How to Explain Cranberries

This will be the first year since I have been living in the US that my parents will get to spend Thanksgiving with us. It’s very exciting to be able to share a holiday meal with them. I grew up in a large family where holidays and gatherings revolved around food. We always had at least thirty people around the table. Space was always an issue but it never stopped us. Improvised tables, mismatched silverware, borrowed chairs. It was all fine as long as we could all be together, elbow to elbow. So this year, I am really going to sit at the Thanksgiving table, take time to enjoy the moment and be thankful for their company.

As my mom and I sat down to write down the Thanksgiving dinner menu, I realized how most of the traditional American holiday dishes are foreign to my parents’ palates. Roasted turkey, stuffing, yams with marshmallows or cranberries. They have never tasted any of those. I have to admit I am not very fond of the cranberry jellies and compotes served at many dinner tables, but I really wanted my mom to try a new berry, something she had never had before.

Warm fruit crisps are always a comforting dessert and my mom happens to love cooked apples in any way, shape or form. So I combined sweet apples with tart cranberries and spicy candied ginger and topped it all with pistachio and almond crumble. And because us Europeans really enjoy fruit compotes in jars (check out these lovely ladies here and here), I made her a little cranberry and orange compote to go with a quick white chocolate mousse. I am not much of a white chocolate fan unless it is accompanied by something tart and sour to balance out the sweetness so I barely added any sugar to the cranberry compote.

Cranberry, Apple and Candied Ginger Crumble

100 grams fresh cranberries
2 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and medium diced
100 grams sugar
5 grams candied ginger, small dice
Zest of an orange
Juice of half an orange
Pistachio and almond crumble (use half ground pistachios and half ground almonds)

In a bowl, combine the fresh cranberries, diced apples, diced ginger, sugar, orange zest and orange juice. Mix gently and let the fruit sit in the bowl for a few minutes until the sugar starts to lightly dissolve with the juices.

Place 4 small ramekins on a sheetpan. Spoon the fruit filling into the ramekins and top with some pistachio and almond crumble. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes or until the fruit starts to bubble over and the crumble is golden brown. If the topping starts to get dark but the fruit is not cooked yet, cover the ramekins with aluminum foil so it doesn’t burn and continue cooking.

Cranberry Orange Compote

100 grams fresh cranberries
20 grams sugar
Zest of half an orange

Combine the cranberries, sugar and orange zest in a small saucepan and cook for about 10 minutes until cranberries pop open. You can serve it like this or puree it with a hand blended or food processor (which I did). Spoon the compote into the glass jars and let it cool.

Quick White Chocolate Mousse

150 grams heavy cream, soft peak
75 grams white chocolate, chopped

Place the white chocolate in a bowl and melt it over a double boiler. Remove the bowl from the heat when the chocolate is melted and let it cool slightly.

In the meantime, whip the cream to soft peak. Pour a third of the whipped cream into the chocolate and whisk. Pour this mixture over the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold not to overmix it.

Place the mousse in a pastry bag and pipe into the glass jars on top of the cooled cranberry compote. Return jars to refrigerator to cool completely and until the mousse hardens a bit more. Serve with white chocolate shavings.

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59 Responses to “How to Explain Cranberries”

  1. leaca says:

    That looks so good. That is so exciting that you get to have your parents for the holidays.

  2. weston says:

    yams with marshmallows?

    Cranberries and White Chocolate work so well together and I dont even like White Chocolate.

  3. cindy* says:

    mmm, i love the tartness of cranberries…and combined with the ginger, wonderful!

  4. FeeMail says:

    i would really like to taste this, but in germany it’s really hard to get cranberries… so, i think i have to dream about it!! not difficult with your pictures…

  5. Christy says:

    I’ve only tasted dried cranberries, since there are no fresh ones available here. But I agree that the tartness is a good foil to many other sweet, sugary dessert ingredients. Ginger, cranberries and apple sounds especially good! Great idea on combining the compote with the white choc mousse. And so simple too. Excellent treat!

