Cranberries are a big part of the holiday season. Besides being seriously critical to cranberry sauce, they are delicious (fresh or dried) in a variety of baked goods.
And if that isn’t enough, they make a lovely decoration–from candle holder to well-styled food. I am fussier about the presentation of my dishes at Christmas than any other time of the year!
While cranberries are beautiful au natural, another lovely touch is to coat them with sugar. Doesn’t a bright red berry tinged with frosty white just scream “winter is beautiful”?
Last year, when I made a Vanilla Cranberry Cream (Pot de Crème) dessert, I topped the dish with sugared cranberries. This year, for a new Pavlova Wreath recipe (coming Sunday!), I used them again. Guess it’s a keeper!
The recipe, based on one from Whole Foods, is simple, though it does take a bit of elapsed time. Basically you make a sugar syrup (boil sugar and water together), soak the cranberries in it for 4-8 hours, then drain and coat them with sugar and let them dry. Then you can decorate your dessert, perhaps setting the berries next to mint leaves ( or lemon balm leaves in my case) to complete the look.
Now just as a word of caution… cranberries are seriously tart, even when they are covered in sugar. That is why you don’t see cranberry juice without an added sweetener of some sort. The sugared syrup in the recipe will cause the berries to pull in a little sweetness—and there is the sugar coating, but they are still quite tart (though edible). So I usually mention to my guests that eating them is optional. Worth it even if they end up in the compost!
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup cranberries
- ¼ cup sugar for coating
- To make simple syrup, combine water and ½ cup of sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
- Pour the simple syrup into a bowl, then add the cranberries. Cover and refrigerate for 4-8 hours.
- Place the ¼ cup sugar in a bowl (or for a finer sugar and whiter coating, process the sugar in a blender or food processor first).
- Drain the cranberries well (you can save the syrup if you like). When damp but not dripping, coat the berries with sugar, a few at a time.
- Remove and let dry for a couple hours.
- I hear they will last up to a week, refrigerated (though I have never kept mine longer than a few days).