Filed under: Fruit Based
December 19, 2022

Cranberry Curd Bars

Smooth & tart orange cranberry curd bars balanced on an orange pistachio shortbread. 

Yield: 16 bars
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Smooth & tart orange cranberry curd bars balanced on an orange pistachio shortbread. 

If you’ve been here awhile you know this isn’t my first foray into cranberry curd: there’s a swirled curd pie with lemon and there’s a blueberry cranberry meringue pie. And building on that, after so many loved these blueberry curd bars, I thought perhaps this Christmas I could make a cranberry version. Then I saw that TJ’s now has an orange cranberry bar and well, our fate was sealed. 

 

The curd recipe takes inspiration from David Tannis’ cranberry curd tart; I’ve changed up the method and used whole eggs instead of yolks. The shortbread is the same as the one from the blueberry curd bars but it’s got some ground pistachios in there. And oh! What a combination this is. I topped mine with a pistachio whipped cream (more on that in a bit) and, well, it’s so unique and lovely. Cranberry fans, this ones for you! 

Key Ingredients to make this recipe 

 

Cranberries: Use fresh! They’re in the stores November – January and organic or non is fine. Usually the bags come in packs of 340g, exactly what you’ll need here. 

 

Orange: I think blood oranges work exceptionally well here, they are a little tart but not overly so, have an undertone of berry and a deep red color. 

 

Pistachios: These are easily made nut free but if you like them, make an excellent addition. I have them ground up finely in the crust and then for the whipped cream I just added a little pistachio paste. If you don’t have pistachio paste, make a regular whipped cream. 

How to make Cranberry Bars 

 

I think this is best done in one session: make the crust (in the food processor, press it in and bake) and while it’s baking make the filling. 

 

The filling is three separate steps, although fairly simple: 

 

  1. Cook the cranberries with the orange and sugar: this breaks down the berries so you can extract their juice 
  2. Strain the mix, to remove the skin and seeds, then add the eggs and cook until thick. 
  3. Strain, this time to remove any egg bits, into the butter. Incorporating the cold butter slowly gives us a wonderfully smooth texture. 

 

Potential Issues/What could’ve gone wrong 

 

The color is very light, not bright and vibrant red. 

 

The berries weren’t blended before straining. The cranberries release some but not a lot of juice when cooking. You have to muscle the rest out by blending the mix before adding the eggs. 

 

The curd… curdled.

 

It was cooked too long in the second step, with the eggs. If you go above 170 F, you’ll start to see it get very thick and teeny white bits. You can strain these out but be aware the curd won’t be as smooth. 

 

The filling didn’t set. 

 

I don’t foresee this happening much, cranberry curds are quite good at firming up in the oven quickly but if it does it’s possible the oven temperature is off and it needed more time to bake. 

 

Questions you might have about this recipe 

 

Can I replace the fresh cranberries with something else? 

 

Nope. 100% cranberry juice won’t work either, I have tried it and got a very pale colored curd that didn’t really taste like cranberry. Stick with fresh. 

 

Can I skip the nuts? 

 

Absolutely. Just omit the pistachios. 

 

Can I make this ahead of time? How shall I store it? 

 

Yes! It’ll keep for a week in the fridge. If you haven’t lifted it out of the pan I’d leave it uncovered. If there’s condensation on the top when you want to serve or top it, use a paper towel to gently soak up the water spots. 

Pistachio Cranberry Bars Recipe

Cranberry Curd Bars

Smooth & tart orange cranberry curd bars balanced on an orange pistachio shortbread.
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Chill Time: 4 hrs
Yields: 16 bars
5 from 1 vote

Ingredients

Shortbread Crust

  • 160g or 1 cup plus ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 50g or ¼ cup g granulated sugar
  • 30g or ¼ cup g powdered sugar
  • Zest of 2 blood oranges or 1 orange
  • 140g or 10 tablespoons g unsalted butter cold or softened is fine
  • ½ cup pistachios shelled (optional)

Orange Cranberry Filling

  • 340 g fresh cranberries
  • 210g or 1 cup sugar
  • 110g or 1/2 cup blood orange or orange juice, Zest from the orange from 2 blood oranges or 1 large orange
  • 3 large eggs
  • 85g or 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Method

  • To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 9” square pan with parchment paper on all sides (make a + so you can lift it easily).
  • Drop all the shortbread ingredients into a food processor and pulse on high until the dough comes together in a ball.
  • Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Take time packing it in, use the back of a measuring cup to help you (flour it so it doesn’ stick to the dough).
  • Bake the crust for 30 minutes.

While the crust is baking, make the filling

  • Place the cranberries, sugar, orange zest and juice in a pot. Stir together then set over medium heat.
  • Cook for about 10 minutes, until most of the cranberries have burst. Use an immersion blender to puree (or transfer to a food processor to blend).
  • Press the mix through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Add the eggs and whisk quickly. If your mix is particularly hot, add the cranberry mix slowly to the eggs while whisking.
  • Transfer mix back to the pot and cook until the curd has thickened, stirring constantly, use a thermometer to make sure it doesn’t go above 170 F.
  • Slice the butter into pats and place in a bowl, and over it a fine mesh sieve. Pour the curd though the sieve pressing it and scraping the bottom of the sieve to make sure you get every bit.
  • Stir with a clean spoon until the butter is melted and the curd is smooth.
  • When the crust is done baking, pour the cranberry mix on top. Return to the oven for 12-15 minutes, until only the center jiggles when you shake the pan.
  • Let cool at room temperature then in the fridge for at least four hours before serving.

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