An easy last minute dessert recipe for Thanksgiving. These cranberry apple shortbread bars are a delicious holiday treat.
I love any excuse to use this shortbread recipe. It’s seriously buttery, slightly chewy and lightly crispy on the outside. Plus, the basic flavor lends itself to almost any type of filling. I’ve done Meyer Lemon Shorbread Bars, Blueberry Rhubarb Shortbread Bars and even adapted it into an Easy Lemon Shortbread Cookie. I kind of wish I didn’t love it so much because… well, so.much.butter., but I just can’t help myself.
For the holidays I thought it was time to break out the shortbread recipe and layer it with a seasonal fruit filling. I’ve always loved apples and cranberries together and they work really well here. Both fruits are on the tart side so it isn’t a super sweet filling, but sometimes you actually want a dessert that doesn’t kill you with an overwhelming sensation of “hello, sugar.”
These bars were one of the last desserts I made pre-baby. After eating an entire row of them (whoops, that’s what 39 weeks plus will do to you), I froze the rest to save for the bris or baby visitors. They defrosted wonderfully and now I wish I had more!
Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away but this recipe is easy enough to add in as a last minute treat. Make them tomorrow or Wednesday and they will be perfect for serving on Thursday. Just make sure they are stored in the pan and tightly wrapped with foil or removed and tightly wrapped that way.
- 530g (~4 cups) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 454g (2 cups) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 240g (1 ½ cups) powdered sugar, sifted
- 200g (~1 cup) granulated sugar, separated
- 15 milliliters (1 tablespoon) vanilla extract
- 360g (4 cups) fresh cranberries (frozen will likely work, filling cooking time may differ)
- 100g (~½ cup) granulated sugar
- 59 milliliters (2 fluid ounces) water
- 8g (1 tablespoon) cornstarch
- 5g (1 teaspoon) minced ginger
- 2g (1 teaspoon) ground nutmeg
- 340g (~3 cups / 2 medium) chopped apples (I prefer to use a crisp apple like Granny Smith or Honeycrisp)
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
- Line a 13x9 baking pan with parchment paper so that some parchment paper hangs over sides and set aside
- Beat butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy; mix in vanilla until well-combined
- Stir in flour just until combined
- Press half of the dough into prepared baking pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown; shape remaining dough into a disk and wrap tightly with seran wrap; chill in refrigerator
- While bottom layer is cooking, prepare filling
- Combine cranberries, granulated sugar, water, cornstarch, ginger and nutmeg in a heavy duty saucepan over medium heat; stir occasionally and let mixture cook until fruit has formed a thick jam-like consistency (cranberries will be very soft but some still whole), about 8 minutes
- Remove from heat and fold in chopped apples
- Pour fruit filling over crust; remove remainder of dough from refrigerator and use all of it by dropping large crumbs over fruit layer so that the layer is completely covered
- Place back into oven and bake for about 35 minutes or until edges are very lightly golden brown and top feels set / firm
- Set aside to cool before cutting into bars and serving
Filling adapted from Blueberry Rhubarb Shortbread Bars
These bars are not overly sweet at all, the sweetness is mostly in the shortbread and the fruit filling adds a tart balance
Store tightly wrapped at room temperature up to two days or freeze for up to one month
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These are seriously what the holidays are all about! I love the color of them, too :)
Such a yummy bar for the holidays! This sounds awesome!
I love anything with shortbread, and the apple-cranberry combo is one of my favourites. These will be perfect for Christmas too!
Shortbread is one of my weaknesses in life. I can’t get enough of it! Especially with that sweet-tart filling…I fear I would eat more than a whole row in one sitting.
This is the definition of simply good!! Shortbread + cranberries = one happy Z!!
Cranberry Apple Shortbread Bars is simply yummy! It’s the best for holidays:)Thank you!
loving this idea! yum!
Are you only using 1/2 C sugar in the 4C cranberries? That sounds like it
would be very tart.
Hi Roberta – the 1/2 cup is correct. The sweetness of the crust and apples also helps to balance the tart cranberries. I hope you like the bars if you make them!
The recipe is a bit confusing…how much granulated sugar is used in the crust?
The crust uses 200 grams (about 1 cup) of granulated sugar.
Just wondering your thoughts on mixing a bit of apple crisp topping with the shortbread for the top?
I’ve never tried it but please let me know if you do!
I made it as per your recipe because I didnt want to mess it up haha. I used cinnamon and allspice as my spices in the cranberries. It was delicious! I just tried a corner, now I have to convince myself to get them in the freezer to save for Christmas!
Just made, super delicious!!! Love the balance of tart and sweet.
Thanks so much!
Can you use ground ginger instead of fresh?
You can try substituting 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger. The flavor will differ slightly but they will still be good!