One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from blogging is that you can’t please everyone. That’s the sort of thing that would have bothered me more in the past but now gives me amusement and a sense of freedom. Nevertheless, when it comes to specific recipe requests, I love being able to fulfill as many as possible. When I compiled all of the Thanksgiving recipe requests I received, I had to laugh at the nearly even split between those asking for “Pie, all the pies!” and “Anything but pie!” As I mulled over various ideas that extended beyond the usual holiday staples, it hit me – the same exact dessert could be a pie, or not, depending simply on how you assemble the components.

This fluffy lemon mousse swirled with cranberry sauce can be a stunner whether as a gorgeous no-bake pie or as adorable single serving mousse cups. The light texture and refreshing tartness of the creamy filling makes this particularly well suited for serving after a heavy meal. Even better, it can be partially or fully prepped in advance, giving you one less thing to think about on the holiday.

You can go the extra mile and use homemade cookies for the crust or crumble. Alternatively, you can easily use store-bought cookies. If you don’t love gingersnaps or have other things on hand, this would also work beautifully with graham cracker crumbs or even crumbled shortbread. If you make this, I would love to hear whether you were on Team Pie or Team Anything but Pie and how your version turned out. Enjoy, my dears!

  • Prep 15-20 minutes
  • Cook about 15 minutes
  • Yield 6-8 servings


For the crust:

  • 330 grams (about 3 scant cups) gingersnap cookie crumbs
  • 45 grams (3 tbsp.) melted butter

For the cranberry sauce:

  • ¾ cup water, plus more as needed
  • 131 grams (2/3 cup) sugar, plus more to taste
  • 340 grams (12 oz.) fresh or frozen cranberries

For the lemon mousse:

  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. (155 ml.) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 whole large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¾ cup (170 grams) granulated sugar
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cool
  • 1 cup (236 ml) heavy cream, very cold


  • 01

    Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the gingersnap cookie crumbs with the melted butter. Mix with a fork until the mixture clumps together but is not greasy. Add slightly less than half of the crumbs to the pan and press in an even layer to cover the bottom of the pan. Use the remaining crumbs to press against the sides of the pan, coming up at least 2 inches in height. (I use a straight sided drinking glass to evenly and firmly press the crumbs against the pan.) Transfer to the freezer to set for 15-20 minutes.

  • 02

    To make the cranberry sauce, combine the water, cranberries and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the cranberries and bring the mixture to a boil.  Lower the heat and let simmer uncovered, about 15 minutes, until the cranberries have popped and the sauce is thickened.  Remove from heat and let cool. Once the mixture is cool enough to touch, puree it with an immersion blender or food processor until smooth. Strain through a mesh sieve to remove the solids. Store in the refrigerator until ready to assemble your version of the dessert.

  • 03

    To make the lemon cream, bring 2-3 inches of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Set a heatproof bowl over the water without touching it to create a double boiler. In a non-reactive bowl, combine the lemon juice, eggs, egg yolk, sugar, and salt. Whisk together. Continue to whisk until the mixture thickens and reaches 180 ˚ F on an instant-read thermometer (approximately 10-12 minutes.) Remove the bowl from the heat. Cut the butter into tablespoons. Add the lemon cream to a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender in the bowl containing the lemon cream. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, blending or processing each addition until fully incorporated. Strain through a mesh sieve, then transfer to an airtight container and chill before using.

  • 04

    In a medium bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Use a spatula to fold 1 cup of the lemon cream into the whipped cream until evenly combined and no streaks remain.

  • 05

    Spread about half of the lemon mixture into the prepared pie crust. Top with a few scattered spoonfuls of the cranberry sauce and gently swirl together with a skewer or a knife. Top off with the remaining lemon mousse, more dots of the cranberry sauce. Swirl gently once more, then refrigerate to set slightly before serving.

  • 06

    Alternatively to making the pie, spoon layers of the lemon mousse, cranberry sauce, and cookie crumbs into small jars or ramekins for the individual serving option. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

  • 07


  • The cookie crumb mixture for the crust may vary depending on type/brand of cookies you use and their relative moisture and fat content. It may be necessary for you to adjust the amount of cookie crumbs or butter accordingly, so you have a texture that clumps and can be pressed into the pan, but that is not greasy.
  • I used this recipe for gingersnaps and left off the sugar sparkle step.
  • If you want to prep this in advance, make the lemon cream, cranberry sauce, and crust or gingersnap crumbles ahead of time. Assemble a few hours before serving for best texture. The longer the dessert is assembled before serving, the soggier the cookie crumbs will be so though the flavor will still be good, wait to pull it all together for optimal texture.