Crumbles / Crisps / Fruity Things Desserts

sparkling cranberries + cardamom + lemon pudding

this is my kind of snow ::::



I have a really hard time evading desserts this time of year. Not that I don’t obsesses over them during other times, it’s just that the ideas are just pouring out of cookbooks for the holidays. There are the pumpkin pies, cinnamon-infused teas and drinks, spice cakes, apple something-or-others, and a multitude of loafy, cakey quick breads. If we pile up the juicy turkey, sausage and sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce (canned or otherwise), and whatever other traditional family food you serve, we start feeling … heavy.  A piece of pumpkin pie, no matter how much I love it, pushes me over the edge after that tasty panoply. That edge that changes from panoply to abyss. That edge of feeling like Ugh, why did I eat soooooo much? I’m so uncomfortably full! 


Enter the cranberry and lemon. Cute. Tart. Light. Here it is: the light dessert you’ve been waiting for, after the third helping of stuffing. The mix of lemon and cranberries was a no-brainer for me, reminiscent of a breakfast muffin combination. The tart *pop* of a sugary cranberry with the smooth lemon pudding is a nice pairing: vast textures, similar flavors. A vanilla custard instead of lemon, if you’re looking for something a little heavier,  would do well here too. Plus, the cranberries were a nice project for Peach to help me with, albeit briefly, and the lemon pudding is a favorite with the one-year-old Grub. We all get something out of it.


This recipe works well with frozen cranberries; clear the freezer space now for extra bags of fresh cranberries. Sparkling cranberries year round! Yay!  The lovely Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks recommends for more “sparkle,” use larger grained sugar first, then the granulated sugar. I used just the granulated sugar because I wanted the cranberries to look as snowy as possible. Assembling just before eating is imperative; otherwise, your cranberries will become a little weepy (hygroscopic tendencies, those crybabies!) and the lemon pudding will become soupy. If you want to keep the pudding and the cranberries separate, knowing ahead of time that you may not have a crowd to finish an entirely assembled pudding and cranberries, I see an individually-portioned cutsie bowl adorned with some holiday themed decoration, blooming with a dollop of lemon pudding and a freckling of sugared cranberries, for each guest.

Additionally, the cardamom lends a nice spice layer to the berries that also pairs well with the lemon — don’t miss it unless you are absolutely opposed to the spice, allergic, or have no cardamom at your fingertips. You’ll need overnight to make the cranberries. I started the pudding and cranberries the same day, so that the pudding was perfectly chilled and set by the time the cranberries were ready the next day. Alternatively, you could start early in the morning, give the cranberries at least 8 hours in the simple syrup, and a couple of hours to dry, then complete the dish for a late night dessert, say, after that fourth  helping of stuffing.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, America! We’re off to Southern Cal to visit relatives!



sparkling cranberries + cardamom + lemon pudding
Recipe type: dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • FOR THE LEMON PUDDING: 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup apple juice
  • ⅔ cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoon flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • FOR THE CRANBERRIES: 4 cups fresh cranberries (or frozen and still intact)*
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 1-2 cardamom pods
  • more granulated sugar for dredging the cranberries (large crystal is nice, or regular granulated sugar)
  1. FOR THE PUDDING: Put all pudding ingredients into a double boiler and cook over boiling water, stirring frequently, until thick. Mine was the consistency of runny peanut butter.
  2. Pour into 9 x 9 pie dish (or equivalent) and allow to cool slightly. Gently butter a piece of plastic wrap and place it over the pudding (to prevent the thickened pudding skin formation -- unless you like that kind of thing). Cool completely in refrigerator.
  3. FOR THE CRANBERRIES: Put sugar and water into a medium-large saucepan and bring to almost a boil, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar crystals. Put in the cardamom pods after removing from heat. Put aside to cool. (If you pour the hot liquid over the cranberries, they will pop -- don't do this!) I cooled mine to the point that I could touch the outside of the saucepan with my hands without it feeling too hot (enough to warm my cold fingers.)
  4. Put the cranberries into a large bowl. Remove the cardamom pods from the simple syrup. Slowly pour the cooled simple syrup over the berries. Cover them and place in refrigerator overnight (or at least 8 hours).
  5. Strain the cranberries from the syrup (which can be saved for flavoring tart drinks). Put small handfuls of the berries into the sugar and roll them around to cover them in the sugar. (Small batches prevents the sugar from getting too wet).
  6. Place the sugared cranberries on a baking sheet to dry for at least 2 hours (up to 4 hours). If they seem wet at this point, re-sugar them and allow to dry another hour. I re-sugared mine just before serving.
  7. ASSEMBLING THE DISH: Carefully place the cranberries in one layer over the top of the pudding just before serving. (If you allow the berries to sit too long on the pudding, the sugar will melt into the pudding and make it soupy. Not a bad thing, but you won't have the sparkling cranberries you set out to make.) I needed only about half of the cranberries to top the pudding. The others make a nice centerpiece and snack before a family dinner.
  8. The cranberries are best eaten the day that they are made but can be placed in the refrigerator for several days (separate from the pudding). Not that they'll last that long if you have cranberry enthusiasts in your home.
* I used a bag of cranberries from last year (!) for this recipe. I promptly went out and bought another (fresh) bag. And now it's in the freezer.


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