cranberry, caramel and almond tart

It’s taken some time, but I have finally come to the conclusion that I am simply not very skilled at tart doughs. Yes, me, the girl who loves making bread and pasta and pretty much anything in the world that starts with kneading and gathering. Hey, I never said I was good at it.

These shrunk too much, these tore and crumbled, these not only shrunk but got tattered, this had to be pasted together in scraps and, you guessed it, this one went on a big diet in the oven as well. The thing is, you might look at the pictures and not know that the recipes were teetering on the edge of disaster, but that’s because you don’t know about all the filling that went to waste because they no longer fit after a par-baking. I’ve tried everything–pricking the doughs and weighting the doughs and freezing the doughs and sacrificing countless boxes of butter and hours of my life to the doughs and closing my eyes in a brief prayer before checking on their baking status but still, they fight me every time.

tartlet pansarranging the tart doughgorgeous, golden caramelcranberries

Typically, I blame the recipe. I mean, wouldn’t you? It’s not like it can fight back (unless you get those commenters who say ‘but I made that recipe and mine came out perfectly!’ and I’m all ‘shhh! I don’t want to know that!’). But eventually you get to the point where you know that if you post another entry about the shoddy tart dough that someone is going to have your number. It might as well be me.

After my last cry for pate brisee help after my biggest disaster to date, I decided it time to, once and for all, stop fighting the tart dough timeline. Take it slow, stop lopping corners off the chilling and re-chilling time, following a recipe from a respected tart-maker to the exact letter.

I hope you are not here for happy endings, because I’ve got two cups of carefully-prepared filling in the fridge waiting for a tart shell that doesn’t shrink. Oh, and it turns out it’s not just me that faced a horribly shrunken crust on this recipe. (Why, why why does he not call for the shell to be weighted when par-baked?)

cranberry, caramel and almond tartletscranberry, caramel and almond tartletcranberry, caramel and almond tartletcranberry, caramel and almond tartlet

Fine, I lied when I said there would be no happy ending. These tartlets are one of the best things I have ever made. Seriously, it goes in the top ten, no, top five. This caramel, cranberry and almond tart from Maury Rubin at the City Bakery, a place I love more than anybody should (but I’ll get to why on a day that I am not boring you with incredibly shrinking crusts) is pure holiday decadence. If you’re bored of standard Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts, or you just want to show off a new instant classic, you have to make it this winter.

The caramel is to die for and plays off the tart/sour cranberries and nestles against the almonds and I guarantee your first thought after you are done sighing with delight will be (no, not “this would benefit from some chocolate chips” as you just know my husband said) “why haven’t I thought of this before?”

But you’re on your own with the crust. Or, you will be until some of those helpful commenters start chiming in with tart advice. No pressure, people, but future of flawless Thanksgiving desserts rests in your hands. And… GO!

cranberry, caramel and almond tartlet

Cranberry, Caramel and Almond Tart
Adapted Maury Rubin, City Bakery

Yields: 1 9-inch tart or 12 4-inch tartlets

13 tablespoons (1 stick plus 5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon heavy cream

1. Let the butter sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, until malleable.

2. Place the powdered sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the pieces of butter and toss to coat. Using a paddle attachment with a standing mixer, combine the sugar and butter at medium speed, until the sugar is no longer visible.

3. Add the egg yolk and combine until no longer visible.

4. Scrape down the butter off the sides of the bowl. Add half of the flour, then begin mixing again until the dough is crumbly. Add the remaining flour and then the cream and mix until the dough forms a sticky mass.

5. Flatten the dough into a thick pancake, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours before preparing to roll out the dough.

6. Lightly butter a 9-inch pastry ring (or fluted tart pan) and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a nonstick Silpat pad.

7. Once the dough has thoroughly chilled, cut it in half, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat, until you have 16 equal pieces. Work quickly with the dough so that it remains chilled. Sprinkle your work surface with a thin layer of flour. Knead the pieces of dough together until it forms one new mass and shape it into a flattened ball. Flour a rolling pin and sprinkle flour again on the work surface underneath the dough. Roll out the dough into a circle one-eighth-inch thick.

8. To easily transfer the dough into the ring or tart pan, fold it in half gently, then in quarters. Move the folded dough to the tart ring or pan, with the point of the dough in the center, then unfold it, gently patting the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the ring. Trim the edges so that they are flush with the top of the ring. Dock the dough with a pastry docker or prick the dough all over with a fork.

9. Put the baking sheet and pastry ring into the freezer for 1 hour.

10. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the baking sheet and ring in the oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the dough is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before filling.

Filling and assembly

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into eight pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup frozen cranberries
2 cups unblanched sliced almonds

1. Keep (or preheat) the oven to 350 degrees. Measure the cream and butter into a saucepan and heat it over low heat. When the butter has melted completely, remove from heat.

2. To make the caramel, spread the sugar evenly in a perfectly dry, deep 10-inch skillet and place it over medium-low heat.

3. The sugar should turn straw-colored, then gold and then a nutty-brown caramel after about 10 minutes. If the sugar cooks unevenly, gently tilt or swirl the pan to evenly distribute the sugar. Remove from heat and slowly whisk the cream and butter into the sugar, which can splatter as the cream is added (long sleeves are a good precaution). If the caramel seizes, return it to the heat and continue to stir until it is smooth and creamy. Strain the caramel into a bowl and cool it for 30 minutes.

4. Stir the frozen cranberries and the almonds into the caramel and mix until all the fruit and nuts are coated. Spoon the filling into the partially baked tart dough mounding toward the center.

5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the juices and the caramel are bubbling slowly around the edges. Remove from the oven and let stand for 1 hour, then gently lift the tart ring off the pastry.

6. Carefully transfer the tart to a serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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186 comments on cranberry, caramel and almond tart

  1. Oh dear! I’ve been trying out all kinds of tarts recently, and I have to say that the jamie oliver one seems to work out very well indeed. Maybe I’ll post on it soon!

  2. I think these are some of the most gorgeous photos I’ve ever seen here! I’m duly impressed overall. I’ve never thought of putting cranberry and caramel together. I’m so ready for Thanksgiving now!

    And I can’t do doughs, period. My hands are too hot; or that’s what my mom says. Hers are hot, too, and she’s never been much of a bread-baker as a result! Hot mamas are we.

  3. Oh My Drool! :D :D

    Now I know what I’m making for my holiday baking swap I’m going to in a few weeks. These will knock everyone’s socks off! Thanks so much for the inspiration Deb! :)

  4. Courtney

    Do you think pecans would work instead of almonds? I’m not a *huge* almond fan. Also is there a reason for frozen vs. fresh cranberries? This looks awesome – definitely want to try for Thanksgiving.

  5. Those look amazing. Honestly, right now, I’m a slave to deserts. Especially fruit ones that have a bit of tart, sourness to the recipe.

    PS..Thanks for the left column shout out. You don’t know how honored I am that you think me worthy.

  6. Emily

    This looks amazing — I’m also wondering —

    1) could I use fresh instead of frozen cranberries
    2) the cranberries are used whole? They don’t need to be chopped or anything before hand?

    This is definitely making it to my thanksgiving table! Many thanks for the recipe!


  7. LyB

    Wow. I looooove cranberries, and caramel and almonds. But I am so afraid of pâte brisée… Gorgeous pics by the way, I so want one of those tarts right now, problem is, the only caramels around here are the kids’ Halloween candies ;)

  8. deb

    Christine — I’ll have to try her recipe. The good thing is, I like to make tart-based foods so much, I always have a reason to try a new dough. But what I’d really like are some new results…

    Xani — Those came out so well! The first time I made caramel, it freaked me out, but it gets easier, I swear. The truth is, you have to do nothing but watch the color and sometimes the temp. Oh, and not touch it!

