My friend Kim brought a bowl of these to a potluck at my house once and I immediately had to have the recipe! Turns out they are very easy – with a little patience** – and they look just beautiful! I would say they are too beautiful to eat, but it would be wrong of me to deny you the chance to pop these little orbs of sweet-tart goodness into your mouth!
I’ve made them several times since Kim shared her recipe and – as I always do with recipes – tried out some variations. Some worked, some didn’t!
What didn’t work: Using coarse, colored sugar. I thought the larger crystals would be pretty on the berries, but it turns out that they kinda melt and just look crusty (and not a good kind of crusty!)
What did work: I poured my ultra-fine baker’s sugar (I found it in the baking aisle in a milk carton-like container) into a Tupperware container and put a couple of vanilla beans in with it for several days to give the sugar a vanilla riff. The sugar with beans is still in my cupboard and I am looking forward to making the cranberries with it to see if the vanilla is stronger! Turns out, this is pretty much how they make vanilla powder for coffee shops (also good in pie crusts!)
**Regarding patience: the cranberries have to soak in the sugar liquid for at least 8 hours, so you need to plan ahead. This is not a spur-of-the-moment recipe! It is important to make sure you do not boil the cranberries – they will pop, if boiled, and will not make a very pretty treat. They need to dry for an hour before storing – try not to eat them all before they are dry!
Now, you could make a batch of these and sit in a corner, eating them all yourself, but that would not be in the spirit of the holiday season. Bring them as a hostess gift in a pretty tin, set them in a crystal bowl alongside your appetizer platters, toss a handful onto a plate of turkey or eat them while watching a movie with your family! There is no wrong time for sugared cranberries!