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This unusual recipe dates from the 1980s, when a huge amount of my time was spent creating desserts for Cocolat, my chocolate dessert shops, and my first book by the same name.
Always a fan of cranberries, I wanted to use them to fill and garnish winter tarts and cakes, just as one does with fresh berries in summertime. I imagined individual berries, plump, sparkling, and pretty.
But every method of cooking seemed to result in sauce—the berries always burst and collapsed into something delicious, but more suited for turkey and gravy than a gorgeous dessert.
I finally ended up with a method for gently candying them. I have no memory how I got there. The recipe appeared in my first book (James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year) Cocolat: Extraordinary Chocolate Desserts, published in 1990. Here it is again, slightly adapted for clarity.
- 2 cups (200 grams) fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar
- 3/4 cup water
What to do with them:
- Spoon berries and syrup over ice cream or around panna cotta, use them to make a trifle, or add them to fruit compotes or a bowl of fresh orange slice or segments.
- Top your breakfast cottage cheese, fromage blanc, or yogurt with them, or spoon them over your bagel and cream cheese (probably not so good with lox though.)
- Drain and dry cranberries to fill a tart or tartlet shell lined with pastry cream, layer into cakes, garnish desserts (or holiday hams), or serve with a selection of cheeses.
- Use extra syrup to flavor cocktails or sodas, moisten cake layers, drizzle on pancakes, add to fruit punch, or make caramels or caramel sauce.
What's your favorite non-sauce way to use cranberries? Share with us in the comments!