Shortbread Bars with Cranberry-Port Jam

Sugar Cube_Shortbread Bars
Lisa Warninger
  • Yield: 36 pieces


Cranberry-Port Jam
1 1/2 cups tawny port
1 1/2cups granulated sugar
18ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
1tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 vanilla bean
4cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2teaspoons baking powder
1teaspoon sea salt
2cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2cups granulated sugar
4large egg yolks
1/2 vanilla bean
Zest from 1 lemon
Confectioners' sugar for dusting


  1. To make the cranberry-port jam: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the port, sugar, cranberries, orange zest, salt, and two or three good twists of black pepper. Split the piece of vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife. Add to the pan along with the pod. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring, until the berries burst and the mixture is deep burgundy and as thick as cranberry sauce, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod and purée the mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth and easy to spread. Let cool, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for several hours until cold. (The jam can be made ahead and will keep for several weeks in an airtight container.)
  2. To make the shortbread: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Split the piece of vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife, and add the seeds to the mixing bowl. With the mixer on low, add the lemon zest and dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Divide the dough into two equal portions and shape each into a log. Wrap both in plastic wrap and freeze until very hard, at least 2 hours.

Reprinted with permission from Kir Jensen’s The Sugar Cube (Chronicle Books, 2012).