Mini Cranberry-Orange Shortcakes with Cranberry Compote & Brown Sugar Crème Fraîche

These cranberry-orange shortcakes are essentially a cross between a biscuit and a scone. They make a light base for a rich cranberry compote and a brown-sugar-laced crème fraîche topping. These are designed to be on the small side, since there are usually many desserts on offer on Thanksgiving, but you can make them any size you like, just adjust the baking time accordingly.

a recipe photo of the Cranberry Shortcakes served on plates
Photo: Ali Redmond
Active Time:
1 hr
Total Time:
1 hr 50 mins
Nutrition Profile:


Cranberry Compote

  • ¼ cup dried cherries

  • ¼ cup boiling water

  • 8 ounces cranberries, thawed if frozen

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest

  • ½ cup orange juice plus 2 teaspoons, divided

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch

  • ½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger

  • Pinch of ground cloves


  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 medium orange, scrubbed

  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour

  • 4 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup dried cranberries

  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk

  • Ghee cooking spray or 1 tablespoon melted butter

  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Brown Sugar Crème Fraîche

  • ½ cup crème fraîche or sour cream

  • 1 ½ teaspoons light brown sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla paste or extract


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. To prepare compote: Place dried cherries in a small heatproof bowl. Add boiling water, stir to submerge and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand until the cherries are plumped, about 10 minutes. Drain the cherries and set aside.

  3. Combine cranberries and 1/2 cup orange juice in a medium saucepan; cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until all the cranberries have burst, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt; cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk the remaining 2 teaspoons orange juice, lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl; add to the pan. Add orange zest, lemon zest, ginger, cloves and the drained cherries; cook, stirring often, until the mixture simmers and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

  4. Meanwhile, prepare shortcakes: Place 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl. Zest orange over the bowl so that you don't lose any of the essential oils. (Reserve the zested orange for another use.) Mix the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is fully orange and the consistency of damp sand. Whisk in cardamom, if using. Add all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder and salt; whisk until combined. Add dried cranberries; mix well. Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in buttermilk. Using your hand formed into a claw shape, mix the buttermilk into the flour mixture just until fully combined and no streaks of dry flour are visible. Do not overmix or the shortcakes may get tough. The dough will be shaggy and sticky, but do not be tempted to add more flour or the shortcakes will get dense and bready.

  5. Using about 3 tablespoons to make each shortcake, drop the dough in 16 equal portions 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Coat the tops of the shortcakes lightly with ghee (or brush lightly with melted butter). Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake, 1 baking sheet at a time and rotating the pan back to front halfway, until the edges are lightly browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to overbake, as they will dry out and the bottoms can get tough. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, repeat with the second baking sheet.

  6. To prepare crème fraîche: Whisk crème fraîche (or sour cream), brown sugar and vanilla paste (or extract) in a small bowl until the brown sugar has dissolved.

  7. To serve,use a serrated knife to cut the shortcakes in half. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of cranberry compote on the bottom half. Top with a heaping teaspoon of the brown sugar crème fraîche and place the top half of the shortcake on top.

To make ahead

Scoop shortcake dough (Step 4) onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer to a sealable container and freeze for up to 1 month. Bake frozen shortcakes at 450°F, for about 15 minutes. Refrigerate compote (Steps 2-3) for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

241 Calories
4g Fat
46g Carbs
5g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 16
Serving Size 1 shortcake, 1 Tbsp. compote & 1 tsp. crème fraîche
Calories 241
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 46g 17%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 18g
Added Sugars 9g 18%
Protein 5g 10%
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Vitamin A 125IU 3%
Vitamin C 17mg 19%
Folate 77mcg 19%
Sodium 325mg 14%
Calcium 113mg 9%
Iron 1mg 6%
Magnesium 11mg 3%
Potassium 112mg 2%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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