    Abby — Summer is always a disaster for me because of the humidity; crusts just fall apart. But I made this on a cool day… ah well. I should lower my expectations, that’s what I should do.

    Courtney — Yes, I do think pecans would work. My hunch is that the cranberries are frozen to slow their cooking process–so you don’t end up wtih cranberry puddles but lightly broken ones that are recognizable. I started with a bag of fresh and popped them in the freezer while I made the dough, etc.

    Jenifer — I had no idea I had missed you until your little comment, lady. Seriously, I use an RSS reader! What are links?

    Emily — Yes, but I would freeze them first to slow the cooking process. They are used whole. It’s that simple! Hard to mess up, but I did my best.

    LyB — Kids candy has nuthin’ on this.

  9. sassy

    I have the answer for you – this I know because I too used to have crusts that puffed up and ruined everything.

    Three things fixed this problem – now my pate sucre’s work every – yes EVERY time.

    First, don’t overwork the dough – if you are food processing, as SOON as you get a sandy consistency, add water and turn it off – bring it together on the counter, b/c if you keep pulsing it, it never comes together well. If by hand, same deal but you have to work it a little more to get to the sand level…

    Second, roll it a little thicker – you still need to weight it down in the overm but I promise it sticks better.

    Lastly, DONT overcook it – just tan on the edges is enough – tastes better in the end too! Ok to cook it a little longer with filling in it, but not empty – it should only be half-cooked at high temp.

    Good Luck!

  10. Christina

    I feel very foolish asking this, but for those of us who are tart novices… if you were going to weigh it down to get it to not shrink, how would you do that exactly?

  11. Caitybug

    I LOVE your website. Some day I will have the time and energy to actually try one of your amazing-looking recipes. This will be the first, I think.

  12. Michelle

    These look gorgeous and I’ll definitely have to try the recipe out. PS, did you know your website was mentioned in an article in today’s LA Times Food Section? Congrats!

  13. Katie

    Maybe you can blame your oven instead? It seems like a good alternate target that also can’t protest your accusations.

    Today’s images are startlingly gorgeous.

  14. kasey

    I just tried your recipe for pumpkin bread pudding! It was AWESOME!!! :) This one looks very delicious as well and I’m looking forward to trying it.

  15. Hello! I just now came across your blog after going through my usual read through of food blogs, and I like this one quite a like. :] I’m probably late with commenting, but here goes.

    I seem to have the exact opposite problem. I pretty much fail at every else the first couple of times, but when I make pies or tarts they come out excellent. I use the same dough with each and every tart/pie that I bake. The first time I tried it though, the tart dough came out horrid. I wasted about a gazillion pounds of butter, had to go out to Sam’s Club and buy in bulk, then wasted half of that, until I finally got it right! Just keep to what you were saying at first; it’s the recipe, not you. :D

    Pâte Brisée recipe that I use (argh, unless you’ve already got this, which I am sure you do, because it’s very basic and easy and I’m rambling):

    3 cups all-purpose flour
    2 sticks of butter
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1/4 (less or more, depending on how the dough comes together, it’s process) cups ice cold water

    Good luck. :]

  16. Janet

    Try this:

    1 cup flour
    1/8 tsp. salt
    2 TBS. sugar
    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
    1-2 TBS. white vinegar

    Mix flour, salt and sugar. Cut in butter until particles resemble coarse crumbs. Sprinkle with vinegar and work with fingers until dough starts to hold together. Press mixture into pan, either 9-inch cake pan, baking dish or loose bottom tart pan. Fill and bake.

    For a fast fruit tart, fill with 4 -5 cups of fruit tossed with 2 TBS. flour, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 2/3 cup sugar and bake at 400 for 50-60 minutes. Blueberry seems to be the favorite, followed by stone fruits and apple.

    I found this recipe in a Woman’s Day Magazine in the 1970s and it has NEVER failed me. Be prepared to share the recipe.,

  17. oh you’re freezing cranberries now!! yay! i can’t wait to buy more this year and freeze my batch – can you believe I moved apartments with them this year? :-) the tart looks awesome, could i have one for breakfast this morning? Working from 7am (i.e. being in the office at 7am seems cruel w/o a tart)… As for tart doughs – eversince my pie disaster this summer, i’ve been afraid to go near homemade tart/pie dough. I’ll have to try my hand at it again though.

  18. I’ll join you in your misery for shrinking tart crusts. I’ve been on a tart spree the past week or so and just can’t seem to get any kind of crust…pastry or crumb…to stick to its intended size. But I’ll fight the good fight one more time (sigh, it – meaning making and eating another delicious tartlet- is a burden I’ll just have to bear) and make these to see how they compliment my maple chestnut tartlets I’m having at Thanksgiving. Lovely photos as always!

  19. Those are gorgeous – I’m going to try them for Thanksgiving, I think. I have two bags of cranberries languishing in my freezer from last time they were on sale, just waiting for the Perfect Recipe (which this may be). Though, maybe, I’ll just skip the tart crust and go with pie dough?

  20. deb

    sassy — Thanks for the advice!

    Christina — There are no foolish questions. The process I was referring to is called “blind baking,” fairly common when making tarts. Once the dough has been rolled out and arranged in the tart pan and chilled again is it often pricked all over with a fork, lined with parchment paper and filled with pie weights (ceramic or metal tiny balls), dried rice (though some feel this is too heavy) or beans and par-baked in the oven for about 20 minutes, until it is lightly golden at the edges. If you are going to bake a filling, such as with a quiche or this crust, you then let it cool and fill it, then finish baking it. If you are going to use it for an uncooked filling, like a pastry cream and berries, you will finish baking it for another 15 minutes without the lining and weights.

    It surprised me that this recipe didn’t call for it, but since it was less work to do it as he described, I didn’t argue. The process is supposed to help fight the shrinkage that occurs in tart shells and prevent, in the words of Julia Child, “a soggy bottom. Nobody likes a soggy bottom.”

    Michelle — I did see that, thank you. Compliment or criticism, I wasn’t sure, but I suppose any press is good press, right?

    Katie — You know, I already blamed my oven for one disaster this year, and I don’t want it to get bitter with me and rebel. Then I’ll really up the creek.

    Gabriela — Thanks for the recipe. It looks almost exactly like the Martha Stewart one I have always fallen back on for pies. However, I always thought for dessert crusts that something with an egg or yolk in it is better… more cookie-like. Obviously, I am no expert (see above whining) though.

    Janet — I love the idea of adding vinegar. In other doughs I have like there is always a tenderizer such as that. I should try swapping the water with vinegar next time…

    radish — I thought of you when I popped them in the freezer. If they had been in better condition (I had to throw away SO many) I would have bought an extra couple bags. Hopefully they’ll be looking better as the month goes on. I think you faced the curse of tart doughs in the summer in your disaster, btw. Butter-based crusts HATE humidity, warmth of any kind, no matter how high the a/c is on.

    superblondgirl — You could certainly try. Despite the difficulties this one gave me (in shrinkage, not crust overall difficulty to roll out, etc.) it was stunningly delicious, all browned-butter like because it was slightly overcooked and cookie tasting, a delicious contrast to the caramel. Siiigh, want more NOW.

  21. For those wondering about pie weights – you can buy them in kitchen supply stores, ones that look like mardi gras beads or small white ceramic balls. You can, however, also use a big bag of dried beans. Either way, they’re reusable – just cool them off after baking and put them in a clean, dry bag for storage. To use, you roll out the dough, put it in the pie tin, then line the dough with aluminum foil that covers the edges of the pie, too, and pour the weights into the aluminum shell, making sure the weights are distributed well all around the dish.

