The perfect retro pie made with Jell-O and Cool Whip. Pinky sweet cranberry pie topped with lightly whipped cream and, at the very last minute, chocolate covered pretzels. This sweet lady is this year’s unexpected and delightful Thanksgiving pie.
Every Thanksgiving my family is just chasing the high of my grandmother’s cranberry sauce. It’s a creamy pale pink sauce? spread? dip? dessert? It’s everything and honestly my favorite dish on the table. It’s an elusive mixture of cranberry jello, canned cranberry sauce (? probably) and sour cream. I’m certain it’s simple, as with most dishes Mommom made, but I consider it elusive because it’s one of those recipes I refuse to learn. It’s none of my business – mostly because it tastes better when someone else makes it.
For our pie offering this year, you know what to do and the answer is make Dad’s Perfect Sweet Potato Pie. But aside from the classic, here’s a wildcard dessert table offering. It’s like eating a sweet pink cloud. You’ll barely need but a whisper of space in your belly to enjoy it. And this cranberry pie sets in the refrigerator so all the oven stress can be dedicated to the bird and toasting the sides.
Here’s how. Let’s fall in love with this baby.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this fluffy, creamy cranberry pie:
• chocolate cookie crumbs
• unsalted butter
• granulated sugar
• fresh cranberries
• orange zest
• cranberry Jell-O
• Cool Whip
• heavy cream
• kosher salt
• vanilla extract
• powdered sugar
• chocolate covered pretzels or dark chocolate, coconut oil, and pretzels to dip your own
I used my favorite Goldtouch Pro Nonstick Pie Pan from Williams Sonoma for this sweet pie!
We’ll start with the crust because that’s the only bit that needs a bake in the oven. Crush chocolate cookies and I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that I scraped the cream out of Oreos and crushed the cookie rounds in a food processor to crumbs. A bit much to be sure, but – the lengths I won’t go to for a black cocoa crust. Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers are scrape-free alternative but may be a bit tricky to find in stores. I suspect this pie would also be delicious with a crust made from boxed crisp gingersnap cookies so don’t fret the chocolate cookies too much!
Mix the crumbs with a sprinkle of sugar, a pinch of salt and a few tablespoons of melted butter. Press into a pie dish and bake until fragrant and toasty, about 12 minutes.
While the crust baked, simmer a small saucepan of fresh cranberry sauce with a bag of berries, water, sugar, and a few inches of orange peel over medium heat. Mix until the mixture is thick and most of the berries have burst.
How to make this cranberry pie even easier:
• Use a store-bought cookie crust. Chocolate or graham cracker – whatever suits you.
• Use canned cranberry sauce instead of making your own. Get the whole berry kind. It’ll taste great!
Set the pie plate aside and let’s bring together the filling. Add cranberry Jell-O to a large bowl.
I found cranberry Jell-O at Walmart. If you feel like any other red Jell-O will do – I’d agree with you, in a pinch. The flavor will be a bit different but still delicious!
Boil water and whisk into the powdered gelatin. Whisk for a full two minutes to fully dissolve the powder. Stir in ice cold water – that is to say, cold water with ice melted into it. Whisk to cool the gelatin. You’ll notice it thicken just slightly as you whisk.
Stir in the Cool Whip, in batches, to smooth and pale pink.
Stir in the cooled or canned cranberry sauce. Set the bowl in the refrigerator to chill and thicken slightly for 30 minutes. If your batter feels very looses, don’t fret – it will set in the fridge with time!
Pour the chilled filling into the cooled pie crust.
Cover the cranberry pie recipe in plastic wrap. Let the plastic wrap touch the surface of the pie. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours though overnight is best.
To finish the pie, whip heavy cream to soft peaks. Uncover the set pie and swoop cream over top.
Just before slicing and serving, top with chocolate dipped pretzels. Do it for the crunch, for the echo of chocolate, and just to remember that life is fun.
You’ll love this gem of a pie, friends! It’s a fluffy cranberry dream. If you wonder what Mommom’s famous cranberry sauce tastes like – this is it! And just like that, you’re part of the fam!
Recipe below but if you’re looking for a more traditional pie moment, consider the Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie.Print
A light and airy cranberry pie perfect as retro option this holiday season!
For the Crust:
- 1 2/3 cups (7 ounces) chocolate cookie crumbs
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
For the Cranberry Sauce:
- 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- pinch of salt
- 2 orange peel slices
For the Pie Filling:
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- 1 (3 ounce) package Cranberry Jell-O
- 1 cup cold water (ice water, but the ice is completely melted)
- 1 (8 ounce) tub Cool Whip
- 1 heaping cup prepared cranberry sauce, cooled
Top the Topping:
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- Splash of vanilla extract
- Pretzels dipped in melted chocolate with a spoonful of coconut oil.
- To make the crust, place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, sugar, salt, and melted butter. Use a rubber spatula to stir until evenly combined. Spoon the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and use clean and lightly dampened hands or the flat bottom of a measuring cup to press the crust along the bottoms and sides of the pie dish.
- Bake for 12 minutes until just crisped and remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
- To make the cranberry sauce, in a medium saucepan combine cranberries, sugar, water, salt, and orange peel. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low and the cranberries pop and cook down. Simmer for 10 minutes, until berries have broken down and sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and remove orange peels. Set aside to cool.
- To make the pie filling, in a medium bowl stir boiling water into cranberry gelatin and whisk until it dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add the cold water and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken.
- Stir in the whipped topping with both a whisk and a rubber spatula until well combined. Stir in the cooled cranberry sauce. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes until the mixture is thickened.
- Scoop cranberry filling into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap so the plastic wrap touches the surface of the pie filling. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.
- Before serving make the whipped cream by beating heavy cream, powered sugar, and vanilla extract to soft peaks. Dip pretzels in melted chocolate and let cool for an extra special finish. Just before serving spoon whipped cream on top of pie and dot with pretzels.
- Pie will last up to 4 days covered in the refrigerator but is best served within 2 days.
This pie can be made with store-bought cookie crusts and canned cranberry sauce to make the recipe easier. Also feel free to top the pie with Cool Whip instead of making homemade whipped cream.