A (believe it or not) healthy holiday treat

These pretty little goodies have been receiving rave reviews on the Cooking Light Bulletin Board since the recipe was published in Cooking Light in 2003. Five years later, I finally got around to trying them. I increased the size of the recipe to use up a whole bag of cranberries (I've never understood recipes that call for you to have a weird quantity of leftovers, like the one cup of cranberries left over in the original recipe).

Two things you should know about this recipe:

1. You need to start these a day in advance, since they need to steep in simple syrup overnight.

2. You need superfine sugar. The recipe said that if you can't find superfine sugar, you can make your own by processing granulated sugar in a food processor for a minute. I gave granulated sugar a spin in the blender. I'm not sure I achieved the right consistency, because my sugar formed a thick coating on the cranberries that tended to flake off. That may have been because of my sugar, so if I made them again, I'd get the superfine sugar.

I took them to a party and the hostess loved them. One guy (a member of CRB, by the way) said he didn't like cranberries and she urged him to try one anyway. He popped one in his mouth and said he liked it ... until he got to the cranberry. I was kind of with him -- I thought the cranberries had a somewhat bitter aftertaste.

So I don't think you'll win over the cranberry haters with this recipe. But if you have any guests or gift recipients that are trying to stick to some healthy habits over the holidays, they'd probably be happy with you for making them.

Sugared Cranberries
Adapted from Cooking Light December 2003

Because of the contrast between the tart cranberries and sugary coating, the flavor of this snack pops in your mouth. The berries are steeped in hot sugar syrup to tame their tangy bite. When entertaining, serve these in place of nuts. You can use the reserved cranberry cooking syrup as a cocktail mixer.

3 cups granulated sugar
3 cups water
3 cups fresh cranberries (about 1 package)
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar

Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring mixture until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. (Do not boil or the cranberries may pop when added.) Stir in cranberries; pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl, reserving steeping liquid, if desired. Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Add the cranberries, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry.

Note: The steeping liquid clings to the berries and helps the sugar adhere. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week.


Jersey Girl Cooks said...

I could use something healthy. I just love your gingerbread zoo!

Elisabeth said...

Yay - you made them!

Anonymous said...

That's IT!

I just found an unopened box of superfine sugar in the back of cupboard, and I couldn't remember what I'd bought it for.

I'm too young to be this senile. . .

Thanks for the reminder. Now if I can just remember until I get home. ;)

(And a leftover cup of cranberries? Try throwing them in a fruit smoothie with some OJ, plain yogurt and honey.)

Allie said...

I have some leftover cranberries from the vodka I made so I might have to give these a try.

Emily said...

They're certainly pretty.