  22. deb

    Actually, I wanted to add but wasn’t sure where to squeeze it in the conversation that I don’t know if the ceramic pie weights I have are all that. They’re fairly big and don’t nestle well into the corners and up the sides, and I can’t shake the feeling that the walls fall a little into the triangles between them. Had I not stupidly paid good money for TWO sets (because one never, ever fills a 9-inch pan to the rim) I would have switched to dried beans a long time ago. Learn from me, people!

  23. mmmm well, in terms of recipes, this is my go-to family recipe and my personal favorite (sorry for the autoreference there, but it couldn´t be avoided). In that particular tart, the filling is spread before baking, so that always helps, but what I do when I need to prebake the crust is to chill the dough very well in the pan, spray it with cooking spray, put some aluminium foil quite tightly over it and another similar pan in the middle just a little smaller than the other pan so it holds it all together. I don´t usually use any other weight or dried beans or anything, but you could just to make sure and considering you have two sets of pie weights!
    I´m just realizing my explanation is a bit complicated if you aren´t seeing the process, but I hope you understand it and it does help.

  24. deb

    I just noticed something else about the dough. I have often blamed water content for shrinking doughs–those quarter-cups and tablespoons we add disappear once baked, so the crusts have little choice but to slim down. But this one had none–the only liquids were barely that, one egg yolk and one tablespoon of cream, and both are very rich and not things that bake off 100% in the oven.

    So, more or less, I am perplexed as ever.

  25. Stephanie

    If you are okay w/ a cookie type crust then “The Pastry Queen” by Rebecca Rather has a great one that does not shrink. She also has many other fabulous desserts that turn out perfect each and every time I make them. I have a bad habit of cutting corners in recipes too and hers hold up to it beautifully. Enjoy!

  26. santadad

    You have to be kidding!

    If these are failures, what do your successes look like … Damn Atkins! I think I have to cheat on T-Day.

  27. you? not skilled at tart doughs? this tart is the EPITOME of perfection!! so I’m very glad to read that you consider this cranberry, caramel & almond tart to be one of the best things you’ve ever made – I wholeheartedly agree!! :0)

  28. Kristi

    I have had great success with Dorie Greenspan’s Sweet Tart Dough from her Baking at Home cookbook. Instead of rolling it out, she just presses it into the tart shell. I have used it for both full size tarts and mini tarts, and each time it is perfect. It’s the only tart recipe I have ever tried, I was lucky and got a good one on the first try! I liked the idea of not rolling it out. To me, the rolling process can lead to stretching the dough when it gets placed into the pan, which would then result in shrinkage when it was cooked.

    Dorie has it frozen after it’s in the shell, and then covered with foil brushed with butter as it bakes. She says that since it is frozen, it does not need to have weights, and she is right, as always….

    Regardless, these are beautiful and I think I will be making them next week as a trial run before the “Big Event” in a few weeks.

  29. kastinkerbell

    Hi Deb…longtime lurker here.
    If it makes you feel any better…I went to culinary school for breads and specialty desserts. Pate brisee still gives me fits. Also, we *never* used it for tarts with sweet fillings. I *always* used pate sucre. It’s more forgiving and melting when you eat it. I’d suggest giving that a shot next time you’re feeling tarty. :)

  30. If I don’t get one of those Effin Tarts I am going to be pretty damn bitter. GRRRRRR. I know where you live missy.

    Anyway, I am going to go out on a limb here and solve your shrinking dough problem. I am going to guess that it’s your shoddy NY apt. Landlord provided oven. Get one of those big fancy ovens they have at the pastry shop and Bingo! you’ve got perfect tart doughs.

  31. They look beautiful (like you said, you can’t tell from the pictures!) I’m definitely a buy-frozen tart dough kind of girl, but hopefully you can find a great, easy recipe someday and maybe I’ll try it! :-)

  32. Jelena

    Wow! Those are beautiful! Thanks for sharing. My crusts usually never shrink, but it’s been known to happen. Anyway, with tarts like that I don’t think you should worry about it. Bake some bread and feel better!

  33. I always thought tart doughs were supposed to shrink a little. Not like you put the wrong shirt in the dryer shrinkage, but, you know, a little bit away from the edges. That said, when I par-bake I usually just get it so the tart bottom is set, not at all golden. Because you’re going to be baking it again with the filling (which will hold the crust down and prevent further shrinkage), you don’t want to over do it. Oh, and I always bake from frozen and rarely use weights.
    Maybe you should write to Harold McGee (or Chris Kimble) and ask him to do a column on it?

  34. there is an excellent article in the current cooks illustrated about pie crusts. the author suggest adding vodka! shocking.

    i’m veganizing this and making it asap.


  35. Marisa

    I also have a terrible time with crusts – and went to the Cook’s Illustrated web site for help. They have a great video explaining why crusts fail, and why consistent results are so hard to acheive. Definitely worth watching. I haven’t tried the vodka method yet, but am anxious to try.

  36. tim

    Hey y’all,
    I made this last night using the Tart Dough recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook and it was amazing!
    The dough is super easy to work with and is a really natural replacement in this recipe. (It is still buttery and cookie like) Thanks for this Deb! It is an instant classic… And try this dough! You’ll like it.

  37. I’m so drooling over this recipe, and it’s making me have deja vu about something I’ve eaten that had these exact flavors, cranberries, almonds, and caramel, and whatever it was was fantastic. I wish I could remember what it was! I’ll definitely put these in my holiday arsenal this year.

  38. I just remembered!! It was the Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar!!

    I have no idea if Starbucks still has these, but they were a great flavor combination. I’m sure the homemade version is a thousand times better.

  39. Oops! I’m totally dominating the comments here, but I just realized that the Starbucks pastry I mentioned above is NOT similar to this at all. But I think maybe Starbucks used to carry a similar cranberry caramel pastry, in a bar form, but it’s been years and years since they had it.

  40. Kalle

    is there any possibility that the fact that the tart pans you show (and i assume use) are non-stick is what’s causing the issues with the tart crust? i don’t know, but it sounds like you’ve addressed every other possible culprit…thought it was worth a shot.

  41. dara

    I just had to respond because I just made this and it came out perfectly. No fallen sides, enough filling to *just* fit into my 9inch tart pan (I couldn’t believe it!), and beautiful!

    I always use Martha Stewart’s pate brise recipe for all my tarts. Once I roll it out and drape it over the pan, I press the dough into the bottom rim with my thumb all around, then use the rolling pin to lop off the excess, of which I try to have as little as possible. If I do have excess, I use it to thicken the edges a bit, then kind of push the edges up all around so the dough is a bit above the edge of the pan. Then I line it with tinfoil (careful of the taller edges), pressing the foil into the bottom ridge so there’s no danger of it slinking down. Then I fill the shell with dal that I keep for this purpose, nudging the dal into the all-important corners. Yes, the little bitty beans do work *way* better, as they fit right into where they need to be to do their duty. (You must ditch those overpriced weights!) Then I bake it 20-25 minutes till it’s turning golden, removing the foil and weights for the last few minutes if the dough is set and I want it to color more. That’s it! Works every time, with few instances of fallen sides. Oh poor fallen sides!

  42. Liz

    Okay – late in the game…another question. I could not find any cranberries, fresh or frozen, in my local supermarket. Any thoughts on another fruit that would be good and work in this recipe? Maybe cherries??? I’m sure cranberries will be appearing soon, but I had no luck this weekend! I couldn’t believe it!

  43. I made these this past weekend (trial run before Thanksgiving!) and they turned out amazingly, even though I cut the time a bit in several corners.

