PERFECT CRANBERRY BARS

If you are a fan of lemon bars, then you are going to love this cranberry version! I am a huge fan of cranberry, so I set out to come up with at least one exciting cranberry recipe this holiday season and that is how these perfect cranberry bars were born.

PERFECT CRANBERRY BAR BREAKDOWN

the crust:

While this may seem like the simplest part of making these bars, there are a lot of factors that weigh into the crust being just right. The crust is essentially a shortbread cookie. It must be the perfect thickness in comparison to the amount of curd. And it needs to have the right texture to hold up to the cranberry curd while retaining its crisp and buttery texture.

the cranberry curd:

The filling for these cranberry bars is essentially a cranberry curd. There are a handful of ways to make the cranberry curd filling (some much more complicated than others). The method I use is simple and yields perfect results. The zest of both lemon and orange infuse the cranberry curd for a touch of citrusy brightness. The curd has the perfect texture and simply comes together in your food processor or blender.

the topping:

While you can simply dust the tops with a generous amount of powdered sugar (which is the classic route), I like to glam these cranberry bars up with a few simple garnishes. Toasted meringue dollops, thinly sliced raw cranberry & lemon zest make for a gorgeous & festive presentation. You could also cover the bars entirely with toasted meringue. Whichever topping you choose, just make sure to add it to the cranberry bars just before serving.

perfect cranberry bar close up
perfect cranberry bar close up
perfect cranberry bar garnish

My favorite thing about these perfect cranberry bars is just how adaptable they are. For example, I added lemon zest to the crust, cranberry curd & topping, but you could substitute lime or orange zest for equally delicious variations.

If you are a lemon bar fan, then you will love this cranberry version! These perfect cranberry bars are a simply beautiful addition to your holiday baking!

Sweet, tart, and absolutely stunning, these perfect cranberry bars really deserve to be on your holiday baking list! Here is a list of some of the tools you will need to make these bars:

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PERFECT CRANBERRY BARS


  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

FOR THE CRANBERRY CURD:

  • 1 pound (4 cups/450g) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Pinch table salt
  • 2 tsp citrus zest (I used 1 tsp lemon & 1 tsp orange)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp (53g) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and softened

FOR THE CRUST:

  • 1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated citrus zest (I used lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 8 tbsp (142 g) unsalted butter, melted

FOR THE TOPPING:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh cranberries & lemon zest

Instructions

FOR THE CRANBERRY CURD:

  1. Bring the cranberries, sugar, water, and salt to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Lower heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover and cook until all the cranberries have burst and started to break down, about 10 minutes.
  2. While the cranberries cook, whisk egg yolks and cornstarch in bowl until smooth (reserve the egg whites for the meringue topping). Carefully transfer the hot cranberry mixture to a high speed blender or food processor. Immediately add in the yolk mixture and blend until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
  3. Let the curd cool in the blender or processor bowl until a skin forms and the curd registers 120 to 125 degrees (this will take 45 minutes to 1 hour) While the curd cools, make the crust.

FOR THE CRUST:

  1. Set the oven rack to the middle position & pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with two 8″ wide sheets of parchment. Lay sheets in the pan perpendicular to each other, with extra parchment hanging over edges of pan.
  2. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl until well combined. Pour in melted butter and stir until a uniform dough forms. Press dough to an even thickness in the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Let crust cool for 20 minutes before adding the curd.

ASSEMBLY:

  1. Add the softened butter to the cranberry puree and blend until fully combined, about 30 seconds. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl, pressing on solids with rubber spatula to extract curd. Transfer the cranberry curd to the crust (it’s okay if crust is still warm) and smooth into even layer.
  2. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before topping & serving.

FOR THE TOPPING:

  1. To the bowl of a stand-up mixer, with the whisk attachment (or in a clean small bowl and an electric hand mixer), add the egg white. Beat until foamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar & salt and beat until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with the desired tip (I used a star tip).
  3. Right before serving, slice up the cold cranberry bars with a sharp chef’s knife. I sliced into 8 larger bars, but you could also slice into 16 smaller bars.
  4. Pipe little dollops of meringue onto the top of each bar. You can use a torch to toast the meringue. Garnish with lemon zest and thin slices of raw cranberry. Enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Dessert

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 8 large slices

If you are a lemon bar fan, then you will love this cranberry version! These perfect cranberry bars are a simply beautiful addition to your holiday baking!
If you are a lemon bar fan, then you will love this cranberry version! These perfect cranberry bars are a simply beautiful addition to your holiday baking!

MORE HOLIDAY RECIPE INSPIRATION:

I am sharing these perfect cranberry bars along with a bunch of other bloggers for my friend Cosette’s Virtual Cookie Party 2020. There are SO many amazing recipes that you can search for using #virtualcookieparty2020! Here is a handful of cookie recipes that caught my eye:

If you are a lemon bar fan, then you will love this cranberry version! These perfect cranberry bars are a simply beautiful addition to your holiday baking!
{ 15 comments… add one }
  • AROSHALINY GODFREY December 6, 2020, 10:09 am

    oh my Bella, these look amazing! I will have to try them. Thank you for sharing my recipe <3

    • bella | ful-filled December 6, 2020, 12:32 pm

      Thank you SO much! I can’t wait for you to try them! And your madeleines look amazing, it was my pleasure to share!

  • Aubree mackey December 7, 2020, 8:31 am

    These are absolutely lovely! I love love love lemon bars and lemon curd, and I love cranberries, but would never have thought of a cranberry curd. This is brilliant, and I cannot wait to make these!
    Thank you :)

  • Anita December 7, 2020, 11:01 am

    These are stunning Bella. Just so beautiful! I love cranberries and I LOVE fruit curds so this is going on my must-make list this holiday season. xo – Anita

    • bella | ful-filled December 8, 2020, 9:29 pm

      Thank you so much Anita! I am exactly the same, I adore cranberries and fruit curds, something about the sweet & tart flavors just makes me so happy! I am so excited for you to try them!

  • Lalla Beachum December 24, 2020, 10:10 am

    I’m afraid I did something wrong. Mine are delicious but the curd stayed soft. I ended up cooking the assembled bar to set the curd. Ended up perfect. Do you think I miss a step?

    • bella | ful-filled December 27, 2020, 7:10 pm

      Hi Lalla! I am not sure why your curd did not set at room temperature, because each time I have made this recipe the curd always firms up. But I am happy that you thought to bake them to get the curd to set! Let me ask, did you add the cranberries to the egg yolk mixture while they were still piping hot?

  • niko February 17, 2021, 9:45 am

    Absolutely GORGEOUS photos!!!

  • niko February 17, 2021, 9:47 am

    Honestly that is why we even tried them in the first place because we are not really into cranberries or curd….

  • niko February 17, 2021, 9:48 am

    We followed the recipe to the “T” and they turned out perfect and they looked freakin STUNNING if I do say so…..

  • niko February 17, 2021, 9:50 am

    The flavors were FANTASTIC, the brightness and sweetness were the perfect compliment to each other, just enough of each to keep you intrigued, and I typically am grossed out by meringue, BUT literally loved your version in this application, a thousand thank yous!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Erica Wilson July 28, 2021, 2:54 pm

    These look amazing! I want to try them, but have one question: is the recipe – once baked – stable at room temp or do these need to be refrigerated?

    • bella | ful-filled July 30, 2021, 6:48 am

      Hello Erica! I am so excited that you want to try these! These curd on these bars actually never gets baked, so the curd sets up in the fridge. Once set, the curd is pretty stable at room temperature. But I would recommend storing them in the refrigerator if you plan on storing them longer term :)

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