Make Ahead

Pear, Brandy & Walnut Cranberry Sauce

November  4, 2009
Photo by Bobbi Lin
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. —lifeaswecookit

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Our Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes.

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&M —The Editors

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
  • 1/3 cup, plus 2-3 tablespoons brandy, divided
  • water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, each broken in half
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries, picked over
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 medium bartlett pears, peeled
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted and divided
In This Recipe
  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.
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