cranberry shortbread tart

Cranberry Shortbread Tart

Come this time of year, when bag after bag of cranberries shimmer their ruby red presence all over my favorite grocery stores, I rack ’em up and use them any way I can. In fact, I usually keep a bag or two in my freezer for when it’s mid-winter and I need that cranberry kick in a bunch of scones or in a hot bowl of oatmeal. However, as we’re well into November and quickly approaching December, I make my favorite cranberry recipe – the quintessential cranberry sauce – quite often. In fact, I make it like it’s going out of style. What do I eat it on? Turkey? Chicken? Mixed into oatmeal? Nine times out of ten, I just eat it by the spoonful. I love cranberry sauce that much. Do my stomach, esophagus, and teeth enjoy this acidic treat? I’ve never bothered to ask them, nor do I care.

That being said, I oft have an extra bowl or bag of it in the back of my fridge, and I don’t want it to go to waste.

cranberry shortbread tart

Come the holidays, we all eat our fair share of delicious dishes, but let’s be honest: we waste some of it. It’s not ideal, but it happens. We end up pitching some of that leftover turkey in the trash. Some of those roasted veggies may end up in the compost bin. It’s always best to re-purpose leftovers, if possible. Don’t waste that precious cranberry sauce if it’s been languishing in the back of your fridge for a few days. Breathe some life back into it by layering it onto a delicious buttery shortbread crust.

cranberry shortbread tart

I love this tart because it’s a little freeform, a little rustic, and a little messy, too. Don’t wear light colors while eating this and have a few napkins handy. 😉

cranberry shortbread tart

Cranberry Shortbread Tart
(Makes 9 – 12 slices…well, depending on how you slice it!)

Ingredients:

– 2 cups fresh cranberry sauce, chilled (Please see Before We Get Started…)
– 1 cup flour
– 1 stick butter (traditional or vegan), chiiled and cubed or frozen to grate (Please see Before We Get Started…)
– 1/3 cup sugar
– 1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher

Before We Get Started…

– DO NOT USE CANNED JELLIED CRANBERRY SAUCE FOR THIS RECIPE! Yes, this statement is worth the caps lock.

– If you do not have leftover cranberry sauce and are making this dish completely from scratch, please follow the directions on your bag of cranberries to create a sauce. It’s basic and you can’t go wrong!

– Also, if making fresh cranberry sauce, you can alter it as you please. I prefer to boil my cranberries in either 3/4 cup apple cider or orange juice (whichever I have at the time) and 1/4 cup water. Due to this, I cut the sugar down to about a 1/4 cup instead of the traditional 1 cup the average cranberry sauce recipe recommends; said average recipe recommends boiling them in water, which does not have additional sugar in it. (Am I  perhaps stating the obvious? Ha!) What’s great about making homemade cranberry sauce is the fact that you can easily control the amount of sugar that’s in it.

– My way of cutting butter into flour involves grating it with a cheese grater, a method I have mentioned a few times in this blog. Please refer to my Orange Ginger Scones recipe for more specifics. This method is a godsend! 

– I have made vegan shortbread in the past using Earth Balance, and it has worked! That being said, I haven’t tried it for this specific recipe. If you feel inclined, substitute Earth Balance or your favorite vegan “butter” for the traditional butter in this recipe; likewise, use your own favorite vegan shortbread recipe, if you please! I’ve read many blogs that state that using coconut oil makes for a tasty version. 🙂

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 8″ x 8″ x 2″ baking pan with parchment paper; fit to bottom of pan and allow 1″ – 2″ of paper hang off of the sides, as this will allow you to easily lift the tart from the pan when it’s finished. Set pan aside.

2.) In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter; combine with hands or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembled a fine meal. Evenly press mixture into the bottom of the baking pan; using the bottom of a bottle or a measuring cup can help ensure an even surface.

3.) Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and place on wire rack to cool.

4.) Once shortbread is cooled, spoon cranberry sauce on top and spread evenly. (If making cranberry sauce from scratch and not using pre-made / leftover cranberry sauce, allow sauce to cool before placing on shortbread.) Place in refrigerator for one hour before serving. Remove from fridge, and carefully lift tart out of pan by the parchment paper’s edges. Cut and serve.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

A shortbread cookie is a wonderful thing. I enjoy them. I’ve definitely made them before. When it came time to look for dessert recipes to make for nine people on Easter while concurrently baking a ham, mashing potatoes, roasting asparagus, and mixing mac and cheese, the simplicity of a shortbread cookie recipe won once again!

easter cookie overhead shot

These cookies were a huge hit, thank goodness.

