I know I said it last year, but it bears repeating: I cannot consider a table without cranberries on Thanksgiving. The trouble with cranberry sauce, that old Thanksgiving standby, is that even those of us who adore it can still only eat so much of it, and some people just pass it up all together. Really though, it’s more of a relish or chutney than a dish itself, so you can’t expect people to take big bucketsful back to their seat. That still doesn’t stop me from planning on a twelve ounce bag for every 2 – 3 guests, despite all rational common sense.
Last year I decided to get my cranberry fix in twofold; one with my No-Bake Cranberry Cheesecake, the other my Ginger-Orange Cranberry Sangria. The cheesecake softens the sharp sourness of the cranberries, while the sangria balances it with sweetness. But I still want that characteristic tartness of real cranberries. Enter Cranberry Spice Cake.
Whole, fresh cranberries are folded into a cake batter, spiked with warming, cozy spices that were practically made for the season: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. The tart, lip puckering bite of the cranberries are contrasted by these so well—a bit like sprinkling chili powder over fresh peaches or papaya, or cayenne pepper in chocolate—but I take it a step further by steeping fresh ginger in cream, which I sweeten, whip, and cascade over the punchy cake. I love the cream with it, and quite a bit of it, because I think it takes the edge off the berries a bit, but still leaves their sharpness ever-present.
If you’re looking for something a little different from pumpkin or pecan pie you can’t go wrong with this, especially you’re a cranberry lover like me. It’s the perfect dessert for the holidays and, off the record, any leftovers make a pretty good breakfast. I mean, I would imagine it would… Not like I would do that.
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