Vinarterta comes to us compliments of Helen Webber’s Icelandic heritage. It has been handed down through her family for generations, and is served only on festive occasions.
From Black Currants & Caribou, page 198.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Icelandic
Servings 72 slices


Shortbread (6 layers)

  • 1 cup butter (no substitute)
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar (375 mL)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. cream OR evaporated milk (30 mL)
  • 1 tbsp. almond extract (15 mL)
  • 4 cups flour (1 L)
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder (5 mL)

Prune Filling

  • 12 oz. pkg. pitted prunes (340 g)
  • ½ cup water in which prunes have been boiled (125 mL)
  • 1 cup white sugar (250 mL)
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon (15 mL)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (5 mL)

Butter Icing

  • ¼ cup butter (4 tbsp.) (60 mL)
  • 2 cups icing sugar (500 mL)
  • 1-2 tbsp. milk (15-30 mL)
  • 1 tsp. almond extract (5 mL)


  • To make the shortbread layers, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well each time. Add cream and almond extract and beat well.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and ground cardamom and add to creamed mixture a little at a time. You will “need” to “knead” the flour into the mixture. (A dough hook is a great boon in today’s kitchen.)
  • Divide the dough into six equal parts.
  • Line a 9″ (23 cm) square baking pan with foil. Pat one part of the dough into the pan. Remove foil with dough, and place on a cookie sheet. Repeat five times. Bake the final piece of dough in the cake pan.
  • Bake the shortbread at 375°F (190°C) for 10-12 minutes, until just lightly browned on the edges. Turn over carefully onto a cooling rack; let cool with the foil on for a couple of minutes, then remove the foil and let cool completely.
  • To make the filling, cover the prunes with water and boil until soft. Add more water if necessary during cooking. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup (125 mL) of water.
  • Put prunes and 1/2 cup (125 mL) of water in a blender and process until smooth. (Helen’s grandmother never had it so easy!) A hand blender also works well.
  • Add sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to pureed prunes in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let cool.
  • Layer cooled shortbread with cooled prune filling, beginning and ending with a shortbread layer.
  • To make the butter icing, mix together all the ingredients until creamy. If the icing is too stiff to spread, add a bit more milk, 1 tsp. (5 mL) at a time. This icing should be a bit on the stiff side.
  • Ice the top of the cake.
  • Wrap the cake in foil or plastic wrap and keep it airtight for 3-4 days. This gives the shortbread layers a chance to soften up.


SERVING SUGGESTION: Slice ½ inch (1.3 cm) slices and cut each slice in 2 inch (5 cm) pieces. (Cut in small pieces like a fruit cake.)
NOTE: This will keep for a month in a cool place. It freezes well for longer storage.

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