Today, I am thankful for canned whipped cream.
I recently discovered the canned cream product, after what now seems like a lifetime of deprivation.
It was likely one of those things, like Stove-Top, that made my mom turn her nose up in the grocery aisle. I had no idea boxed stuffing – or whipped cream in an aerosol can – existed until recently.
I haven’t actually bought whipped cream (tub or aerosol variety) in a while. Not since I discovered how easy and less expensive it is make at home. But as tasty as my homemade whipped cream is, it’s hard to get that stiffness you need to really make it look good.
I’ve been sifting through my grandmother’s recipe tins again, looking for something special to make for Thanksgiving. I’ve had some real home runs with her creations, such as those Honey & Soya Sauce Chicken Wings that got such a positive response. But sometimes her instructions can be downright confusing. Because to her, a recipe card wasn’t definitive – it was a guideline, something to trigger her memory. For the most part, I think she made many dishes off the cuff, loosely based on some suggestion or skeleton of a recipe she saw in the newspaper.
This was intimidating to me at first, and for a long time I avoided any recipes that weren’t abundantly detailed. Which, unfortunately, was almost all of them.
But I’m getting more confident now. I’m learning more, I’m trying more and I’m willing to take a few risks. So when my finger came across this recipe when flipping through the multi-colored cards in her tin, I decided to take a chance.
This recipe was one of those more trying tasks. According to my grandmothers recipe, I was to combine all the ingredients in a 2-qt casserole dish and cook them until thickened. There was no temperature, no cook time, no further instructions that would guide me through this pie. I got confused: should I bake the cranberry sauce, since we’re using a casserole dish, or should I cook it on the stovetop, like sauce is normally made?
I tried baking the sauce in the oven, but after 20 minutes of no textural change and a desperate phone call to my mom, I abandoned that plan and went with my initial instinct, which was to cook the cranberries in a pot on the stovetop. Success.
This pie is absolutely gorgeous, with its deep red berries and thick, sticky sauce. But to photograph, it’s pretty one-dimensional, and to be honest, looked kind of like a big hunk of red goo on a plate when I took the initial shot. I got cranky, frustrated and defeated, thinking after all that work, I wouldn’t even be able to put it on my blog. A bit of a minor Thanksgiving meltdown.
Enter the canned cream. A few loops of perfectly swirled white clouds, topped with a sprinkling of sliced almonds and orange zest, and this pie was begging to be photographed.
This recipe is for anyone who’s ever been tempted to eat a bowlful of cranberry sauce on its own. I promise you won’t feel weird cradling a slice of this sweet-tart treat in your post-turkey coma. I added the citrus twist for a punch of flavor, but feel free to omit if you’re only in it for the cranberries.
Makes about 8 slices
Measuring cups and spoons
1 frozen prepared pie shell (or make your own pie crust)
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 cups water
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp orange zest, plus additional for garnish
2 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
Whipped cream, for garnish
Raw chopped almonds, for garnish
Bake pie shell according to package directions.
In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients, stirring well to dissolve cornstarch. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside until cool.
Spoon cooled cranberry mixture into pie shell and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, or until needed. Top with whipped cream, almonds and orange zest.