Bags containing fresh, multi-red shades of this little super-fruit are decoratively piled high all over the produce department of grocery stores from October through early December. For years, I've made cranberry sauce, breads, muffins, strung them with popcorn for Christmas trees, but I had never just popped a fresh, crisp and tangy cranberry in my mouth…until now! This may sound ridiculously naive, but I thought they needed to be cooked first.
Aren't these sweet, twinkly, sparkly cranberries the cutest things?!! When I found the recipe for my last post, Chocolate Cranberry Fudge Cake, on the Ocean Spray Cranberry website, the cake was garnished with these sparkling jewels, along with mint leaves - it was so beautiful and festive! I was determined to find out how they were made, since my cake was not going to be as pretty without them!
My source, 101 Cookbooks, offered a wonderful recipe! They are simple to create; however, plan ahead, since they need to "marinate" in a simple syrup overnight, then a couple sugar tossings the following day. Once the sugar is dried and crunchy, start munching away. They have an awesome sweet and sour flavor, almost candy-like. The Sparkling Sugar Cranberries can be used for garnishing your Thanksgiving food platters, on crackers or crostini with a creamy cheese, twinkling on your Christmas cookie trays, or just placed in a pretty bowl to eat!
A few fun cran-facts: raw cranberries are loaded with nutrients and anti-oxidant qualities. Fresh cranberries will last up to one month in your refrigerator, or freeze them right in their bag. When freezing, do not rinse them first. According to Ocean Spray, they will keep in your freezer for one year! It will then be time for the new fall's fresh ones to be in the grocery stores again. Use the cranberries frozen in your recipes, do not thaw - just rinse them off when ready to use, and add them to your breads or muffins in a frozen state. Ok, I've persuaded myself to freeze a bag or two for my favorite "orange cranberry and walnut streusel muffins throughout the year." :)
Until next time…mangia! xox
Sparkling Sugar Cranberries
Makes 2 cups
Ingredients for simple syrup:
2 cups cranberries (rinsed and picked over)
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
Ingredients for coating:
turbinado sugar for first coating
granulated sugar for second coating
Create the Sparkling Sugar Cranberries:
Place the cranberries in a medium glass bowl and set aside.
Make a simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar just to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Let the syrup cool for a couple minutes and then pour it over the cranberries. If the syrup is too hot the cranberries will burst, so be careful. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, drain the cranberries (don't rinse) and toss them with the larger grained sugar until they are well coated. Use small amounts of sugar and cranberries at a time, so the sugar doesn't get too damp. Use another bowl or cookie sheet for tossing. Place the coated cranberries on a clean baking sheet (I lined it with parchment) to dry for a few hours.
Do a second toss with the granulated sugar, this typically takes care of any sticky spots on the cranberries. Let dry another hour. I actually did my second toss right on the parchment lined cookie sheet (picture 3 above).
For my first time creating these, I used the turbinado sugar for the first coating. The larger grain gives a bit of a crunch. If you don't have turbinado sugar, it will work just fine to use granulated sugar for both coatings. Experiment. :)
Don't put the sugared cranberries in the refrigerator after making them. This will cause them to get wet and sticky. Mine were used up in two days, but they should be fine for up to 3 or 4 days.