America’s favorite tart berry is, in fact, one of only three fruits indigenous to North America. Cranberries are grown in the Pacific Northwest and parts of Wisconsin but are primarily found in the Northeast. Wild cranberries have been consumed and used in herbal remedies by the Native Americans as early as the sixteenth century, so it’s not difficult to see why this particular fruit would have become a staple of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that a Revolutionary War veteran cultivated cranberries on a commercial scale in Cape Cod. Also, at this time, a more efficient wet-harvesting method was introduced, an improvement over the tedious task of picking by hand. Cranberries are now grown in bogs, which are flooded with water during the harvest in the autumn. The ripe berries, which are hollow inside, come free from the plants and float.
These buoyant little berries are famous for their face-puckering punch, but they also have healing attributes. Cranberries have now reached “superfood” status for their high nutrient and antioxidant properties. They’re enjoyed cooked, dried, or juiced into a variety of drinks, but you’ll be hard pressed to find someone willing to eat a fresh berry. In any form, they deliver a recognizable tart and tannic zing.
Cranberry Apple Crisp with Grand Marnier Mascarpone
CRANBERRY APPLE FILLING
- 1 16- ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
- 2 cups apples peeled cored and cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup orange juice from about 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon orange zest from about 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of kosher salt
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
- ►Heat oven to 350°F. Butter an 11x7 baking dish.
- ►CRANBERRY APPLE FILLING: Combine frozen cranberries, apples, brown sugar, cornstarch, orange juice, zest, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
- ►OATMEAL CRISP: Combine oats, brown sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon in another bowl. Add butter and use your hands to incorporate into the oat mixture, rolling it between your fingers into pea-sized pieces.
- ►Pour cranberry filling into baking pan in an even layer. Distribute oatmeal topping evenly over the filling. Place on middle rack of oven and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until filling is bubbling and topping is golden brown. Cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
- ►MASCARPONE TOPPING: Whip mascarpone and Grand Mariner together until fluffy in a mixer or by hand. Put a dollop of mascarpone on top of each serving.