Last year at about this time, I learned 1) just how easy it was to make sugared cranberries, 2) that they are essentially edible holiday decorations, and 3) they are addictively sweet-tart and I love them. While cranberries are widely available, I find myself coming up with more and more reasons to use sugared cranberries. I think I’ve made three batches of them in the past week.  Most recently I used them to garnish these cranberry hazelnut tartlets for my holiday party this weekend. Essentially these are a simple hazelnut cookie cup shaped in a mini-muffin pan filled with a dollop of cranberry curd and topped with a few of the sparkly pretties.  As much as I love the classic holiday treats, I’m always glad to find something new to switch things up a bit. If you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path to bring to a holiday soiree or cookie exchange this year, these might just be the perfect option.

  • Yield about 18-24 tartlets


For the curd:

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ cup water
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 5 pieces
  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 large egg yolks plus 1 large whole egg

For the hazelnut cookies:

  • 1½ cups whole hazelnuts
  • 8 tbsp. (½ cup) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

To garnish:


  • 01

    Combine the cranberries, water, and orange juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst, about 30-35 minutes. Press through a fine sieve, scraping the bottom of the sieve to get as much pulp as possible (you should have about 1¾ cups).  Discard the solids.

  • 02

    In a medium saucepan, combine the pulp with the butter, sugar, and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved, about 7 minutes. In a bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the egg yolks and whole egg. Then whisk in cranberry mixture, 2-3 tablespoons at a time, stirring constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling. Return the egg-cranberry mixture to pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain the mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on surface of curd to cover, and refrigerate until cold, about 30-60 minutes. (This will be more curd than you need to fill the cookies, but it is great stuff to have around for many things.  Spreading on a biscuit or muffin, stirring into yogurt, topping ice cream, pancakes, waffles, etc. So many possibilities!)

  • 03

    Meanwhile, to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Place the hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until finely ground to the texture of coarse sand. Add in the butter, salt, brown sugar and flour to the food processor.  Pulse until the mixture forms a cohesive dough.*  Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill at least 1 hour before proceeding.

  • 04

    Take a small portion of dough (about 1 tablespoons) and press into the well of a mini muffin pan, creating a well with your thumb. Repeat with the remaining dough.  2 teaspoons dough into a ball and press into tart cup, creating a well for the filling with your thumb. Repeat with remaining dough mixture. Bake the cookie shells 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and just set.  If the center has puffed up some during baking, press down gently.  Let cool completely in the pans before carefully removing to a serving platter.

  • 05

    Fill each cookie shell with a small spoonful of the cranberry curd and garnish with a few sugared cranberries. Serve within 4-6 hours.**

  • 06

    *The dough can be mixed in a regular mixer, but the hazelnuts need to be pretty finely ground for this recipe so a food processor or other grinding mechanism is necessary. 

    **These are best within a few hours of assembly, but all the components can be made in advance.