    I used the Martha Stewart Tart Dough that tim recommended above, but as I was using porcelain tartlet dishes, I didn’t bother popping the tarts out. I did check on getting one out a little, and the bottom was definitely a little soft, probably thanks to me not pre-baking the crusts long enough?

    Doesn’t matter, they were still amazing tasting! Deb, you were right that this is the most delicious caramel possible. It seized up on me, but with a little patience, it melted mostly back down into orgasmic delight.

  44. Brittany

    Do you think there’d be any problem using dulce de leche rather than caramel? I have a jar left from Argentina that I think would go to best use in a tart like this…unless you think of some reason why it shouldn’t.

  45. Kate

    I made this tart for Thanksgiving and WOW…it was absolutely A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Not only was it delicious, but visually beautiful as well. I used the tart dough recipe from the Tartine cookbook, which worked perfectly.
    Thanks for such a fantastic recipe!

  46. Chef Theresa

    Just made this and the Maple Cream pie for a party. And guess which one people raved about? This TART rocked everyone’s world…seriously delish. My only change is I would add just a touch of salt to the caramel, but other than that….WOW. A definite keeper. Recipe worked great with a shrunken pie pastry!BTW, I needed only half the filling for one tart shell.

  47. Oh my Lord. That looks like the most perfect combination of ingredients. I have a new batch of cranberries that I picked up today that are begging me to use them in this recipe. Thank you!

  48. Eve

    I’m not 100% sure if this qualifies as tart dough per se, but as someone totally cursed when it came to pastry, Delia’s recipe below has been my savior. It is the only pastry I can manage (but I can make it fast and easily). It does not shrink and so long as you prick the bottom, you don’t need to par-bake before making quiche.,20,AR.html

    I have also read that it’s important to not ‘stretch’ the patry but instead roll it — beause stretching results in shrinkage later. Personally, I’m convinced lard makes for shrinkage and/or problems with making pastry as all the recipes I’ve tried with lard generally fail.
    This crust is very buttery and flaky and QUICK. I also don’t like very sweet pastry so it works for the tarts I make.

  49. I just watched the French Apple Tart episode of America’s Test Kitchen. I think the problem with your tart dough may be the pans and not you :-) The Equipment Corner segment included a review of must have bakeware. When Adam talked about the tart pan, he recommended the one without a nonstick finish because a non-stick finish makes the dough sink into the pan. With all of the butter in the dough, the nonstick finish doesn’t provide texture to hold the dough up.

    Hope this helps!!

  50. Mariah

    please help me out. I MUST make this recipe, MUST. Only trouble is, the crowd I will be pleasing will be much larger. I would like to make it in a 9x13x1 pan. I of course would only run the crust up the sides a bit, but, I’m wondering….would you multiply the ingredients by 2 or just 1 1/2. Also, how much longer would you reccomend for baking. Please get back to me soon….

  51. deb

    9×13 is 117 square inches in base area; a 9-inch circle would be about 63-64. So, you’d want to double the recipe, and the crust, to keep the thickness about the same while making more.

    If you have a 9×13 springform or removable-bottom pan it will be easier to remove.

  52. Mariah

    I’m in a time crunch…..I am parbaking now. Can I leave the parbaked crust at room temp for a few hours before I do the filling? Anyone? Beuller?


  53. Connie

    how long do we think this tart will keep at room temperature? ( i want to make it in advance and transport it home for thanksgiving :)

  54. Leslie

    I made this last night for a small dinner party-thanks, Deb. The caramel seized on me and seemed to take forever to melt back down. Did I wait too long to add the cream and butter mixture after it was melted? I didn’t strain the caramel sauce through a mesh strainer (there were some hard parts in the final dish–hard as little rocks), as I thought it wouldn’t go through. I definitely recommend straining, but what’s the best way to strain without losing half the recipe? By the way, I used the Cook’s Illustrated sweet tart pastry and it turned out great. I used lentils instead of my metal pie weights, so thanks for that suggestion! Everyone thought it was a hit, except for the caramel stones.

  55. I was wondering if you found any solutions to that shrinking crust issue. I’d like to make this for Thanksgiving at my boyfriend’s parent’s house but I would hate for it be a tart disaster. Any advice?

  56. jeni

    i’m gonna make this with your awesome non-shrinking tart shell you posted this week. =)

    my question is the same as lynna’s – can i make this ahead? i have too many things to bake at the same time!

  57. deb

    Here are the things that can be made ahead: The dough, which can be kept in the fridge well-wrapped for up to three days or in the freezer (again, wrapped well, like three layers of plastic wrap in different directions) for weeks. You can roll out the tart shell and freeze that (slipped into a freezer bag) for a couple days. You can bake the tart shell, empty, a day early and leave it at room temperature (think of it like a cookie, which is essentially is). Finally, I’d say that the completed tart keeps for a couple days in the fridge, probably longer, but you will slowly lose some crisp- and freshness in the shell. I vote for working on the tart shell earlier, and throwing the entire tart together either the night before or morning of. Good luck!

  58. My word. I made this tonight with the Great Unshrinkable Sweet Tart Shell and it’s wonderful. It looks like it was made by a professional. Perfectly rustic. 100% delicious. This was a test run to decide what dessert to bring to the family Thanksgiving party and, ding ding ding, we have a winner!

  59. Krista

    I made this last night with the unshrinkable tart shell as well, also a test run for a Thanksgiving party. It is the first tart I have ever made. I didn’t have a tart pan so I used a springform pan with the bottom pushed about 3/4 of the way and supported by an upside down pie pan underneath while baking. It was wonderful. What a fantastic recipe (both the crust and filling). Thanks for sharing. I will be making this next week. It was a hit with my husband but not the kids. Fine with me, just means more for us!

  60. Rachel

    I made these tarts today and they turned out great! I am bringing them to my boyfriend’s parents for Thanksgiving and was wondering how I should store them? Fridge or not?

  61. Eeshani

    Long time reader, and been stalking this recipe in particular for a while. Finally made it last night with Dorie Greenspan’s unshrinkable sweet tart dough. Looked perfect, but then the whole pan slid off the cooling rack, and hit the (white) carpet face down, in about 25 pieces and a pool of caramel. The tiny piece that was salvageable was absolutely delicious. I’m making this again, tonight, but without the cooling rack. Thanks for a fabulous recipe!

  62. danielle

    I just saw this recipe a couple of days ago, and made an oath to myself that i would make it for Christmas today…. I did, and i havent tasted it yet, but i think i burnt the sugar!!! it a pretty deep brown, and the taste is a little off. Hopefully in the full tart form it will taste better.

  63. Mandy

    What I learned:

    Make the crust, the frozen thingy isn’t the same
    Don’t sub blueberries for cranberries
    Let the caramel thicken and cook completely
    Cook the tart for the entire time period (including browning the crust prior)
    Let the caramel cool

    This was the first failure I’ve had in the kitchen in a while.. if you follow my handy improvisations, you will have an inedible pie. I’ll try this one again when cranberries are back in season ;)

  64. I wonder if phyllo dough would make an adequate substitute, and if it could be redone as a slab pie? I don’t have tart pans (bad me! naughty me! Go to the corner!) so I’d need something similar. Hmm…muffin tins?

    Ack! Cranberries and almonds, my favorite fall yummies! I *must* make this tart!!

  65. Jilian

    i’ve got this in the oven right now. it smells delicious. my tart dough certainly shrank, but it seems to be holding the filling well despite that. my carmel seized up on me too. i think i added to much cream in the first addition, and then was using a spatula instead of a whisk to stir it together! I tend to get a little frazzled in the kitchen! Anyway, after i put it back on the heat and got to stirring it managed to mix fairly well. My only question is, do we bake at 350 for the second time around? I didn’t see an alternate temp. My tart has been in for 30 minutes but is nowehere near bubbly and the cranberries are still perfectly in tact. Im baking for a longer time, but was wondering if I am supposed to have the temp up? Thanks for the great recipe, as always. Everyone is always impressed when I use one your recipes!

