Tuesday, November 13, 2012

sparkling sugar cranberries




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

Carol






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).

Carol's note:
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.




38 comments:

  1. These are so pretty, Carol! Love the idea of using them to decorate a holiday table!

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    1. Thank you, Laura! It's funny, as I was writing the post I was thinking of a bunch of great uses. A holiday table would be lovely - with greens! :)

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  2. They are incredibly festive and so easy to make! I bet it works with grapes too.

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    1. Thanks, Paula! Great idea! Definitely worth a try! :)

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  3. This picture is amazing! Love the rich red color of the cranberries with the sparking sugar & the little bit of green in the glass dish! I love the recipe/process as well. I like the idea of using grapes but am not sure you can top the look you have with the cranberries. The stores now sell the very small grapes in bunches. I am wondering if using this process with the bunches would work? I think that could make another awesome display. Thanks Carol, I love your blog!

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your sweet comment, Fran!!!

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  4. Oh yes, I am making these!!! They are so incredibly beautiful, they really add an elegant touch to so many things!

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    1. Thank you so much, Faith!!! You will really enjoy them! :)

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  5. This works great on grapes and kumquats. My mom made these for many years to garnish turkey and ham platters as well as tiered stands of sweets. So nice!

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  6. Every year I use half a bag of cranberries for some kind of cranberry sauce creation, and then stick the other half in the freezer, but never remember to use it! Now thanks to your tips on storing the cranberries (I didn't know they would last that long in the fridge), and baking with the cranberries (while still frozen), I think I might need to invest in two bags this year! At the very least, I want to reserve some to make these little gems!

    Thank you for all sorts of cranberry inspiration : )

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    1. Allison, thanks so much! I'm so happy you found the little tidbits helpful. I learn a lot myself when I'm doing research for the post. Enjoy the sugared cranberries!

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  7. Almost too pretty to eat! Fantastic idea for the holiday table.

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    1. Thank you very much, Kristen! Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. With enough time, they will make it to my Thanksgiving table for sure. I've seen grapes done this way, but I like cranberries better. They are on my grocery list for sure.

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    1. I hope you're able to try them - they don't take much time at all, just planning ahead! Enjoy, and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

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  9. they are so pretty. I'm thinking about Christmas table more than Thanksgiving. I think I'll make some and mail them to my MIL, she'd love it!

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    1. Thank you, Roxana! Christmas table is perfect! Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  10. I agree with you Carol- these cranberries are sparkling jewels and were just beautiful on your chocolate cake!!!

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    1. Thanks so much, Patty! Have a wonderful weekend!!

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  11. Those cranberries look magical! So pretty - love this post!

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    1. Ashley, thank you so much for your sweet comment, and for stopping by acom!!!

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  12. These look just divine! What a great festive Christmas treat! The way they glisten looks so beautiful too :)

    Chloe & Sarah

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    1. Thank you, Chloe & Sarah!! They really are very festive - even more beautiful in person!

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  13. So sparkly and beautiful! I've made sugared cranberries, but they were coated in raw egg white...not so great to pop in your mouth! I like your version much better!

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    1. Hi Lizzy! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, these cranberries are made for popping in your mouth, quite addicting I might add! :)

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  14. What gorgeous berries! Besides being healthy, they would be so impressive gracing any buffet. Thanks so much! I look forward to trying this.

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    1. Thank you so much, Vespa! So happy you enjoyed the post, and are going to give them a try! :)

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    1. Thanks so much for the kind comment and for stopping by acom!!!

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  16. I'm no sure what I did. I didn't think it was possible to mess up sugar, more sugar, and even more sugar, but somehow I did. They had the crunch but my husband said they had an odd aftertaste. He later said the aftertaste reminded him of an antiseptic. My 2 year old loves them though, could it have been the syrup? A couple of the cranberries split and I didn't take them out but let them sit in the simple syrup with the rest of the berries.

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    1. Good morning, Vicky! If the cranberries had a crunch from the sugar coating, you did nothing wrong! Sounds like you did everything right! The cranberries splitting came from the simple syrup being too hot. Next time let it cool down a little more prior to pouring on the cranberries; otherwise, they will split, or burst. I can't answer to your husband's taste :), but I'm so happy your 2 year old loved them! My grandchildren did too! Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Carol xox

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  17. I've got these on the go, ready for Christmas Eve! I'm wondering if I can do anything with the left over syrup. It seems like a big bowl to just pour down the drain. Even though it's had cranberries soaking in it for hours, do you think I could use it for something else?

    They look amazing and I may have popped one in my mouth after the first sugar coating ;)

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    1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by acom to comment on the sugared cranberries! They're hard to resist even after the first sugaring! :) A couple of the main uses for simple syrup would be for cocktails, and brushing on cakes or cupcakes. If you would like to google "simple syrup uses," you can find cocktail recipes that use simple syrup. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!!!

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  18. I made this for our Christmas kolde bord, thinking they would mostly be for show. Oh my! They are so TASTY and hard to resist! Every time I turned around, someone was grabbing a handful. Thank you so much for this recipe that I will definitely be making again!

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  19. These are so pretty. Since they have been sweetened, I wonder how they would be in ice cream? (Sorry cannot use a name, it won't let me.)

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    1. Hi Anon! That's a great idea! Thanks for the question. If you wait until just before serving the ice cream, they should be fine. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't recommend it, only because they have to stay dry to remain crunchy, that's why they're perfect for baked goods. If they're put in the refrigerator, or get cold, they become wet, and lose their crunch.

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Hi! Thank you so much for stopping by a cup of mascarpone, and taking the time to leave a comment! I read, smile, and cherish each and every one of them! xox

Carol