Making Sugared Cranberries
If you want to have a Martha Stewart moment, make these cranberries. They are easy to do, look beautiful (even if you struggle with them like I did), and also something the kiddos can help with–at least for 5 minutes until they get “bored” (personal experience). But, they probably only take 20 minutes total of hands on time, anyway. :)
Either in the morning, or in the evening, you will heat sugar and water in a saucepan–don’t boil it–just bring it to a simmer and turn the heat off. Add the cranberries and pour it all into a bowl until it cools off, then put it in the refrigerator for about 8 hours or overnight. You’ll need to use a fine sanding sugar for the finishing. You can either buy “baker’s sugar” or make your own by giving regular sugar a few spins in a blender or food processor–but not too many spins or you’ll end up with powdered sugar. I opted for the blended version this time instead of spending extra money on a bag of “special” sugar (because it’s not really that special).
After the cranberries have steeped in the sugar/water syrup for at least 8 hours, drain them. (I have kept the liquid but I’m not sure yet what I will do with it.) Put a little bit of the sugar in a shallow bowl and roll small amounts of cranberries in it at a time (just watch for the mushy cranberries and throw those out). In an effort to be more efficient, I tried adding larger amounts of berries in a bigger bowl of sugar, but you just end up clumping up the sugar. So, do small batches and add more sugar to the bowl as needed. It will stay prettier that way. After they are coated, move them to a cookie sheet to dry for about an hour. I did find the best way to remove the sugared cranberries is very similar to cleaning a litter box (shrugs shoulders), but the result is much more rewarding. They are a real fruit version of sour gummy candy. And very addictive. I made a double batch. Be careful. :)
THE RECIPE: Sugared Cranberries
1 bag fresh cranberries
1.5 cups sugar
2 cups water
3/4 cup fine sanding sugar (see above details)
1. Heat 1.5 cups sugar and 2 cups water in a saucepan until it is simmering. Do not boil.
2. Turn heat off. Add cranberries, stir. Allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
3. Drain cranberries.
4. Put a small amount of fine sanding sugar in a shallow bowl and roll cranberries in small batches, adding more sugar as needed.
5. Scoop cranberries out with a slotted spoon and lay on a cookie sheet to dry for about an hour.
6. Store in a cool, dry place for several days, if they last that long.