  66. Hi Deb! I made this recipe a couple years ago and thought it was excellent, and I plan to make it again for Thanksgiving this year. I was thinking of doubling up and making an extra tart for another event I have in December, but I was wondering if you thinking the finished tart would freeze well. Thanks!

  67. Liz

    I’m planning on making this for Thanksgiving next week, but I want to make 16 mini tarts instead of the single 9″ tart. Although Deb’s pictures show tartlets, the recipe only gives instructions for the large version. Is there anything that should be changed? Cooking times? And how many mini tarts will this recipe yield?

  68. Jenn

    I just got a tart pan and this was the first recipe that I wanted to try! :) Would it be ok to use fresh cranberries instead of frozen?

  69. dagnolia

    i made this for the first time last week… now all i can think about is how amazing the cranberry-almond-caramel trifecta would be as a cheesecake topping. i have no idea how to go about making that a reality, though maybe that’s for the best.

  70. Darling Deb, can I make this in a springform pan or would that be a total disaster? I also have a round, 9 inch cake pan and I have a ceramic, pie pan – would either of those work? I can run out after work and buy myself a tart pan if truly necessary but I’d prefer not to. Thank you so much and happy Thanksgiving!

  71. Wow… I think I’m going to let the dough chill before rolling it (Unshrinkable shell recipe) because mine shrank considerably.

    First attempt at caramel didn’t go well but the 2nd batch that’s cooling right now “looks caramel-y” according to my husband so. YAY!

    Can’t wait to serve it tomorrow.

  72. deb

    Amy — Yes. Will edit that in.

    30 Dresses — You can make it any of those. Just (if the springform or cake pan) keep the crust only an inch or so high up the sides.

    Also, I believe I saw someone on Twitter (?) perhaps mention this tart this week, that she’d had a chunkier and less caramelly look than my tarts above. That would actually be correct. I have been to the City Bakery many times recently and they have this tart out and it often looks more granola-ish (just a little caramel binding) and less gooey than mine. I believe that because what is pictured are mini-tartlets, the caramel distributed among them unevenly.

    Happy baking!

  73. tanya

    Not as great as I expected

    I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a while, and finally had the opportunity and occasion to make it (Thanksgiving). The crust recipe I used is similar to the Great Unshrinking Tart Crust, so no problems there.
    The filling, however, was a disappointment. I had no trouble making caramel. It came out rich in flavor color. But to my taste the caramel/cranberry/nut ratio was wrong:
    1. Too many almonds. I found that their texture (chewy, rather than crunchy) and flavor overpowered cranberries. I think that cranberries are too strong an ingredient to play second fiddle to anything else. In a desert, they should take center stage.

    2. There were not enough cranberries to balance the sweetness of the caramel. So the tart is basically a whole lot of caramel saturated nuts and not enough tartness and fresh taste; the cranberries are nearly drowned in the cloying sweetness.

    Verdict: Was not impressed enough to want to make it again (the recipe is fairly involved to make it on the spur of the moment). But if I do decide to give it another go (not any time soon), I will definitely adjust the quantities of cranberries and nuts. But to tell you the truth, I would probably go with a much simpler but no less impressive cranberry galette, in which the filling made of fresh cranberries truly showcases their fresh, tart, wintery taste.

  74. tonya

    I made this for Thanksgiving also. The non-shrinking crust was perfect. I’d agree with Tanya above that there are too many almonds, next time I make this I’ll go for fewer nuts and more cranberries.

  75. Holly

    Hey Deb, Just thought I would let you know my experience with this recipe-

    my tart dough did turn out perfectly. It chilled over night and rolled beautifully (on my silpat) and didn’t shrink at all.

    But, i have to say i was a bit disappointed in the filling. nothing held together, and i thought there was way too big a contrast between the cranberries and caramel..

    oh well!

  76. Diana

    I made this tart twice over the Thanksgiving season. The first time I thought it could use more cranberries and I adjusted the amount the second time. It has a beautiful presentation and isn’t too sweet. My guests really enjoyed it.

    My only problem is baking the tart shell. The sides will brown nicely but the rest of the tart is pale and undercooked… The second time I baked it a lot longer which caused the tart to shrink. Should the foil cover the entire tart shell? I used the Unshrinkable Sweet Tart Shell recipe.

  77. Ms. S

    Ok, I know this recipe has been commented on ad infinitum, but since I posted today for the 1st time on your walnut pesto, I thought I’d give you my 2 cents on this recipe and crust. I made this at Thanksgiving and it was awesome. I wanted to use the crust that the recipe specified, though I’m sure your Unshrinkable is quite nice, so this is how I overcame the side shrink, and its a technique I think I will use from now on … very simple.
    After I put the dough in the pan, I left the inch or so overhang on and just gently wrapped it over the edge of the pan and lightly pressed it to the outside. After the par-baking, while the crust was still hot, I ran my rolling pin over the edge of the pan as one normally does BEFORE baking. The soft, sandy shortbread crust cut away clean and smooth with a perfect edge and then I had the pleasure of using a butter knife to dis-lodge the dark, crusty, buttery bits from the outside of the pan which were quickly dispatched to my mouth.(Note to novices: Do not use a silicone rolling pin to do this) Since the pan is ultimately removed, no one will ever see this messiness and the crust looks picture perfect. This prob will only work with a soft shortbread type crust though. But thanks again for the delish recipe … you are my new go to for recipes, supplanting Chocolate and Zucchini.

  78. Ellen

    I made this for Thanksgiving using pecans instead of almonds–it was heaven! It was so beautiful visually and was absolutely delicious. Tons of compliments. The unshrinkable sweet tart shell recipe worked perfectly. Thanks so much for this Showstopper!

  79. amy

    hey guys! question re the dough mixing: i don’t have a standalone mixer (sadly enough). would it work to do the mixing in a food processor?


  80. cheryl

    Silly question Deb but heavy cream? 18% or 35%?
    I bought 18% so hopefully it will turn out still…love your blog by the way!! I’m addicted!

  81. bell

    this is absolutely delicious. i’ve now made the recipe twice, once with tartletts, the second using a 9″ crust. each time it has stolen the show. it’s also such a beautiful treat at this time of year, with it’s spectacular Autumnal colours (i’m irish, we write colours with a ‘u’), and its fruity, nutty perfection. the nuttiness of the almonds and the tartness of the cranberries is the perfect juxtaposition against the caramel.
    would you have any particular suggestions as something to serve with it?

    thanks for your recipes and photos and stories and…..well, the blog in general. I think you’re really great.

  82. Susan

    I made this just yesterday for a pre-Thanksgiving family get together, and I just have to thank you for the recipe. It was fantasticly gooey and the sweet-tart combo was amazing. Thanksgiving in a tart shell, which I found to be pretty easy to work with — no issues on my end. Hope that yours have been resolved!

  83. Made this for Thanksgiving and it got rave reviews. It’s a gorgeous dessert, too! I was afraid that my caramel was so thin that it’d boil over and that the slivered almonds would get too chewy from being baked; luckily, I was wrong on both counts. I added more cranberries than called for, maybe about 2 1/2 cups. My only problem with this is that it fell apart when cutting & serving, so it was more like a slice of crust with filling that I had to mound on top. I suppose that if it’d held together beautifully it would’ve been miserable to cut… Maybe next time I’ll substitute Deb’s salted caramel recipe for this and see if it gets everything to stick together more. The Great Unshrinkable Tart Crust, btw, worked like a CHARM!