    I’m glad that your parents are enjoying their time in the States!! And Thanksgiving is arguably one of the best American holidays to spend with family!!

  6. Que suerte tener tus papás de visita! Si, la verdad es que toda la comida de Thanksgiving es un poco diferente de los estamos acostumbrados en Europa, pero seguro que les gusta. El crumble fue perfect para presentarla a las cranberries.

  7. I fall in love again and again every time I come here to see the mervellous you make!!

  8. Esti says:

    qué bien que puedan estar contigo este año! me he visto reflejada en el primer parrafo… para mí también es importante que nos juntemos todos para las celebraciones, no importa el espacio… segun me hago mayor, más disfruto de la familia. Ellos me evn como soy… creo

  9. Bea says:

    Lovely dessert, of course. And such a special time that you are able to share with your parents. We are celebrating at a friend’s place — a wine expert and great cook — and I am in charge of appetizer and dessert ;-) so there has been some planning too.

  10. Bridget says:

    I love the picture of the empty bowls and spoons! :)

  11. 30 people at one home meal?!? That sounds like a lot to handle both in terms of preparation and in clean up. Phew!

    Nice looking crumble recipe!

  12. suzie says:


    i wish my family are more into desserts…. so i get someone to finish it.

    mind me, how do you make your picture so bright? don’t look like artifical lights at all??
    Is it really good weather over yours? *jealous*

  13. Aran says:

    esti- Es que creo que a los vascos eso nos viene en el ADN no? Tengo una amiga aqui que es de padre catalan y madre suiza y ella se crio en Barcelona que nunca celebra la navidad. Lo respeto, pero me da una pena… con lo bien que se esta en una mesa con amigos y familia!

    Bea- your Thanksgiving sounds like it will be a good one!

    Dana- yes, it was a big production. Luckily, we had a commercial kitchen in the family bakery so everything was cooked there and brought to my grandparents flat which was right above the bakery. oh how i miss the crowds!

    Suzie- yes, i only use natural light. but i live in south florida so i’m lucky that way!

  14. wow everything looks divine. I m European too and i had a hard time to find cranberries and only found the dried ones. Although i must say i m not that keen on their taste. the crumble look delicious

  15. nadia says:

    Beautiful! I love family holiday dinners and will include this crumble on the menu! When I first moved to the cape we were surrounded with cranberry bogs, it is amazing to see them harvest the berry-they drown the whole field and the berries float to the top- i stared at the process many times. the white chocolate mouse looks delicious..mouth watering in fact and the photograph of the berries is lovely!

  16. GAWD you’ve got me thinking I should make this divine looking crumble..when I know I can’t be trusted near any crumble mix.
    I’m incorrigable around raw ingredients :(
    Must learn to stay vicarious..must learn…must…

  17. what a beautiful post aran…to create something new for your parents to taste in a way that would be familiar to them…now that is cooking with love in your heart…and how nice to spend the first thanksgiving with them! it’s my favorite holiday, not about gifts but about thanks and being with those you love..(and i love the crumble recipe—will be making it for sure on thanksgiving!!)

  18. Gorgeous dessert. My in-laws are Japanese, so we have a mixture of American traditional and Japanese traditional. That means turkey and rice. Again, beautiful beautiful post and photos. Your talent and love for food makes me smile.

  19. Inne says:

    Same here Aran, there is such a difference between the UK and mainland Europe, and that’s without thanksgiving. I would love to make a proper British xmas lunch one day, with all the trimmings – it’s on my list of things to do and try.

    Your parents are lucky, to celebrate the holiday with you. Your menu sounds wonderful – not too sure about the yams with marshmallows, but I guess it’s a must-try. Love the choc shavings on your compote/mousse.

