End Your Fall Meal on a High Note with Brown Butter Cranberry Hazelnut Tart

Are you ready for all the fall holiday gatherings that are starting to fill up the calendar?

Vertical image of a plated piece of cranberry tart in the foreground and the remainder of the dessert on another plate and in a white ceramic baking dish in the background, with a metal pie server, printed with burgundy and white text.

I don’t know about you, but it feels like Thanksgiving is coming up really quickly. And other weekends and weeknights are filled with potlucks, parties, and family get-togethers.

Throughout the year, it feels like I never really have to go above and beyond with show-stopping recipes – until the holidays come around.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I put the holidays up on a pedestal, and I always want to go above and beyond to make the dishes that I prepare truly memorable.

That is where this gorgeous and flavorful tart comes into play.

I mean, just look at this layered colorful tart. You can’t help but think of fall the moment you see it!

Vertical overhead closely cropped shot of a homemade tart with a whole cranberry gelatin topping, on a checkered blue and white cloth with a small pile of forks.

It’s full of so many different flavors, with a complex depth that you don’t always find in a dessert. If you make this, you are going to be wow-ing the crowd with every single slice.

Let’s talk about each layer of this stunning recipe, shall we?

To begin with, toasted hazelnuts flavor the crust to make it nutty and full of toasty flavor. Plus, the crust is insanely easy to bring together since you make it right in your food processor. Simply pulse it all together, then roll it out to fit the tart pan.

Yes, it’s really that simple.

After the crust comes the brown butter custard layer. Once you learn how to make brown butter, I can tell you that you will never want to do anything else with butter. The nutty flavor complements the flavors in the crust with an added richness that really elevates the entire dish.

Overhead shot of three dessert plates with slices of cranberry tart, with the remainder of the dessert in a fluted ceramic pie dish to the right, with a metal and wood pie server in the empty space in the pan, on a cloth surface.

Finally, there’s the tart and tangy cranberry topping. The fresh cranberries, combined with a small amount of sugar, create the perfect balance with the rest of the tart. It brightens up the entire dish and cuts through the richness of the toasted and nutty flavors.

When you slice into it after chilling, you see these gorgeous layers with bright and earthy colors that embody the harvest season.

It’s the ideal closer for any autumn meal that you are planning to serve. No matter what your main dish is, this tart is an excellent selection. It’s both light and rich, without being too heavy.

It will satisfy your sweet tooth, but you won’t feel like you just devoured a giant molten lava cake of sweetness.

A slice of cranberry and brown butter custard tart is on a black and white patterned plate in the foreground, with another slice and the remainder of the dessert in a white ceramic pie dish in the background, with a metal and wood server, on a cloth surface with a fork.

I also love that the dish is served chilled, unique in comparison to many of the other traditional harvest desserts that are served at this time of year. (Baked apples, anyone?)

To finish your festive meal, I highly recommend serving this dessert with champagne. The dry, bubbly effervescence really complements the sweet and tangy flavors in each bite.

It is a great way to celebrate any occasion, whether it’s Sunday dinner, Thanksgiving, or a simple friendly dinner party to celebrate another year of happiness.

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A slice of cranberry and brown butter custard tart is on a black and white patterned plate in the foreground, with another slice and the remainder of the dessert in a white ceramic pie dish in the background, with a metal and wood server, on a cloth surface with a fork.

Brown Butter Cranberry Hazelnut Tart

  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Total Time: 9hrs,16 minutes
  • Yield: 1 tart 1x


Want to really impress the folks at your next autumn gathering? Make this elegant brown butter custard tart with cranberry topping and a toasted hazelnut crust. It’s a gorgeous sweet and tangy dessert.



For the Crust:

  • 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 1/4 cups white spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (1 stick + 1 Tbsp)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 12 Tbsp ice-cold water

For the Filling:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 1/4 cup white spelt flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the Topping:


To Make the Crust:

  1. Generously butter a 9-inch round tart pan. In a food processor, pulse to grind the hazelnuts for about 30 seconds. You want a smooth medium grind; not chunky, but not a nut butter either.
  2. Add flour, sugar, and salt. Give them a quick pulse to blend together. Add butter and pulse into the dry ingredients a few times, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Add egg yolk and 1 tablespoon ice water. Blend until the dough forms a ball. If your mixture is still too dry, add another tablespoon of ice water.
  4. Dump out dough onto a clean, floured work surface and bring it all together if there are any bits that haven’t clung to the ball. Flatten into a disc and then roll dough out into a circle that is larger than the mouth of the tart pan.
  5. Press dough into bottom and up the sides of prepared pan. Cover and chill for 1 hour in the refrigerator, or 30 minutes in the freezer.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Poke holes all over the base of the dough. Line with foil and add pie weights or dried beans to blind bake the crust. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, and lift foil to remove the weights. Return to the oven for 10 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden.
  7. Cool on the counter, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes before filling.