  84. YUM! I made this for Thanksgiving. It turned out PERFECTLY – it was beautiful and YUMMY! It was a hit and has been added to my list of favorite recipes.
    Thanks Deb for a gorgeous recipe!

  85. Sharyn

    I love to make pastry and typically have cold hands. Shrinking is not prevented by weighing down, me thinks, but by the refrigerating and resting. Weights just stop it rising up and puffing (don’t forget to prick it first) – but Jamie Oliver reckons he seldom does this – I always do but I dont normally do individuals – just one big one. Anyhow, handle as little as possible, use cold everything – the butter should be rock hard, food processor absolutely and IF you have another pastry recipie that works and that you think would suit USE it with this filling. And if worse comes to worst – use a nice sweet short pastry from the supermarket!

  86. Oh, my. I just rediscovered this recipe while planning my Thanksgiving menu. I remember I made this years ago, supposedly for a party I was invited to — but no one ever got to taste it because I kept that whole 9″ tart all for myself. whoops. DEFINITELY making the tart again (and sharing!) this year. :)

  87. Greta

    I use the pate sucree recipe in Joeanne Chang’s cookbook Flour and it works every time, and is super easy. Just baked this and bringing it to a potluck. Don’t know if I did it right…I’m afraid of caramel. Didn’t burn it this time but it seized and after returning it to the heat a lot was still stuck to the bottom…so the caramel cream mixture was a bit more watery than in your photos…and then we had a fire in the oven and we had to turn it off then back on afterwords…so it baked for I don’t know how long…but the edges were bubbling when I took it out. Hope it’s as delicious are yours were! I love your blog :)

  88. Deborah

    just checking to make sure that there is butter in the filling as it is not included in the City Bakery cookbook. Your photos are so fab. Looking forward to making this tart for Thanksgiving.

  89. Zanna

    Just made this tart tonight. (I should say today as it takes a fair bit of time with all the steps and waiting in between.) You had me worried about the pastry, but it behaved beautifully (your recipe) after I followed every step to the letter. Hardly any shrinkage. It was if anything a bit softer and crumblier than I expected. I might go without the 1 T of cream next time. It got rave reviews though! Shiny pretty, toasted nuts, etc. I did have extra filling left over making it in a fluted tart pan.

    I did have to make two batches of caramel after the first one seized and wouldn’t let go–actually my big non-stick skillet did not work for caramel while my regular old 3 qt Revereware worked great! Has anyone made this wit h a different nut? I was thinking walnuts would be good in this combo, if they are not too oily.

    Long first comment, but I’ve been reading and being a fan for a long time! Yay SK!

  90. Cindy

    Absolutely wonderful! Like Zanna, I followed the recipe to the letter and it turned out perfectly with not shrinkage at all. I did add a little extra cream though so maybe that made a difference. The tart sweet combination was a great finish to our Thanksgiving feast. Thank you for sharing!

  91. Zanna

    I ended up sort of wishing the caramel would be thicker and sweeter. I know feelings differ on this–I get the adult, sophisticated mix of not-too-sweet and tart, etc. But as a matter of technique, what makes caramel more liquidy as opposed to thicker? How long you cook it? How much cream/butter you add? And doesn’t longer cooking at the sugar-melting stage just make it darker?

  92. Addison

    I made this for Thanksgiving and it was sort of disastrous. :( Luckily I made three desserts this year and the other two were wonderful. I don’t think it’s the recipe, but it had the most awful taste. It tasted so metallic that I kept looking to see if there was loose change in it! What could I have done wrong? The awful taste was in the caramel, because I had some leftover and I tasted it. I made it in a high-quality stainless steel skillet and stirred it with a wooden spoon. I did not strain it (because it came out very smooth) and I let it cool in a glass bowl. I also think that there was also a silicone spatula in there somewhere. Does anyone have even the vaguest idea what I did wrong? I guess it’s pretty obvious that something reacted with metal somewhere along the line but what? Sugar? Cream? Butter? It’s so bizarre… I’m still haunted by it a week later!

  93. Rachel

    I find that if I melt the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat while whisking constantly, my caramel comes out smoother and clearer, and there’s no need to strain it.

  94. Tiffany

    Hi! I wanted to let you know that i made this tart a few times, came out amazing every time and i even won 2nd place in a baking competition with it. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  95. Sarah

    I’ve been making this for a couple of years now. I’m not baker or cook so I modified it a bit. I use packaged filo tartlets which I prebake. I do make the caramel (even though I’m temped to cheat on that sometimes too), and toast the nuts (I’ve used slivered almonds and chopped walnuts). I add 2-3 frozen cranberries to each tartlet, with a few nut pieces, then cover with a spoonful of caramel. Then bake some more so the caramel melts around the berries and nuts. Even though I halve the caramel recipe, there is always plenty left over to dip apples slices in as a sweet snack.
    Always a winner!

  96. jessica

    Hey deb, i am making your tart and I noticed that you forgot to add pie weights. Being the n00b that I am at cooking, I followed you blindly and my pie shrunk. Just for future makers of this recipe it would be so helpful if you added that note! thanks and i can’t wait to eat it despite the shrinkage. (that’s what she said)

  97. Christine

    Made this last Thanksgiving and it was a big hit with my family, though less so with me. I liked the filling but didn’t think that its candy-like texture went well with the crust, and the sharp sweet-bitter contrast was a bit harsh. Fast forward several months, and we used the leftover filling (which we had kept frozen) in a dessert that I thought was even better than the tart: Put in custard dishes, reheat in the toaster oven, and top with creme Anglaise. Wow! The creme Anglaise fills in the gaps, literally and figuratively, that disappointed in the tart, and I did not miss the crust. Next time, I will try it in a baked custard. If you could recreate this combo in tart form, I think it would be perfect. Maybe by adding the candy filling to a chess-pie recipe? Thank you for the creative and inspiring recipe, Deb!

  98. EPT

    Hi Deb,
    I made this last night and everything seemed to work fine — I substituted the tart recipe with your great unshrinkable tart and it didn’t shrink! The tart looked great after it was baked but an hour after I removed it from the tart pan (the tart was left to cool for at least 1.5 hrs), I found that the shell had kind of fallen apart on one part and the filling had seeped out. I left it overnight and had some today but the shell was totally soggy and now it’s like a pudding :( My tart pan isn’t very deep — is there too much filling vs tart shell size? Do I need more cranberries vs caramel sauce? My tart pan is 8in, was that the problem? Do I need egg wash?
    I made this for a practice run for a friend’s birthday per her request and would like to figure this out if possible. Thanks!

  99. Maddie

    hi deb- just a quick question- i’m a little confused about how many tartlets this will make. you say 12, but other tartlet recipes i’ve seen have said 6 4-inch tartlets for the equivalent of 1 9-in tart.. just want to make sure to double the recipe if i need to! can’t wait to make this :)

  100. Maddie

    nevermind, i answered my own question! i went ahead and doubled the tart shell (using the “unshrinkable” recipe) but did not double the filling, and it worked out perfectly! what a wonderful recipe- thanks, deb!

  101. Kj

    so I’m guessing by now the tart dough issue has been resolved. I saw a lot of alternative dough recipes on here. my first thought when I saw your recipe was “oh don’t use powdered sugar! that’s where the problem is!” then I read the comments so I’m going to go with problem resolved. :) generally though powdered sugar will produce a super fine fragile dough that won’t hold up to something as heavy cranberries and caramel. at any rate three years later and i’m going to make these.

  102. Athicha

    Made this for Thanksgiving yesterday and followed previous advice to up the cranberries and lower the almonds. It was delicious! Guests had seconds after a full Thanksgiving meal.

