Adapted from an old Gourmet magazine recipe by the late food writer and novelist Laurie Colwin, Nantucket cranberry pie is not actually a pie but rather a cross between a pie, a cobbler, and a cake. It is the easiest dessert you can imagine—and, yet, astonishingly delicious. Whole fresh (or frozen) cranberries and pecans are scattered into a pie dish, covered in sugar, and then topped with a simple one-bowl cake batter. As the dessert bakes, the cranberries burst, mingling with the cake batter and pecans to create a dessert that is buttery, tart, sweet, and crunchy.
For the Cranberry-pecan Base
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
- ⅔ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup granulated sugar
For the Topping
- 12 tablespoons (¾ cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon coarse sparkling or turbinado sugar, for topping
- Heat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
- Make the cranberry-pecan base: Add the melted butter to a 9-inch deep-dish pan and swirl it around to grease the sides (or use a pastry brush to brush the butter on the sides). Spread the cranberries and pecans evenly in the pan and sprinkle with the sugar. Set aside.
- Make the topping: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on low speed until combined. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat until smooth. Beat in the flour and salt until evenly combined.
- Pour the batter over the cranberries and pecans in the pan, using a spatula to spread it evenly. Sprinkle the top evenly with the sparkling/turbinado sugar. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. (Keep in mind that the bottom of the dessert will remain gooey, so just check the cakey top.)
- Remove the cake from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or topped with unsweetened or very lightly sweetened whipped cream (the dessert is plenty sweet as is, and unsweetened cream is a nice foil; ice cream is a bit too sweet for this dessert).
Make-ahead instructions: The dessert can be made up to one day ahead of time. Cover loosely with foil and store on the counter at room temperature.
Top photo courtesy Once Upon a Chef.