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Bette Davis' Cranberry Mousse

Fasten your seatbelts! Bette Davis is going to help us get ready for Thanksgiving.

Bette Davis began her film career in the early 1930s as one of the theatre stars imported to Hollywood during the early sound era. She won the Best Actress Academy Award in 1935 for "Dangerous" and in 1938 for "Jezebel". Overall she earned 10 nominations in a career spanned 50 years. Davis was the first woman to ever be honored with the AFI Life Achievement Award and the first woman to be named President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


This recipe is from the book "Famous Recipes by Famous People" from 1933. This book proved incredibly hard to find, but my friend Christina Rice located it at a library in Austin, Texas. My friend Anna Roland went to the library and sent me scans. It was a team effort!


2 1/2 cups raw cranberries measured after sorting

1 1/4 cups cold water

1 cup whipping cream

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 cup orange juice

1 1/4 cups sugar


Wash cranberries, add cold water and cook slowly until soft, about 15 minutes. Press through a potato ricer. They should be 1 1/4 cups of pulp. Add sugar and cook 10 minutes. There should be 1 1/4 cups jelly. Cool then chill in refrigerator. Chill cream in bowl surrounded by chipped ice and salt. Whip until stiff. Add lemon and orange juice and continue whipping until mass is very stiff. Cut and fold in the cold cranberry pulp lightly but thoroughly. Pour into cold freezing pan and place in refrigerator. Freeze quickly.

Special Guest

Kenton Bymaster is an Ohio born movie fan who relocated to Los Angeles as soon as he was out of high school. He is a fan of Pre-Code, Soap Opera, and collecting and restoring posters. Kenton works at Warner Bros. in Archival Mastering where he has been on staff for over 20 years, is a black cat owner and loves to cook and entertain.

Danny Miller is a journalist, editor and film history expert. He also co-authored the book "About Face: The Life and Times of Dottie Ponedel: Make-up Artist to the Stars" with Meredith Ponedel. He's been very generous about letting me invade his 1909 Craftsman home to shoot this episode!

Final Result

After much discussion, Danny and I decided that Bette's directions were a bit difficult. We didn't see the need to place chipped ice and salt around the bowl. Instead of a pan or jello mold, we poured it straight into glasses, which were put in the freezer. For the garnish, we added a dollop of whipped cream and a cranberry. You could try adding fresh mint or chocolate shavings as well. Overall this turned out well. It is light, fluffy and not overly sweet. This would make a great Thanksgiving dessert and could pare well a slice of Ava Gardner's Souther Pecan Pie.

Collage artwork by Cherie Savoie Tintary.

There were several magazine profiles of Bette Davis at home including this one from Screenland Magazine in January 1935.

She joined forces with John Garfield to co-found The Hollywood Canteen, which provided food, dancing and live entertainment for servicemen during WWII.

Please consider supporting Hollywood Kitchen on Patreon! Thank you for watching and stay tuned for more food, fun and film history.


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