    The caramel overflowed in the oven and smoke billowed over the whole kitchen, but it was totally worth it. Thanks for the recipe, Deb!

  103. Sue

    Trying this with the Unshrinkable Tart Dough, using wild Alaskan cranberries. It’s a little confusing going back and forth between the two recipes, and I’m wondering whether I’m supposed to bake the filled tart on the baking sheet, or not. I’m doing it with, and I suspect it would be fine either way, but I’m curious what you recommend. Thanks!

    1. deb

      Sue — Definitely on a baking sheet, because it can sometimes bubble over. (You can line it with foil too.) I actually just made a note for myself that this tart recipe needs some updating/streamlining, because it’s not the crust I use these days either (you’re using it), but hopefully it will all work out well in the end. I made it to the letter on Thanksgiving, btw.

    1. deb

      We’ve covered that here before, but in the end, I returned to an all-butter dough I prefer for pies. But I don’t like to use pie doughs for tart shells. I still feel that the best way to get crisp pastry (for a tart shell, not pie, where crisp isn’t my goal) is to avoid using water.

  104. Zoe

    Re: shrinkage. I am no expert, BUT, on the Great British Baking Show pastry episode, all the bakers blind-baked their tart cases with the un-trimmed edges of the pastry sheet draped over the edge of the tin, and then trimmed them with a sharp knife after the blind bake (or perhaps halfway through, when taking the weights out?). The magic ticket? My/your Thanksgiving pecan pie will may reveal the answer…

  105. Mindy

    I don’t have mini tart pans but I do have a large tart pan- how would I make one big one? Would it be the same amount of ingredients?

  106. Shelly

    Maybe I missed a comment or an update, but are you saying that the tart dough recipe called for here will still shrink?? Because I don’t want to mess with that for a Thanksgiving dessert. What about subbing your “great unshrinkable sweet tart shell?” (Please say it will work!)

  107. Danielle

    Hoping to make this for my stupidly massive 80-person Thanksgiving party. Can I use dried cranberries? (Impossible to get fresh or frozen in Botswana) If so, do I need to soak and freeze them, or just soak, or put them in as is? Gut instinct says soaking alone would be best, since they still won’t cook as fast as fresh cranberries, but I’m wondering if anyone here has any thoughts…

  108. Donna

    I made the recipe as written, and it yielded 1-9″ tart + 4 tartlets! They were delicious! I felt like it needed some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream though, to add some creaminess. One of my favorite local bakeries makes a raspberry carmel tart – carmel layer on bottom, then dollop of custardy cream & topped with fresh raspberries- the combo is really extraordinary. The only part of this recipe that gave me a problem was the caramel seizing – which required a lot of patience to fix! Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

  109. Shelly

    Ended up making this with the great unshrinkable tart crust, and it worked very well. Everyone loved it and was licking their chops on Thanksgiving! I did have to make it about 36 hours before we ate it, and since it was fairly cold, the caramel was a little more hard than I would have wanted (and crystalized a tiny bit). But 5-10 seconds in the microwave and it was perfect. We will be making this again!

  110. dobes

    Made this yesterday for a small Christmas party with friends. The twist: it had to be gluten-free and vegan. I made a crust of 2 cups gluten-free flour (combo rice and tapioca flours, xanthan gum), 2/3 c earth balance, shake of salt and spoonful of sugar, froze it overnight, thawed it and pressed it into a tart pan. Precooked it, and filled in some cracks with leftover dough. Then I made the caramel with 2 cans of coconut milk and 3/4 c brown sugar, a little salt and vanilla. It took FOREVER (okay, 45 minutes) to cook down to caramel, but it did. The rest was according to the recipe, and it was PERFECT! I will keep this recipe for holidays to come – beautiful presentation, delicious taste, and versatile for dietary needs! Thanks!

  111. I made this twice last year for holiday potlucks. IT’S AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS and surprisingly easy to make. I thought the caramel part would be awful, but it’s not bad at all. However, I do use store-bought pie dough :P This is definitely a wonderful go-to holiday dessert, a decadent crowd-pleaser.

  112. Kristen Z

    I made this in an 11 inch tart pan using the great unshrinkable tart shell recipe. I 1.5-ed both the filling and the tart crust. I was glad I did for the tart crust – a bit left over, but gave me some to work with. As for the filling, there was a LOT (and I overfilled the tart). I think I could have made just one recipe and it would have been fine. You do need to plan ahead with all of the cooling and waiting for both the crust and the filling.

    This is a really delicious dessert. A bright, rich, pretty crowd pleaser.

    1. Kristen Z

      I also meant to add that I did blind bake the tart shell for 20 minutes with the foil, and then another 5 without the foil for good measure. I wish I had gone ahead and done the full 10 minutes to get a nicer brown on the crust.

  113. smeron

    I have made this a couple of times before for Thanksgiving, and it’s wonderful–a welcome alternative to the pumpkin pies I detest and the apple pies I’m sometimes bored with. I made it with Deb’s great unshrinkable tart crust, and it worked well. As another commenter mentioned, you do need to plan ahead with this recipe because it calls for a lot of cooling/freezing/waiting. But the results are worth it. Just don’t add extra cranberries like I did once and then overfill the tart… it will end with tragic spillage.

    1. deb

      When I make this ahead to bake when needed, I’m more inclined to keep the filling and tart shell separate so that it doesn’t get too soggy. But in general, I prefer to just bake it ahead. It keeps well

  114. Jean

    Yes! I was trying a new recipe last week and burnt/shrunk the shell … no smell, no smoke, not even a smoke alarm went off. So today I tried another recipe .. still shrunk, after doubling the freeze time. Thanks for leading the way, I am definitely going to add this to the menu.

  115. Mamie

    My go-to pastry recipes come from the Cook’s Illustrated, “The New Best Recipes”. I always weight and blind bake. It’s essential. With that being said, my husband, sitting beside me, says this will be our Thanksgiving dessert.

  116. I have a recipe from epicurious that makes awesome no shrink pie dough.
    1 and 1/4 cup ap flour
    1/2 tsp salt
    5 tbsp chilled unsalted butter
    1/4 cup chilled solid veg shortening.
    2 tbsp (or so) ice water.
    Directions cut in fats into dry ing. Add water as needed to make dough. Chill 1 hr.
    Roll out blind bake for 20 mins at 325 if filling and cooking or 35 if not. 9 oven temps vary adjust as needed.

  117. Karen H

    I made this for Thanksgiving. I have to admit that the process for the making of the crust was a bit counterintuitive to traditional instructions for pâte sablée pastry but I followed your directions and was not disappointed. The result was lightly sweet, decadently buttery, with a perfect texture. The cranberry, caramel, and almond filling is one of the most refreshing departures from standard pumpkin pie. I rolled the dough for an 8″ X 10″ rectangular tart pan. The filling fit perfectly and the presentation was beautiful! This may be a new holiday tradition!

  118. Bridgit

    What does the cutting apart and kneading do? I just don’t get it. In everything I’ve ever wanted a light and flaky, we are always told to work the dough as little as possible. My dough is in the fridge, and I’m wondering if I should just skip this step. Also, mightn’t the additional gluten strengthening be the cause of the shrinkage? Also, looking forward to the book! Congrats!

    1. Anne Handley Sisco

      Maury Rubin’s tart dough recipe is way too fussy. I skip all that cutting and mushzing back together and freezing. I made the dough, refrigerated overnight, rolled out between pieces of parchment and baked. I had no shrinkage.

  119. Made this with the Unshrinkable Tart Shell, which shrunk a huge amount. Because of that, this was way too much filling, so I had to leave about a 1/2 cup of the mixture out because I’m scared of it overflowing.

