such a love of baking. Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Tart {}

This Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Tart is the most perfect shortbread-like crust topped with light and airy, sweet, yet slightly tart custard and it is perfect served alone or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Tart {} My mom was always baking and so there was seldom a lunch or dinner that wasn’t followed by dessert.  If there wasn’t a tray of cookies or a loaf of banana bread still warm from the oven, I could always find a batch of brownies or bars wrapped up in the freezer.  There are pictures of me kneeling on a stool in a teddy bear apron helping my mom make Christmas cookies when I was barely old enough to hold a spoon.  As I grew older, I was always her official taste tester in the kitchen and to this day, when we are together, we can usually be found together in the kitchen.

Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Tart {}

I will be making this favorite family recipe for Memorial Day weekend and sharing it with friends and family at the lake cabin.   CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE for Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Tart.  Have a wonderful long weekend!

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I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and were able to spend quality time with family and friends.  This Thanksgiving I thought about how blessed I am in so many ways.  I also thought about how there are so many people who struggle to put a meal on the table every night and I spend hours going through cookbooks and food magazines trying to find new inspiration and ideas to make because I am bored with the same meals every week.  Let us all remember how fortunate we are that we can be creative with food and be passionate about this hobby that is food blogging.

After so many heavy carbs and overstuffed meals, I was craving something a bit lighter and more refreshing.  This Lemon Tart is really just a glorified version lemon bars, but the best lemon bars you have ever tasted.  In my mind, nothing bad can come from something that starts with a simple, buttery shortbread crust like this tart does.  Topped with light refreshing lemon custard and berries, this tart is just so fresh tasting and beautiful to look at with the bright berries contrasting the pale yellow lemon custard.

The combinations and variations you could do with this tart are really limitless.  If you would prefer, you could use oranges or limes instead of the lemons to make the custard filling.  You could top your tart with a strawberry syrup or simply with whipped cream.  Or you could really emulate the traditional lemon bars by simply dusting some powdered sugar over the top once the tart has cooled.  Any way you choose to modify it, this Lemon Tart is a truly satisfying crowd pleaser.

The Perfect Lemon Tart

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: one 11-inch tart


A perfectly buttery shortbread crust topped with light lemony custard


    For the crust:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (16 Tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • For the custard:
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (juice of 2-3 lemons)
  • To garnish:
  • 1-2 cups fresh berries


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Liberally grease a 11-inch tart pan.
  3. In a food processor, combine all ingredients for crust and pulse until the dough comes together and forms a ball. If necessary, add 1 tsp of water at a time to bring the dough together.
  4. Press dough evenly into tart pan and up sides of pan.
  5. Poke all over with a fork so that steam can be released and bubbles do not form as the crust bakes.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. While the crust is baking, in a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together. Continue whisking while adding the sugar. Add the flour and lemon juice.
  8. When crust has finished baking, pour lemon custard mixture into the crust and return it to the oven for about 10-14 minutes or until the custard has set and is just slightly jiggly in the center. (I like to check it every couple of minutes after about 8 minutes of baking so that the custard does not get over-baked.)
  9. Cool completely and garnish with berries.
  10. Recipe adapted from Heather Christo Cooks

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I know that fall doesn’t officially start until next Saturday, but in my kitchen it was pumpkin, pumpkin and more pumpkin last weekend.  All of the recipes that I made each only called for about 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree, but I couldn’t stand to throw any of it away, so I just kept baking until it was all used up!  That means a week of pumpkin-only recipes!  I figured you might need some new ideas to play around with before Thanksgiving rolls around anyway…..

My best friend since 7th grade, Nikki moved out of state last Saturday and so we went out for dinner with a few girlfriends to wish her well and came back to my house for dessert.  I wanted to make something from the new cookbook by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito called Baked Elements.  I have the other two Baked books and so I was so excited to receive a copy of their latest book to review.

The cookbook is organized by their favorite 10 ingredients, such as chocolate, caramel, booze and peanut butter.  There are so many amazing recipes from this cookbook that I will be sharing with you in the weeks to come because I literally want to make every one of them!  The book is filled with beautiful photos that will make you drool and a witty introduction to each recipe draws you in even more.  Whether you own Matt and Renato’s first two books, Baked Explorations and Baked:  New Frontiers in Baking, I highly recommend you pick yourself up a copy of their latest book.  How great would a set of all three of the Baked books be to give as a gift??

I saw a recipe in this book for Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars, and although I am not a cheesecake lover, I do enjoy the combination of pumpkin pie flavors with cream cheese, so I decided to use some of the recipe components and put my own spin on it as well.  I wanted to make a tart because I am a sucker for graham cracker crusts.  I also love the combination of pumpkin and cinnamon so I decided to base my tart on a cinnamon graham cracker crust.  I like my graham cracker crust to almost be thicker than what is inside it, and this recipe gave me just that.

The filling for this Pumpkin Cream Cheese Tart is a layer of spiced pumpkin whipped with cream cheese and topped with a traditional cream cheese frosting.  The result will remind you of a pumpkin pie with the smooth consistency and perfectly spiced flavor, but the cinnamon graham cracker crust will trick you into thinking you are eating a full-blown cheesecake.  Call it cheesecake.  Call it a tart.  I don’t care what you call it, just call it made.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Tart with Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crust and Baked Elements Cookbook Review
Recipe type: Dessert, Fall, Tart
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
Perfectly spiced pumpkin cream cheese filling on top of a thick cinnamon graham cracker crust
  • For the crust
  • 12 whole cinnamon graham crackers
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • For the pumpkin filling
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened (could use ⅓ less fat cream cheese)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup, plus 1 Tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp vanilla bean paste (or ½ tsp vanilla extract)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp EACH, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, allspice
  • For the cream cheese topping
  • 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  1. For the crust
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch tart pan.
  3. Place graham crackers into a food processor and pulse until crushed into a fine powder.
  4. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse until combined.
  5. Press graham cracker mixture into tart pan, pressing up around the sides slightly.
  6. Bake 15 minutes, remove from oven and set aside.
  7. For the pumpkin filling
  8. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  9. In the same bowl of the food processor (or another bowl with an electric mixer), beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
  10. In a separate small bowl, combine pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice.
  11. Add pumpkin mixture to cream cheese and pulse to combine.
  12. Pour mixture into crust and bake 18 minutes.
  13. Cool on wire rack.
  14. For the cream cheese topping
  15. In a small bowl, beat butter and cream cheese until combined. Add other ingredients and beat until smooth.
  16. Spread over pumpkin filling and refrigerate at least 2 hours before removing from pan,cutting and serving.
  17. Recipe adapted from Baked Elements

for the crust, process graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until combined

press into greased tart pan and bake

for the pumpkin filling, beat cream cheese and sugar together until smooth

in a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice

add pumpkin mixture to cream cheese and beat to combine

pour into crust and bake

make cream cheese topping and spread over pumpkin layer, refrigerate, cut and serve

*A copy of Baked Elements was provided to me by Stewart, Tabori & Chang (Abrams Publishing), but all opinions are, as always, my own.


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