Cranberries are one of those love them or hate them kind of ingredients. I’m firmly in the former camp, someone who looks forward to slurp of the can releasing the processed jellied sauce into its dish each Thanksgiving. So, I was thrilled to see Claire Saffitz include a pie highlighting the signature tartness in her book Dessert Person. Though I had not sought out her recipes previously, I respect her meticulous approach to recipe testing and was excited to give this recipe a shot. And, I will say: wow. This pie is a perfect balance of sweet and tart with a fluffy texture that won’t weigh you down after a substantial holiday meal. She recommends using a graham cracker crust made of speculoos cookies for this pie. I couldn’t find any in my local grocery store, so I made it with cinnamon graham crackers instead and it had a nice hint of spice.
A few of her substitution notes:
You can use frozen cranberries instead of fresh in the compote, just note that you won’t be able to use them for the sugared cranberry garnish, so just skip that part. Look for pomegranate molasses at well-stocked supermarkets or Middle Eastern grocers. If you can’t find any, omit it and replace the 1 cup water in the recipe with 100% unsweetened pomegranate juice. For the sugared cranberries, use ½ cup of the pomegranate juice in place of the water and pomegranate molasses.
Makes one 9-inch pie
- 2 wide strips orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
- 1 cinnamon stick or ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 2 ½ cups (283 grams) fresh cranberries, plus 20 or so for garnish
- 1½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar, divided, plus more for garnish
- 4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, divided
- 2 cups (462 grams) cold heavy cream, divided
- 1½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder(0.17oz/5g)
- 1 Graham Cracker Crust, fully baked in a 9-inch pie plate and cooled
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Make the Pie Filling:
- In a small saucepan, combine the orange zest, cinnamon, salt, cranberries, and 1 cup (198 grams) of the granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons of the pomegranate molasses, and 1 cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring often with a heatproof spatula, until the cranberries have burst and the mixture is very thick and reduced to a jammy consistency, 10 to 15 minutes (it shouldn’t immediately cover the line left by the spatula as you scrape it across the bottom of the pot). Remove from the heat.
- Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl and scrape the compote into the sieve. Set the saucepan aside to use again later. Use the spatula to force the mixture through the mesh into the bowl below, pressing on the solids (discard the solids). Whisk ⅓ cup cream into the compote until the mixture is completely smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate just until the cranberry mixture is cool, 25 to 30 minutes. The cranberry compote can be made up to 4 days ahead. Keep covered and refrigerated.
- Pour 3 tablespoons cold water into a clean saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside to allow the gelatin to soften, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pour 1 cup of the heavy cream (231 grams) into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or into a large bowl if using a hand mixer) and beat, starting on medium-low and increasing the speed to medium-high as cream thickens, until you have firm peaks. You can also do this by hand with a whisk. Refrigerate the bowl until it’s time to assemble the mousse.
- Remove the cooled cranberry mixture from the refrigerator, uncover, and whisk just to smooth it out. Place the saucepan with the gelatin over low heat and warm, swirling often, until the gelatin is melted into a clear liquid free of granules—you want to make sure it’s completely melted or the mousse won’t fully set. Whisk the gelatin into the cranberry mixture.
- Remove the whipped cream from the refrigerator and scrape half of it into the bowl with the cranberry mixture. Fold until just a few streaks remain. Fold in the remaining cream until you have a light, uniform mixture, then scrape into the prepared crust. Smooth the top and refrigerate until the mousse is set, at least 4 hours. After the first hour in the refrigerator, cover the pie with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. The cranberry mousse can be assembled and chilled in the crust up to 1 day ahead. Keep covered and refrigerated.
Make the Sugared Cranberries:
- While the pie is setting, in a small saucepan, combine the remaining ½ cup sugar (100 grams), 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, and ⅓ cup water. Bring to a very gentle simmer over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and add the 20 cranberries. Simmer very gently just until the cranberries are softened and a few have burst, about 3 minutes.
- With a slotted spoon, remove the cranberries from the saucepan and transfer to a wire rack (discard any that have collapsed or lost their shape). Let sit until the cranberries are slightly tacky to the touch, about 1 hour. Toss the cranberries in some granulated sugar to coat them and return to the wire rack to continue drying at room temperature until the pie is set.
Assemble the Pie:
- Just before serving, remove the pie from the refrigerator and uncover. Whip the remaining ⅔ cup cream as before until you have soft peaks. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and scrape the whipped cream on top of the pie. Spread over the filling, making swooshes and swirls, and dot with the sugared cranberries. Cut into wedges and serve.