  120. Shaniel

    I stumbled upon this recipe while looking for something with peanut butter and chocolate. I work with a pastry chef with 35 yrs experience so I can safely give you these tips:

    Tart bases need to be made as cold and quickly as possible to prevent them from shrinking later.

    1. Use chilled firm butter not room temp
    2. Combine your butter and sugar by hand (preferably with gloves on) till it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the rest per your method
    3.DO NOT RUSH resting time is essential more is better 1-2hrs chilling in the fridge.
    4. Blind baking is essential (par baking with weights) to keep the tart base from rising while par cooking. Par cooking is necessary when you are using very wet or raw fillings such as caramel/egg based.
    5. This is not necessary but it helps: after par baking glaze sweet tarts with a little apricot jam (bring to boil and take off heat). Return to oven mini tarts 5-6mins, full tarts 12 mins. Keep an eye on it do not let it burn. This helps strengthen tart bases for filling.
    6. Fill and bake as usual.
    7. If filling baked cooled tarts without jam use melted chocolate. Coat tarts evenly and let dry. Fill with custard (creme patisserie is best) cover with your favourite sliced fruits and gently brush an even coat of melted apricot glaze over the top.

    Hope this mini novel helps. I realise the post is very old. Keep trying, best of luck.

  121. Caroline

    Hi Deb! Any chance of seeing this recipe with weight measurements? I’m trying to 1 1/2 the recipe for an 8 x 11 1/2 inch tart pan and, ugh, fractions.

  122. Andi Michelsen

    Have you ever tried “press in” dough? My daughter, who worked in pastry departments used to suggest these, but I’ve never tried them.

  123. fan

    ‘Tis the season — and finally made this bookmarked treat! It was good.
    Loving the ingredients, will try again to help boost their flavor:
    — Crust was the dominant flavor and too labor-intensive. Will use an trusted alternative to help other flavors shine.
    — Not enough cranberry flavor. Will add a cranberry jam as a base.
    — Muted almonds. Will use toasted sliced almonds.
    — May use more cranberries and fewer almonds instead of / in addition to above.
    — Added a few pinches of salt to the caramel. Will do so again.
    Overall, a great addition to the Thanksgiving menu.

  124. Dawn

    I have small 4-5 inch personal fluted tart pans. Any ideas on adjustments to cooking times for the smaller sizes? My husband is returning home after a month away and I want to surprise him with these gems. YAY!

  125. MAC

    I made this for Thanksgiving and it was so perfect! It came out as pretty as the picture and it was also soo good! I did make a few changes to cater to our lifestyle. First, I used refrigerated dough from the grocery store (Philsbury, not to name it, makes a pretty decent dough that has become my go to). I pre-baked the dough in a fluted pan with weights and then brushed it with warmed apricot jam, and back in the oven fo 8 minutes, as one baker suggested. The caramel gave me a little trouble and a third hand would haven been handy. This said, I cooked my seized-up caramel until smooth and only had a small lump of sugar left. I did cut the butter in the caramel by half; I just couldn’t fantom all that cream and all that butter! I was decadent enough!! A keeper even if it is a little time consuming. I do believe it could be made the day before (I had just baked my crust on Wednesday).

  126. Nancy

    Made this for Thanksgiving and really liked the method for the crust. It came out short and crumbly. I used a deep 9” removable bottom tart pan. I spread the dough up the complete sides, it did slump but didn’t notice that it shrunk.

    My issue was the Caramel, the moment I added the cream and butter it seized into one giant clump of sugar. I continued to cook and stir and chop up the clump and got most of it to dissolve but one large clump remained.

    With all this said, it was amazing! Everyone raved. Definitely will make again can’t let the Caramel get the better of me. Happy holidays!

  127. Jessica Roberts

    Hi Deb, thanks for pointing this out on IG – I’m excited to give it a try! Two questions I don’t believe have been asked yet:

    1. Should I dock the vertical sides of the tart in addition to the bottom?
    2. Do I let the caramel rest in the fridge or at room temperature?

    Thank you!

  128. Esullins

    I’m a SK devotee for sure, but this recipe was a huge disappointment. No salt in the entire recipe meant bland crust, bland caramel. The caramel itself was fussy and tricky, and I’m fairly experienced with candy making. Cranberries wound up bitter despite the caramel – I had to add whipped cream. And the crust was just weird. Why don’t the instructions include pie weights? Why isn’t there salt? Why overwork the dough?

    I will definitely try this flavor combination again. But with a lot of changes to the technique.

  129. Pat Ewins

    This tart was very special and a definite “do over” !! The pastry was odd to make but came together easily and didn’t shrink at all. (Froze i formed, t overnight due to scheduling issues). The caramel was an excersise in “never, never, never, ever give up” but keeping the faith and continuing to heat and whisk even when it had practically solidified resulted in perfectly smooth and delicious sauce that baked up beautifully in my 4X12 tart pan. Only modification was a final sprinkle of flaked salt to complement the sweet/tart tart. Possibly even more beautiful than delicious …but that’s a toss up. A real holiday winner. Thanks so much.

  130. Kiernan Middleman

    What a bummer! I’m an experienced baker who loves this blog and followed this recipe to the letter. This was hands down, the worst thing I remember making, ever. The dough was, as advertised, a complete pain in the butt to work with. When cooked, it tasted like confectioners sugar which was off-putting. While the finished product looked very pretty, we all took one bite and threw it right in the trash. The thing is, I just can’t imagine how it would be good. I am sure I didn’t make a mistake, it was just a terrible combination of flavors and textures.

  131. My boyfriend, a cranberry lover, really enjoyed this tart. That being said it is a bit of a pain to make it. I had a similar issue with my tart shell shrinking so much it could only fit 1/2 – 1/3 of the caramel filling. However, I used the leftover filling to make the upside down cranberry cake (also a smitten kitchen recipe) and it was amazing! If you have leftover filling and can’t bring yourself to roll out more tart dough I recommend this route

  132. Heather Giannandrea

    I made this with SK’s unshrinkable tart dough in a 9-inch tart pan. I had one small ramekin of filling left over that I baked separately. This was my first time making caramel and unfortunately I burned the sugar, which made the entire tart taste bitter. I think it would have been quite nice if it had worked out. :(

  133. Lesley

    This tart is fantastic! I was looking for something festive and a little different for the dessert at my annual holiday dinner party – happily, I found this Smitten Kitchen gem! To quote my guests “this crust is outstanding” .. “not too sweet, not too tart, just perfect”. I opted to reduce the almonds by about half and the ratio was great. Served with a dollop of cinnamon whipped cream. This one’s definitely a keeper. Thank you Deb for another amazing creation!

  134. Trudi Baldwin

    Deb, I’ve asked you twice before but got no response. Some of your recipes, including this cranberry tart have no time estimates at the start of the recipe. I find it very useful to get an idea of how long something will take. Even better, divided into Prep and Bake. Thank you. So, how long should I allot for this tart?

    1. deb

      I’d love to have every piece of information all 1500 recipes on the site and will, in time, but it will be a long process. As recipes are revisited, they’re updated.

      For this recipe, it will depend on if you’re making the tart shells and how you plan to do it. If you’re following this to the letter, you’ll want to estimate 3 to 4 hours just to make the tart shells, with chilling times. The filling can probably be done in 45 minutes, plus baking time.

  135. Laura

    I made this recipe as bars using the shortbread base from your lemon bars recipe, in a 9×13 glass baking dish, buttered and lined with parchment with overhang. The filling amount in this recipe was a perfect fit for that base.
    Baked in under 40 minutes. Chilled before slicing. They are delicious!

      1. jeni

        Hi Dori,
        I just threw my bag of cranberries in the freezer for the day and baked it in the evening. Let me know if you try it with fresh! Happy Thanksgiving.