To Make the Filling:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until it starts to turn golden and smell nutty and toasty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with 1 cup sugar and the lemon zest.
  3. Slowly pour 1/4 cup of the egg mixture to the warm brown butter, whisking the entire time so your eggs don’t cook. Add the brown butter mixture back to the rest of the egg mixture, and whisk to combine.
  4. Whisk in the flour and salt.
  5. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for another 20-30 minutes at 350°F, or until golden and set (not jiggly in the center). Transfer to a rack to cool for about 1 1/2 hours.

To Make the Cranberry Topping:

  1. In a saucepan, combine the remaining 3/4 cup sugar with the cranberries and water. Bring to a simmer over medium-heat and cook until the cranberries just begin to pop and the sugar dissolves without stirring, about 5 minutes.
  2. Pour the into a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Stir, then refrigerate until cool for about 1 hour. Spread cooled cranberry gelatin on top of the tart.
  3. Chill the tart thoroughly for about 4 hours before serving.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hr, 15 minutes
  • Category: Tart
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Keywords: cranberry, brown butter, hazelnut, tart, Thanksgiving

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Cube Butter, Zest Lemon, and Measure Remaining Ingredients

Cut the butter for the crust into cubes and place in a small bowl. Keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it so it stays chilled.

If the hazelnuts that you purchased are raw, toast them on a rimmed sheet pan in a single layer at 350˚F for about 10-15 minutes. Be sure to keep any eye on them so they don’t burn, transfer them to another pan, and allow them to cool completely before proceeding with the recipe.

Using a microplane or zester, finely grate the peel of a lemon.

Measure all remaining ingredients, and set them out on your counter as listed.

Step 2 – Make Crust

Generously butter a 9-inch round tart pan. You could also use a square pan, if that’s what you have. Make sure to get in each of the fluted edges so the crust doesn’t stick.

You can use a pan with a removable bottom, or one without, depending on what you have in your bakeware collection. I find the type with the removable bottom is generally easier to remove from the pan before serving.

Overhead shot of a food processor with ground toasted hazelnuts at the bottom.

Add hazelnuts to a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds until they are ground. The mixture should not be chunky, but don’t grind it so much that you turn it into nut butter.

Top-down shot of a dry flour mixture in a food processor.

Add the flour, sugar, and salt for the crust to the food processor. Pulse again until blended.

Add the chilled butter and pulse the mixture again until the it resembles a coarse meal.

Add the egg yolk and a tablespoon of ice water. Blend the mixture until the dough forms a ball. If it’s too dry to come together, sprinkle with another tablespoon of ice water and continue to pulse.

Top-down shot of a hazelnut tart crust dough in a food processor.

Turn out dough onto a clean, floured work surface. If you have one, a marble slab is perfect for this, since it will help to keep the dough cool. Bring dough together if there are any loose bits, and flatten into a disc.

Roll dough out into a circle that is 1 inch larger than the mouth of the tart pan.

Homemade toasted hazelnut tart crust dough is rolled out into a shape that is roughly circular, on a floured granite countertop.

Gently transfer the dough to the pan and press it into the bottom and up the sides. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour in the refrigerator, or 30 minutes in the freezer.

Step 3 – Bake Crust

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Remove crust from the refrigerator and poke holes all over the base of the dough with a fork.

Cover the pie with foil or parchment paper, and then use pie weights or dried beans to blind bake the crust.

Top-down closely dropped shot of pie dough fitted into a ceramic baking dish, with an irregular pattern of holes all over the bottom, created with the tines of a fork.

Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and lift foil to remove the weights.

Press back into place if any areas have puffed up, then return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until the crust is just starting to turn golden brown.

Pie shell lined with foil and filled with dry beans to blind bake, on a wood surface.

Cool on the counter, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes before filling.

Keep the oven on.

Step 4 – Make Filling

Add the butter to a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Cook until the butter becomes golden brown and starts to smell nutty and toasty. This will take about 5 more minutes.

Foamy melted butter in the bottom of an enameled pot that is cream-colored on the inside and light blue on the outside, on a red and white potholder on top of a striped brown wood surface.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, or using your stand mixer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon zest.

A whisk stirs an egg mixture in a blue glass bowl, on a wood background.

Now it is time to temper the custard mixture. Slowly pour about 1/4 cup of the egg mixture into the warm brown butter, whisking quickly to combine without letting your eggs cook in the warm butter.

Once the mixture is completely combined, you can slowly pour the brown butter and egg into the rest of the egg mixture. Again, you want to whisk the entire time, until the mixture is combined.

An uncooked brown butter egg custard mixture fills a par-baked crust in a white fluted ceramic tart pan, on a striped beige and brown surface.

Whisk in the flour and salt. Pour the filling into the cooled crust.

Step 5 – Bake and Chill Custard

Return to the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and set. It should not be jiggly in the center.

Brown butter custard tart in a white ceramic pie dish with a fluted edge, on a striped wood background.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. It will take about 1 1/2 hours to cool completely.

