Poor Mans Cranberry Holiday Dessert!

Thanksgiving has passed us but I wanted to share this recipe with you!  It can definitely be remade for the December Holidays or just randomly when you feel like whipping something up that has a seasonal taste.

My family originally employed me to make a delicious, difficult, expensive Cranberry Upside Down Cake from Eating Well.  I was super excited to take this on and to be perfectly honest, it didn’t seem that difficult.  Just a little more time-consuming than I was hoping for.  But, that wasn’t going to stop me!  I was reading over the recipe the day of (not advised) Thanksgiving and realized I didn’t have half of the ingredients.  Whole Wheat pastry flour?  Light brown sugar instead of the regular brown that I always have?  I know, I could have improvised with the sugar but definitely not the whole wheat pastry flour.  I was not about to go to the store on Turkey Day either.

So, I improvised in a better way.  I already had the cranberries, regular brown sugar, butter, granulated sugar and other baking basics.  I saw that I had a good amount of pears and a lemon in the fruit basket so, Voila! I decided to make a Pear and Cranberry Crumble.  It is super easy and I basically made it up as I went along!


Crumble Topping-

  • 2 cups of quick/instant oats
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 (1/2 stick) butter


  • 5-7 pears chopped (doesn’t have to be beautiful; see photo); I used Yellow Bartlett Pears but any will do!  The cheaper, the better!
  • 1 Lemon
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar (you can do more if you would like as it is on the tart side; move up to 1 cup or so if you like it sweeter.  The beauty is it really is up to you!)
  • 12 oz (or smaller) package of fresh cranberries.  (You can do frozen, but not canned)
  • 1 teaspoon of corn starch


  • 9×9 square glass dish, buttered (this is what I used; this recipe can be stretched, shrunk, etc.  Use whatever pan you have!)
  • Cutting board
  • Good, sharp knife; preferably not serrated but what the hell, just use what you have!
  • A Big bowl
  • Oven at 350 degrees

First things first, preheat your oven and butter that pan, baby.

Dump the cranberries in the big bowl and rinse them out.  Drain water, leaving berries in bowl.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze all of the juices from entire lemon into bowl of cranberries.

Cut up the pears as haphazardly as your heart desires. Cubes, trapezoids, and diamond shapes are all acceptable.

Mix the pears in with the cranberry-lemon mixture.  At this time, also mix in the corn starch and granulated sugar.  It is best if you just use your paws.  Even for us economically challenged, the corn starch is necessary.  Hopefully you have some; if not, go borrow some or buy some at the store like for 2 dollars.  It helps thicken the juices of the crumble as it bakes.  Otherwise, you will have a super runny dessert!

Pile the mixture into your greased up baking pan and put to the side for now.

Now, it is time for the crumble topping!  By far the easiest part of this easy recipe but unfortunately, the messiest.  In a bowl, combine your oats, brown sugar, and butter.  Use those hands to kneed and squish it all together into one sugary, buttery, delicious confectionery mass.

Crumble the topping over the fruit in the dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.  It takes some time for the pears and berries to really soften up.  When you check on it, make sure that the juices are bubbling.  The crumble crust will be a nice golden brown as well.

Ta-da! Done!  It isn’t the most gorgeous of baked goods once dished up; just call it an avant-garde, deconstructed pie!  It’s great with a side of vanilla bean ice cream.  The sweet, creaminess has a great juxtaposition with the tart berries.

As long as you don’t go organic, you will easily stay under $20.00 with this recipe and that is if you have to buy everything from the start.  Most of us have instant oatmeal, sugars, and butter in our homes.  It’s the cranberry ($2.00 a bag at Trader Joe’s) and the pears that you will likely have to go out of your way to buy.

Happy Holidays and good luck with the seasonal recipe hunting! Share some of your ideas with me 🙂

3 thoughts on “Poor Mans Cranberry Holiday Dessert!

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