  20. Aran says:

    Inne- i never, ever eat the yams with marshmallows! :)

  21. Aran: you ROCK! I am printing the recipe out for the Crumble.

  22. jennifer says:

    I was traveling overseas last year over t-day so I missed my family’s usual spread. I have to say that I’ve never craved turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes (and most of all) cranberry sauce more. Sadly, by the time I came home, all the leftovers were gone…

  23. limonana says:

    these look so delicious! & such a lovely post…it is so special to share new things with ones parents, they must enjoy your cooking immensely…

  24. tara says:

    It is a cold day where I am, with our first dusting of snow arriving yesterday … the shower of icing sugar in your photo seems to evoke a light snowfall perfectly. Just gorgeous.

    I do believe I am smitten by your polka-dotted cutlery.

  25. Candace says:

    Your parents will love it!

    My inlaws try to come (from Germany) every other year for Thanksgiving. They talked about it so much when they went home the first time that I ended up doing the ENTIRE turkey day feast for my sister in law when she visited in JANUARY! She didn’t understand the turkey and cranberry thing until she tried it!

  26. Sophie says:

    I agree with you about the white chocolate, cranberries were the perfect choice to pair it with. Apples are also one of my favorite fruits, they only taste more delicious when they’re prepared in a tasty dessert like this :).

  27. Tartelette says:

    All we need is some snow Missy!! Looks very dreamy, lovely.
    Well, I just got a small turkey for our pre-Tday dinner with our friends, we’ll just do eat wednesday intead, ehehe!
    No cranberries in France too, but there is something similar called “airelles”, smaller and more tart. Good for savories but not that great in sweets.

  28. What a joy to have your parents here. I’m sure they will love trying all those new flavors. Have a wonderful time and these look fantastic!!!

  29. Your white chocolate mousse looks luscious and I imagine the perfect pairing to tart cranberries….thanks for the recipe!

  30. Mrs.French says:

    not your average cranberry concoctions…so much better! I have told you lately how I have thoroughly enjoyed watching you and your photography grow? Well I have, just thought you should know….xo t

  31. Millie says:

    Hi Aran – we’ve only just started to see cranberries here in Australia (imported from Canada), but only in their dried form, I think they’re called craisins.

    Of course, Christmas here in Australia falls smack in the middle of our long, hot summer, but as usual, most of us crazy Aussies do the traditional European thing.

    It might be well over 100F., but a lot of us will be slaving over a hot oven basting the turkey, roasting the vegies, doing the baked ham & steaming the Christmas Pudding! Of course, all washed down with a big Australian shiraz -we must have rocks in our heads!
    Millie ^_^

  32. cookworm says:

    Hope you have a great Thanksgiving. I love introducing my own European to our American foods and traditions (he doesn’t quite get the pumpkin pie thing yet, though). The crisp looks delightful!

  33. Jen Yu says:

    Aran, there is something so lovely and magical about every thing you make. They’re almost too pretty to eat. I hope your parents really enjoy T-giving. I too am not so fond of white chocolate, but find it is nice with a good tart fruit. Personally, I always crave seafood for Thanksgiving :) xxoo

  34. apples, ginger, and cranberries, hooray! that sounds like a devilish trio.

    i love explaining indigenous foodstuffs to foreigners. but i like it even more when they explain them to me! ah i drive away from here for thanksgiving holiday one week from tuesday! hooray!

    your spoons make me so happy. i have a thing for red and white polka dot dishware.

  35. PheMom says:

    That is so fun that you’ll get to spend the holidays with your parents here! You know, your pictures are so amazing, I swear, if you just made a picture book (drool proof of course) I wouldn’t even complain about not getting the recipes! (OK, I’d only complain a little). :)

  36. vale says:

    Complimenti per il blog e per le ricette son bellissime!!!!

  37. Y says:

    I love cranberries, and am almost embarrassed to say I’ve never had a fresh one before! (you can’t get them here, although I think I’ve seen them frozen before). Love that white chocolate mousse dessert, and that crumble sounds very special too.

  38. SteveB says:

    Aran, I love cranberries and your cranberry crumble is a great idea for our Thanksgiving Day table. I live in Massachusetts, not far from the site of the original Plimoth Plantation, where the first Thanksgiving meal was held.