You can turn off the oven at this time.

Step 6 – Make Topping and Chill

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, cranberries, and water. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat.

A nonstick stock pot of whole cranberries and sugar, on a wood background.

Cook the mixture without stirring until the cranberries just begin to pop and the sugar is dissolved. This will take about 5 to 7 minutes.

Whole cooked cranberries in a nonstick pan, on a wood surface.

Pour the cranberries into a large bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin and stir to combine completely.

A stainless steel bowl of cranberries dusted with powdered gelatin, on a wood surface.

Refrigerate until cooled, about 1 hour.

Step 7 – Finish

Once the cranberry topping is chilled and set, spread the mixture on top of the cooled tart.

Place in the refrigerator and chill completely. This will take about 4 hours.

Closely cropped oblique shot of a tart topped with a cooked cranberry mixture, in a white fluted ceramic pan, on a wood surface.

Carefully lift the base out of the collar if you used a two-piece pan. Cut the tart into wedges and serve.

You Can Make This Tart Ahead of Time

As you can probably tell from the recipe times listed, this tart takes a bit of time to pull together. It’s not a lot of active cooking, but there is a good amount of chilling involved, so you have to wait a bit.

To make your life a little easier, I highly recommend making this tart one or two days ahead of when you plan to serve it.

Top-down shot of a cranberry tart in a white pie plate with wood and metal server, with three servings on small black and white dessert plates.

Thankfully, since the entire thing needs to be chilled, it keeps well in the refrigerator for a day or so. Simply cover it with plastic wrap and you are all set to let it rest in there until you are ready to serve it.

For another sweet treat with a complex combination of flavors that’s served chilled (and that’s bursting with the taste of fall) try our recipe for Pear Sorbet with Ginger-Infused Maple Syrup.

Or for more tasty cranberry recipes, these might tickle your tummy:

If you’re looking for another elegant tart recipe to make, try these:

Would you serve this tart at the end of an epic dinner, or would you bring it to a potluck? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to come back to rate the recipe once you try it.

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on December 13, 2011. Last updated: November 13, 2022 at 13:44 pm.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

24 thoughts on “End Your Fall Meal on a High Note with Brown Butter Cranberry Hazelnut Tart”

  1. so sweet. this is Christmas – love and light, family and friends, and pie. love that you used your wedding burlap to make stockings and wrap gifts. Happy Holidays!

    • Thanks again for coming and for bringing your pumpkin pie! You’re so easy to be with–looking forward to seeing you again soon!

  2. this is so very sweet. and incidentally, my darling love read The Gift of the Magi to me just last night, i’d never heard of it before.
    and that dark chocolate tart has been on my list since it was posted last month.

  3. Ah! I think I just started crying a little. You two are so sweet and it warms my heart!

    Also: Thankyou thankyou thankyou for this dark chocolate tart recipe. This girl needs it.

  4. My husband and I do the same thing with an advent calendar each year too! It really makes us feel present during the holiday month, since we get so busy with work. These pies sound amazing! I’m going to have to make the cranberry one, thanks!

  5. We’ve been doing such big things with our Christmases (last year, Asheville, this year, Ireland), that I can’t wait for next year. Maybe then we’ll start our own traditions!

  6. It’s posts like these that make me wish I could keep nuts in the house (darn my Mister’s allergies).

    Maybe I could make this next time I go to my mum’s (and then get thorougly clean afterward.

    Looks divine!

  7. What a beautiful post. Makes me want to just stop for a minute and think about what I can do to make this Christmas special before it’s too late.

  8. Oh, I feel like I say this with every post, but how lovely! I, too, have been thinking a lot about holiday traditions lately. This is our first Engaged Holiday Season, and next year will be our first as Marrieds, and it just gets a girl thinking, doesn’t it? Our families have such different traditions (because, duh, Chanukkah vs. Christmas. Not the same holiday) that I am really having fun thinking of how we want to combine them and start our own. We visit both families every year (the benefit of having different holidays), and decorate our own home with dreidels and stockings (and a 7 foot tree this year!), and I really love creating new traditions together. It’s one of my favorite soon-to-be-married things 🙂 Plus, the colder weather and general merriment of the holiday season is perfect for getting cozy and thinking of traditions and family.

  9. This post just warmed my heart. I love everything about it.

    And I’ll have to admit, I’ve been overthinking what our first married Christmas will be like next year. So much so that I’m afraid I started looking past our first engaged Christmas. Luckily, I have a fiancé to remind me of how much I love this season and how I shouldn’t overlook it.

    Wishing you and Tim the happiest and warmest first married Christmas 🙂

  10. @Kim and @Laken – Love hearing from you two engaged ladies. : ) Tim and I never had an engaged Christmas, but I bet that’s pretty special, too—hope you both have a wonderful holiday, including anticipations of the next one!

  11. Oh, how I love your traditions, your pictures and your writings.
    It’s al just so wonderfull, romantic and creative!
    My heart just melted a little bit.


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