This post was written by my foodie sister Robin, who is now sharing all of her favorite recipes and kitchen tips regularly on the new “Make It and Love It – in the KITCHEN” portion of this blog. Try a few of her recipes…your belly will thank you! -Ashley
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Hey guys, it’s Robin! It’s been way too long…..but I have something delicious and quick to share today! :)
I remember seeing candied cranberries last fall and thought they were such a yummy idea……but thought to myself recently, “why not amp it up a bit?” Why not ring in the holiday season by adding the familiar autumn and wintery spices that cozy up our homes and make everything smell delicious? So, I put a few spiced flavors together and yum, now have a new favorite festive treat!
Cranberries are naturally crisp and juicy but are also extremely tart. However, once they are dusted with some sugar, their real flavor is so much easier to enjoy. But if you soak them first in a syrup mixture of orange zest and the fall spice trifecta (cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg), your taste buds will explode with sweet/tart happiness!
In case you’re a little reluctant to crunch into fresh cranberries — don’t be. When I lived with Ashley for a bit last fall, her kids (especially Connor) couldn’t keep their little hands off of them. And once our bowl of berries would run out, they would all beg for more. These little berries are still tart but the sweetness is absolutely perfect. And just in case you’re curious, the inside is still crisp and juicy fresh. Yum.
Such a great snack to keep on the counter all fall/winter long. The Vitamins E, K, and C are a definite bonus for all sorts of reasons but I’m going to go ahead and admit that I like that they’re a good source of fiber too. So, scoot over cookies and pies — and enjoy a different kind of sweet this fall!
Ready to whip up a quick batch?
Okay, gather up a few things first…
Here is everything you need:
Now, you’ll notice in the ingredient list that I mentioned using dried nutmeg or grating a fresh nutmeg. Using fresh nutmeg is a lot more powerful, so you’ll need less…..but wow, so full of flavor! (I have a tiny grinder I keep with my spices. Very worth it!)
First, combine 2 cups of your sugar and the water. You will see that if you just add them together you can’t quite dissolve the sugar granules and it’s opaque. Heat the mixture on the stove until just before it starts to boil, to help dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat. You want to turn your mixture into a syrup, not a candy.
At this point, it is a good time to add the spices and the orange zest. This will help the flavors to meld together if it is still hot. Begin with the orange. To get a good zest, just scrape the very top, bright orange layer. If you go deeper towards the pith, it starts to get bitter. I like to use Microplane zesters/graters because their blades are razor sharp and give you a much cleaner cut. Just be careful not to let the orange slip or else you will end up grating your hand. Believe me, it is not pretty. ;)
Add the rest of the spices, mix well, and allow syrup to cool.
While the syrup is cooling, wash and sort your cranberries. I suggest you be very critical of your cranberries and find the ones that are firm and without soft spots. A soft cranberry indicates that it is spoiled and will have a strong rotten taste. (I have made batches where I more lenient with my berry selection and there were too many bad tasting cranberries….kinda spoiling the whole batch. Because once the berries are covered with sugar, it’s even harder to see if the next one is going to be bad or not. But once you pop a bad one in your mouth…….yuck!)
Place the approved cranberries in a Ziploc bag. This is the best container to use in order to ensure that all the cranberries are submerged in the syrup. I have tried using a bowl before but trying to keep the berries submerged was quite a feat and made a mess.
Just be sure to squeeze out the air before zipping closed. This will help keep the berries submerged in the syrup, giving these berries wonderful flavor and also cutting the sourness that cranberries have.
Let them soak in your fridge for 12-24 hours.
Drain the syrup (do not rinse them) and get ready to candy them. While the berries are draining, place your other cup of sugar on a cookie sheet and spread it around, keeping it mainly in the middle. Now, check your berries. You don’t want them to be completely dry but you also want to make sure there isn’t excess moisture. This will allow a nice even and thin layer of the sugar granules to stick.
Place a handful of berries on the sugar. Shake the pan side to side so that the berries roll back and forth, covering themselves in the sugar.
Remove the berries carefully and place on tin foil (so that none of them are touching) and let dry for 5 minutes or so. Repeat with the others until all the berries have been dusted with sugar.
Place into a bowl and enjoy!
These are good to eat for two days unrefrigerated. Storing them in the refrigerator will make them sweat and will make the sugar fall off. But trust me, leave them out on the counter and they’ll get gobbled right up! :)
Candied Cranberries – Recipe Card
Place 2 cups of sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until just before boiling. (This will dissolve the sugar completely, making syrup.) Remove from heat and add spices and zest while still hot, to allow flavors meld. Let cool. Wash and sift out the soft or bruised cranberries. Put good cranberries in a Ziploc bag and pour in the cooled syrup. Let out all the air before closing the bag to make sure all the berries are submerged, and zip closed. Store in the refrigerator for a minimum of 12 hours (overnight). Drain the syrup (do not rinse them) and allow for excess to drip off for about 5 minutes. Place 1 cup of sugar on baking sheet and spread around. Add about a cup of the berries on top and shake the pan side to side, until berry are completely dusted with sugar. Remove, place berries on tin foil (so that none are touching), and let dry for 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining wet berries. Serve and store (uncovered) at room temperature for two days.