This is one of our holiday favorites, albeit it newer tradition. This year, I had a bottle of Basque still cider that I wasn't fond enough of to drink, it was so yeasty and apple-y I couldn't toss it. What to do? Cranberries, of course! The added benefit: at the end of the process you have lovely spiced apple simple syrup that goes so well with Mescal. It would be fantastic with a hot rum or Bourbon drink, too. So really, you end up with TWO terrific products. Now, if you're not familiar with apple ciders I urge you to get to a good wine shop and ask for an intro. There are so many lovely ciders out there now, many made with heirloom apples. They're great with pork chops (in brine or a pan sauce) and they are fantastic with cranberries.
Crackly Sparkling Cranberries
For this recipe, start with whole fresh cranberries. If you have frozen whole cranberries it should work, but I've not yet tried it so I can't guarantee it. Begin this recipe a day ahead as the cranberries will get an overnight rest in their syrup. The active time for this recipe is minimal but you'll want to include resting/drying time and start the day before you plan to serve these.
- 1 lb. Whole fresh cranberries
- 2 cups Granulated sugar
- 2 cups (most of one bottle) apple cider
- Raw or brown sugar (here I used turbinado)
- a few cloves, a star anise, (a cinnamon stick would probably be great, too.)
- Line a half sheet pan with waxed paper.
- Place sugar, spices, and cider in sauce pan, heat and stir to dissolve sugar.
- When sugar is fully dissolved, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Rinse cranberries, pick out stems.
- Syrup should still be pretty warm but not scalding. Dump the cranberries into a container that will go into the fridge overnight. Pour hot syrup over the cranberries.
- Rest overnight in the fridge (the cranberries not you, you've got other things to do.)
- Remove cranberries strain from syrup (and save that syrup!)
- Place turbinado sugar on a dinner plate. Take cranberries about a cup at a time and roll around in sugar, then place on prepared sheet pan.
- Rolling cranberries in small batches prevents too much dripping and caking of the sugar. Should you get lots of lumps in it, just remove the lumps into the simple syrup.
- When all your cranberries have their first coating of sugar, move the tray to a cool, dry spot to rest and dry completely. Should take a few hours.
- For the second toss in sugar, you can simply re-roll. I find a light brushing of the simple syrup helps the second coating adhere better.
- Let dry completely.
crackly, sparkly cranberries
spiced Basque apple cider syrup
sparkling cranberries and a roast duck
sparkling cranberries, small chestnut apples and kale surround the Thanksgiving platter