Pear, Brandy and Walnut Cranberry Sauce

By • November 4, 2009 • 72 Comments


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Author Notes: Growing up, we never ate canned cranberry sauce and my mom always made a cranberry and orange relish for Thanksgiving. But, It wasn't until I was working at a magazine, taste testing for a November issue that I realized all the cranberry possibilities. I started playing around until I came up with this one that I love - the pears add a fall-inspired sweetness, the brown sugar and brandy, richness, and the walnuts, a well-needed crunch. When choosing the pears, I look for ones that are ripe, but still firm. And, feel free to play with the brandy to make the sauce as boozy (or not) as you want.notlazy.rustic.

Food52 Review: In this cranberry sauce, you won't find any of the punishing tartness you get in many -- it's all silk and fragrance. The pears, which are shredded, melt into the sauce. The cranberries soften and soak up the brown sugar and cinnamon. And the brandy smoothes any wrinkles. You add a little brandy in the beginning and some more at the very end, as you stir in toasted walnuts. We've made the sauce with grated apple and it's just as delicious. We've also served it over fresh ricotta -- make sure you have some leftovers so you can try this! - A&MA&M

Serves 6-8 small servings

  • 1/3 cup, plus 2-3 tablespoon brandy, divided
  • water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, each broken in half
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries, picked over
  • 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 medium bartlett pears, peeled
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted and divided
  1. Pour 1/3 cup brandy into liquid measuring cup; add enough water to reach 1/2 cup liquid total. Set aside. Place broken cinnamon sticks and peppercorns in center of small piece of cheesecloth or large tea bag and tie closed using kitchen twine.
  2. In medium saucepot, combine cranberries, brown sugar and cinnamon-pepper bundle. Using large holes on a box grater, grate pears into saucepot. Stir in brandy-water mixture.
  3. Over high heat, bring cranberry mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook 10-12 minutes, or until cranberries have burst and the mixture has combined, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons brandy. Let cool. Remove and discard cinnamon bundle. Stir in 7 tablespoons toasted walnuts. Transfer mixture to small serving bowl; sprinkle with remaining walnuts.

Tags: Holidays, seasonal, Vegetarian

Comments (72) Questions (1)

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3 months ago juicyrebound1

We always make the ground orange, cranberry relish, but this is a great addition to the Thanksgiving table. Aging the sauce does improve the delicious flavors.

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4 months ago helen

I sliced the top off of a small brie wheel, put 2/3 c of this on top, wrapped it puff pastry and baked for my food gifts this year. Everyone loved it.

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5 months ago frizz

Made this on Tuesday and it kept getting better and better throughout the week. It's my new favorite, and I'll be making it for years to come. Thank you so much!

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5 months ago Kate

This was really good, but serves way more than 6-8! One batch fed 14 people yesterday. (Maybe notlazy.rustic's friends eat a lot of cranberry sauce?) Anyway, somebody recommended I try using the leftovers to make empanadas with dulce de leche/cajeta and grappa. I'll give that a go on Monday, but thought I'd share now if anyone else has leftovers they need to take care of.

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5 months ago whmcdevitt

how far in advance can you make this sauce we're having another Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday.....Nov 30th

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5 months ago Kate

I think Antonia James was saying 4 days. I would add the walnuts day of, though.

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5 months ago MummieMummie

Made a mistake & added pecans...have I ruined it? Do I still add the walnuts or just start over?

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5 months ago Sabine Gagnon

I think your cranberry sauce will survive! Pecans are a nice alternative and often preferred by many. I personally wouldn't add walnuts as it might throw of the ratio.

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5 months ago Rachel C.

Just cooked up this recipe, and the flavors are amazing! I never really liked cranberry sauce, but this recipe has definitely converted me.
Instead of brown sugar and brandy (I didn't have either in my house), I substituted in honey and dark aged rum. The flavors of the honey, rum, and pears complemented each other very nicely. I'll be making this recipe every year now!

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5 months ago tulip549

Wow- this was a really good recipe. Next time I will substitute honey for sugar. I added a touch of orange blossom water and used freshly squeezed orange juice instead of brandy (I didn't have any brandy). Thanks!

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5 months ago ss

do you serve this cold or warm?

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5 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Serve it at room temperature. And try to make it at least a day ahead of time, reserving the nuts until shortly before serving (unless you don't mind soggy nuts). It will improve considerably with a day or two of rest. ;o)

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5 months ago Sabine Gagnon

I took this advice from reading your previous comments and wow! It has made a really nice difference. I can't wait to serve it today! Thank you for the tip.

Jz

5 months ago Elise Jordana

LOVED making the recipe and it was a hit with guests! Subbed 1/2 cup of raw honey for the sugar though, still really enjoyed it!

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5 months ago Sabine Gagnon

Just made this tonight in preparation for Thanksgiving! Heavenly! My husband and I tasted the cranberry sauce with and without the walnuts as we were skeptical about the texture and after tasting, the walnuts totally make sense! It rounds it out nicely and gives a great texture. I, admittedly, always have loved the canned cranberry sauce but this is definitely a game changer! Thank you for the recipe!

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5 months ago Mae

This looks great! I would like to make this on Thanksgiving. Do you think I could use dark rum instead of brandy? Rum's got a little bit more of a bite to it, but my shopping list is already wracking up quite a bill!

Jampro

5 months ago Bevi

Go for it!

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5 months ago Sabine Gagnon

I think rum would work great or even sub orange juice for liquor!

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5 months ago Emelia F

Anyone know how long this will last for?

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5 months ago dorothee

I made some last Saturday and had leftovers yesterday - still good! I froze some last week and hope that works out.

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5 months ago ihaventpoisonedyouyet

This smells and tastes amazing!! Doubled the recipe and used 3 pears (all I had) and an apple. Waiting until the day of to add the walnuts. Thanks - I know people are going to love this.

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over 1 year ago Katileigh

I was searching for a cranberry sauce recipe like the one my sister-in-law makes. I found this and like it very much. Not necessarily more than hers, but equally well. I mix it with vanilla yogurt for a light meal... Very heavenly. Now, I just need to persuade her to part with the other one.

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

One of the best cranberry sauces I've ever tasted. It's much, much better after four days. I could really taste the pear on Day 4, where I couldn't before. So elegant, and so perfectly delicious. (We did not add the walnuts, given the nuts in various other dishes. I may stir some into the leftovers I'm looking forward to enjoying later today.) ;o)

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over 1 year ago Ruby Claire

best cranberry sauce i have ever had! i left out the nuts but you can't go wrong. so much dimension!! LOVE LOVE WIN WIN

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I made a batch the night before last. It made my house smell so elegant! And it tastes so good, too. Even better with a bit of extra sitting time. Did not add the walnuts, however, as I do not care much for soggy nuts. ;o)

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over 1 year ago Dorothee

I put them in before serving. You can toast them anytime.

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over 1 year ago TheWimpyVegetarian

AJ, this is my go-to cranberry sauce now. I love, love, love it. I don't use nuts though b/c of my nut allergies :-(

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I can see why. I can easily see this becoming my go-to, as well. It's so perfectly elegant. (Never thought I'd describe a cranberry sauce that way . . . . ) ;o)

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over 1 year ago Dorothee

Made this last year and it was a hit! So much so that I was asked to make it again this year. It is on my list!

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over 1 year ago lexilarkin

this is awesome, highly recommend for thanksgiving, my whole family loved it