  39. I love crumble. To be honest, apart from cranberry juice, I have not tried using cranberries in dessert making. This is truly a great post cos I know know the way to eat cranberries

  40. Aran tus post SIEMPRE son bonitos y tienen fotos preciosas, pero este especialmente, los tarros de cristal, los restos del crumble, las tonalidades rojas … las cucharas de topos

    Que bonito todo!!!
    Thanksgiving es un concepto muy bonito que deberíamos copiar aquí

  41. Me says:

    What a wonderful idea! I’m not always a huge fan of traditional cranberries. This is a lovely alternative.

  42. I still remember my first Thanksgiving. It was in France and cooked entirely by my American husband to be in his minuscule Parisian kitchen. It was the strangest food I had ever seen, or eaten. the concept of having everything put in my plate at the same time, now that was even stranger. Now I make a mean sweet potato and marshmallow casserole and I cook the turkey each year. Everything in a big heap in everyone’s plate!

  43. Amanda says:

    I’m so relieved your post is entitled “How to Explain Cranberries” and not “How to Explain Why there are Marshmallows in the Yams”!

    We have Thanksgiving in Canada, too, but it’s amazing how differently the holiday is observed. Another month, practically another season, another day of the week (Monday versus Thursday) and most of all, no candied yams and certainly no marshmallows in the main course.

    The first time I heard of the marshmallow thing, I thought “no way, this isn’t for real?” If I’d been a kid at the time, I am sure it would’ve won me over to root vegetables on the spot. Instead, as an adult it nearly put me off them again, haha.

    : )

  44. Vera says:

    Pretty dessert, Aran! I hope your mother liked cranberries.

  45. I so love cranberries that I buy lots of them now that they are in season and freeze them for later use. I really like them in dessert, with or without apples. They particularly good in upside down cakes. They make a delicious sorbet and a very refreshing shrub.

    Pairing them with white chocolate is a lovely combination Ara,

    And for Steve B and the first Thanksgiving…. well, if you are Floridian, you learn the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in St Augustine in 1565 (by Spaniards) and if you are Virginian, you learn it happens it 1619…

    No matter – hope everybody has a lovely one.


  46. SteveB says:

    Sylvie, point well taken. I have to work on being a bit less provincial.

  47. Oh, your parents will surely love this. The ginger will surely offset the cranberries’ tartness deliciously.

  48. Sugar Chef says:

    Have a wonderful time with your family. Because I work all day on Thanksgiving I don’t get to have a family meal and I miss it so much. You’re desserts look wonderful and I am sure will be enjoyed by all.

  49. linda says:

    I guess we’re lucky in the Netherlands, you can get fresh cranberries (not during the whole year though). I think I’ve only seen imported but we grow them on some of the islands.
    I’m not a huge fan but I’d love to try them paired with white chocolate :)

    Did your parents like eating cranberries?

  50. Aran says:

    Linda- yes, they loved them. Thank you!

  51. hee hee, I remember when I was an exchange student in france, looking for cranberry juice (to avoid a UTI, sadly) and trying to explain what a cranberry was to my host family… they looked in the dictionary and insisted it was a gooseberry. I think they didn’t believe me that it existed!!

  52. Jessamyn: If you ever are in France again and looking for cranberries, ask for canneberge (although that words seems to used in Quebec than in France) or Airelles Rouges – although the term cranberry is now coming more in every day language thanks to the food manufacturers who seem to prefer this term.

    There are native cranberries in Northern & Eastern Europe – as well as Eurasia – very close cousins of our North American one.


  53. Jason says:

    Cranberries and white chocolate are two of my favourite things… but you’ve got to try cranberries and butterscotch at some point. It sounds weird, but the combination is AMAZING!
    I’ll post some photos of some cranberry butterscotch cookies soon.

  54. Kevin says:

    Both of those cranberry dishes look great!

  55. Making this soon! My daughter has been asking for this mousse. I think I will use strawberries as it still the season here.

  56. Made it with strawberry compote and topped with wheat flakes! My children loved it and says thanks!

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