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After five hours of cooking and baking that afternoon, I’m surprised I still have the desire to even look at food photos from that day. Ha!

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Resisting the urge to nibble on the batch was hard, but I managed. Though, I did have to scold one friend for stealing one before the dinner. Lovingly, but of course.

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A sloppy Jackson Pollack-esque drizzle of multi-colored options made it a sweeter affair. Who doesn’t love a pop of color along with a tart buttery cookie?

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Lemon Shortbread Cookies
(Makes 12 – 16 cookies)
(Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit’s recipe for Lemon Shortbread Cookies)

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
– 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
– 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
– 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– Generous pinch of kosher or sea salt

Before We Get Started…

– This recipe is a great example of a “no electric mixer needed!” recipe. I currently don’t have an electric hand mixer, and with all of the cacophony of an Easter Dinner happening in my tiny Manhattan kitchen, I was not about to drag out the Kitchen Aid to make just a dozen cookies. If your butter is soft enough at room temperature, you can cream the sugar and confectioners’ sugar by hand and still get a great shortbread. So, if you are mixer-less, do not fret! You’ll still end up with a great cookie. I guarantee it!

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°F.

2.) In a large bowl, beat butter at a low to medium speed until fluffy. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar and combine well. Add in lemon peel, lemon juice, and vanilla and beat until combined.

3.) Mix (or preferably sift together) flour and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until combined.

For rolled and cut cookies:

– On top of parchment paper or on a floured board or sheet pan that can fit in your fridge, roll out dough until approximately 1/4″ thick. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. After removed from fridge, cut cookies to preferred shapes. Move onto a lightly greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to cooling rack.

For hand-rolled cookies:

– Place bowl on dough in fridge for 20 minutes. After removing from fridge, roll dough between hands to form approximately 1″ balls. Flatten with hands until dough is approximately 1/4″ thick. (Eyeball it). Place onto a lightly greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to cooling rack.

shortbread

Shortbread

The origins of Valentine’s Day are quite widespread and fairly muddled, though, anyone interested in history knows it wasn’t always centered around Dove chocolate hearts and bouquets given to women because of some kind of societal obligation.

“From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain. The Roman romantics ‘were drunk. They were naked,’ says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile. The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.” [npr.org]

Well, with that being said, let’s make some cookies!

shortbread

I love shortbread, being a person that loves savory over sweet. The buttery crumb of a good piece of shortbread will win me over compared to any other cookie out there.

shortbread

It’s a perfect base for any kind of chocolate or sugary coating.

shortbread

My inner child was getting a bit overzealous. Well, I am the daughter of an artist…

shortbread

Shortbread
(Makes 1 dozen cookies)

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus 1/2 tablespoon to butter baking pan
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 cup sugar

Before We Get Started…

– Growing up, I habitually pressed my shortbread into the shape of a circle, then cut it into triangles. Habitually, this is what I still do when making shortbread! However, dough can be pressed into whichever shape you prefer. Also note that the dough does not have to take up the entire area of the baking pan; mine is usually a 8″ circle of dough placed on a 13″ x 9″ baking pan.

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter a 13″ x 9″ baking pan and set aside.

2.) In a medium bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer, on medium speed, for approximately two to three minutes or until butter is fluffy and lightened in color. Add sugar and beat for an additional two minutes.

3.) Combine flour and salt; sift the two together, if possible. Add flour mixture to the butter and sugar, beating on low for one to two minutes or until mixture begins to stick together and resemble pebbles. Remove mixer and use hands to combine the dough into a firm ball.

4.) Press dough onto buttered baking pan, making sure the thickness is uniformly 1/4″.

5.) Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes or until edges start to turn a light brown. Remove from oven and place baking sheet on a cooling rack. Once the shortbread has cooled, cut into smaller pieces.

6.) If decorating with glaze, combine 1 cup confectioners’ sugar with approximately 2 tablespoons of water or milk. Add food coloring, if desired. Drizzle or dip cookies into glaze. Place cookies on cooling rack and allow to fully dry.