Brown-Butter Cranberry Tart

 It’s an established fact that browned butter makes everything taste better. Especially when we’re talking about a tart smothered in delicious cranberries.


I got out a puzzle last night and put together all the interesting parts: The edges, corners, then the people, the letters, you know the drill. Then I abandoned it like yesterday’s jam. Who wants to spend 2 hours putting together 250 pieces of monotonous blue sky? Eric does, that’s who. And I still get the satisfaction of a finished puzzle. I married up, people.


When I was a kid we had the same desserts for every single Thanksgiving meal: 2 lemon meringue pies, 2 blackberry pies, some mint brownies, and a token pumpkin pie that nobody wanted (I think my dad ate it single-handedly every year.) I thought that’s what Thanksgiving was: the same pies, over and over.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love pie, and the 2 I listed above are indeed 2 of my favorite pies (“All 9 kinds of pie that Harold liked best”…name that children’s book!!)


But check this out people. I think it’s time we expanded.

This here tart was the best part of my day. (Well. Besides my kids being awesome. I actually forgot about my 8 month old son today. I was busy taking pictures of this tart when suddenly I panicked. Where is he?? Oh, right there on the floor where I left him, silently smiling at the ceiling. Don’t hate me. I will get my comeuppance one day when he turns into a rampaging toddler or a rebellious teenager.)


You need to eat this tart after your Thanksgiving meal because it will perfectly balance out all that sage and thyme. You need to make this tart for Thanksgiving because you can make it 24 hours in advance. You need to make this tart for Thanksgiving because this thing called fresh cranberries only happens once a year.

You need to make this tart because there is a copious amount of browned butter in it. Copious, I say! I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like butter, and I’ve never met anyone who didn’t think browned butter was better.


The tart itself is less like a tart and more like an extremely moist cake. It reminds me of a Gooey Butter Cake, especially because of the intense vanilla flavor. The lemon zest does not make it taste lemony, but adds brightness. And the browned butter…oh, the browned butter. Make sure you use real vanilla beans, or vanilla bean paste, otherwise you will be missing out.

What desserts do you guys make for Thanksgiving every year? Do you stick to the tried and true or do you like to branch out?


P.S. There are a couple photos of the method below the recipe.

P.P.S. Do you guys follow me on Pinterest? There are lots of amazing things going on over on my boards recently…

Brown-Butter Cranberry Tart

Yield: Makes 1 10-inch tart, serves about 8


    For the tart shell:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • For the filling:
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped (or 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste )
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • For the Cranberry Sauce:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups (one 12-ounce package) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Make the tart shell first: Add the flour, sugar and salt to a food processor and pulse to combine. (Or whisk it together in a bowl.) Add the butter and pulse about 4 or 5 one-second bursts until it is the size of small peas. (Use a pastry cutter if you don't have a food processor.)
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the cream with the egg yolk. Pour the cream mixture into the food processor all at once, and pulse in short bursts (again, about 4 or 5 one-second bursts) until moist crumbs form. (Or just use a spoon)
  3. Turn the pastry out onto a work surface and pat into a disk. Do not knead, just get it into the disk and stop messing with it. There should be visible chunks of butter. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until chilled.
  4. On a floured countertop, a floured silpat, or floured parchment paper, roll out the tart shell 1/8 inch thick. Fit the pastry into a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom; trim the overhanging pastry. I highly recommend parchment paper; then you can just flip the whole thing over onto the tart pan.
  5. Patch any cracks with the pastry trimmings. Refrigerate the tart shell for about 30 minutes, or until it is chilled.
  6. Preheat your oven to 375. Line the tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans, making sure that the crust is not covered. Bake for about 22-25 minutes, until the rim is just barely turning golden. Take it out of the oven, remove the foil and weights. Bake for about 10 minutes longer, until lightly golden all over, or until it no longer looks doughy on top. Set the tart pan on a baking sheet.
  7. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt the butter with the vanilla bean and seeds (or vanilla bean paste). Cook over medium heat until the butter starts to turn golden and smells nutty, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Here is a great tutorial if you've never browned butter before.
  8. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of sugar, as well as the lemon zest. Pour the brown butter into the egg mixture and whisk until incorporated. Whisk in the flour and salt. Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden and set. Err on the side of undercooking. If your tart crust looks like it's going to start burning a few minutes after the suggested bake time, just take it out. Transfer to a rack to cool, about 2 hours.
  9. In a medium pot, stir together 1 cup of sugar with the cranberries and water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until the cranberries have just split and the sugar is dissolved, about 4 minutes. Scrape the cranberries into a bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.
  10. Using a slotted spoon, arrange the cranberries on the tart. (Save the liquid and put it on ice cream!) Cut and serve!


