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Perfect Cranberry Almond Tart

A tart that feels like a refined bar cookie.

Thanksgiving tops our list of holidays- we love the focus on food! This year we managed ten different side dishes and three different dietary restrictions. On a table filled with really, really good food, this cranberry almond tart is still one of the highlights of the feast at our house, and I am sad to be finishing the last of it as I write this. It’s a wonderful cross between a bar cookie and something more elegant, perfect for offsetting the richness of the rest of the meal.

Cranberry Filling & Shortbread

  • 3-1/2 oz. (1 cup) sliced almonds
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 oz. (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs.) fine yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Tbs. packed finely grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
  • 3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Cooking spray
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish (optional)
Cranberry filling:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 12 oz. fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (about 3 cups)
  • 3 Tbs. apricot jam 

Filling Preparation:
  1. Combine the sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup water in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the cranberries and lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the cranberries have popped and the liquid is syrupy, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Stir in the apricot jam and simmer until the jam melts, about 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

Shortbread Preparation:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until warm and fragrant but not yet brown, about 5 minutes; let cool completely.
  2. In a food processor (with at least a 10-cup capacity), combine the nuts with 2 Tbs. of the flour. Pulse until very fine but not powdery, 20 to 25 short pulses. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the remaining flour, the cornmeal, and salt.
  3. In the food processor, combine the butter, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, and almond extract.
  4. Pulse until creamy, 10 to 20 short pulses. Add the egg yolk and pulse a few times to combine. Add the dry ingredients and pulse, scraping down the sides as necessary, just until a soft dough forms, 30 to 40 short pulses. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic and divide.
  5. Lightly coat a round 91/2 x1-inch fluted metal tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray. Press half of the dough evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Form the remaining dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough and the tart shell until very firm, at least 30 minutes.
  6. Prick the bottom of the tart shell all over with a fork and bake on a heavy-duty baking sheet until firm, dry, and just starting to turn golden brown around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. The shortbread will have puffed up during baking, so use the back of a spoon to gently press down the bottom of the crust to create enough space for the cranberry filling. Spoon the filling into the tart and spread evenly.
  7. Crumble the remaining shortbread dough over the cranberries in pebble-like pieces, covering the filling. Bake until the topping is firm and golden-brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  8. Carefully remove the tart rim. Slide a long, flat spatula between the pastry and the pan bottom and transfer the tart to a serving platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if using, just before serving.


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