I’ll admit it: I’m a bona fide Thanksgiving side dish fanatic. Give me stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes, and green beans, and that otherwise compelling 15-pound turkey doesn’t garner a second glance. But one side dish I’ve tried my darnedest to love, without a modicum of success, is cranberry sauce.
It perplexes me. Cranberry sauce itself is sweet, tart, and at times quite sugary—the epitome of what I love in dessert. Nonetheless, every year that sad little maroon dollop sits forlorn on the outlying corner of my plate, as I greedily gobble my second helping of gravy-laden mashed potatoes.
Then I came across this cranberry upside-down cake. It showcases the essence of that traditional sweet-tart side dish, but when the berries are combined with butter, sugar, and pecans, and burrowed into a slice of cake, this dessert will vie for prime position on my Thanksgiving table. It turns out that while cranberry sauce makes me shudder, I do love desserts with the berries in them. Finally, I can explore my tart side: while I might skip cranberry sauce at dinner, I can certainly enjoy a little Thanksgiving tradition at dessert.