Make ahead: You can make this tart the day before you serve it. Keep it out on the counter, covered. The cranberries can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before using. Also, this tart is made in a 10-inch pan, but I used a 9 1/2 inch. It worked fine, I just had to discard a little bit of the filling so that it didn't overflow.

Source: Food and Wine

IMG_8621After you pulse the cold butter into the flour mixture (for the tart shell), you want chunks of butter about the size of peas.

IMG_8626Once you have added the egg/cream mixture, you want to make sure you don’t over-pulse the mixture. 4 or 5 1-second bursts should make it look like this. You should still see little bits of butter.

IMG_8668This is the filling. It is not very thick at all.

IMG_8678Here is the finished tart. Nice and brown on top.

IMG_8650Here is the finished cranberry sauce. You want them just barely split and the sugar dissolved.





  1. Misty says

    I will be making a chocolate truffle cheesecake this year. I gave your mom the recipe so you may be having it too!:) I love doing my peanut butter smore pie too.

  2. Kelly says

    So, wait… You strain out the cranberries at the end? Doesn’t the liquid thicken up like cranberry sauce? Also, where does one actually find a tart pan if they live in the middle of nowhere? Online?
    Emily tried to lick the computer screen. She thought the tart looked pretty tasty. Then again, she thinks small leaves and bits of paper are tasty too, but I’d have to agree with her on this one. If I can find a tart pan, I’m making this for Thanksgiving with my in-laws this year.

    • says

      Yes, you strain the cranberries. Not a ton, you don’t let them sit in a colander or anything. Just use a slotted spoon so that you don’t drown the tart with liquid. There won’t be that much sauce left over, at least there wasn’t for me…maybe a quarter to half cup?
      I would suggest Amazon for a tart pan. 2 day shipping! Or they usually have these at Target and Walmart…or are you really THAT in the middle of nowhere?? I hope you find a way to make this because it is freaking amazing.
      And I bet Emily is getting so big, I wish I could see her!

  3. says

    This looks divine! I don’t make desserts for Thanksgiving anymore . . . those are delegated to my mom and mother-in-law. :) I am making a different cranberry dish this year that really could be a dessert . . . frozen & fluffy, with pineapple and marshmallows and lots of good things. It’s called “Cranberry Salad” but it deserves a better name. :)
    Claire @ Lemon Jelly Cake recently posted…Thankful Sunday (40): Trip to Washington D.C.My Profile

  4. Kris says

    I’m making this for tomorow Karen! So excited! Joy is making pumpkin pie so this will be a great compliment to it.

    Minor difficulities: I have no tart pan so Chip is bringing me home one. (How did that happen that I don’t have a tart pan?) Also, using a slightly different crust recipe from my Cuisinart cookbook as I don’t have any heavy cream (now, anyway – I will later. Chip is also making a last minute run to the grocery store – which unfortunately, is not accross the street anymore. I’m also making your jello coke cherry salad – haven’t made jello for a very long time – and your broccoli almond salad. The rye bread is done and turned out beautifully! Have you blogged that yet? If not, you might need to!
    Happy Turkey Day! Will be missing you all!

    • says

      Kris, Rye bread is on my list for this month. I can’t believe I haven’t put that on the blog yet! Such a shame. I will be calling you at some point begging for advice I’m sure. :) Sounds like you guys are going to have an awesome Thanksgiving! Wish we could see you!

  5. Maureen Zacharias says

    Hi, Karen it’s me again. I saw a picture of this the other day, so since I was on your website I took a second look. I don’t remember seeing this at dinner last Thanksgiving. I do think we need to change up Thanksgiving dessert. Keep the turkey, though. I have to tell you that it only very recently that I discovered making pie crust using a food processor. Duh! Larry makes his by using a cheese grater to grate very cold butter into the flour. I like that idea as well. We don’t make very pies around here because as I said I gain weight too easily now. Boo, hoo! But Larry did make an awesome Lemon Meringue last week that the two of ate over the course of three days. I keep going up two pounds then down two pounds. Sucks! Hope to see you sometime next week.


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