Deep ruby red, pleasantly tart, and just boozy enough to make Aunt Mildred’s toes curl when she eats a spoonful, Brandied Cranberries are an easy-to-make side dish for holiday meals. They also make a nice gift.
The cranberries are baked with sugar in the oven until jammy, and then brandy is added and stirred. At this point, of course, you must taste! Just a little nip to make sure there is enough brandy. Speaking of which, the brandy is not cooked away in this recipe, so there is a definite kick to the sauce. While this could be served as the usual accompaniment to roast turkey or pork, I see it on some wonderful quality vanilla ice cream. Or as a sauce for a buttery slice of pound cake.
12 ounces (about 3 cups) cranberries, washed and picked over
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brandy
Place cranberries in an 8 x 8″ Pyrex baking dish, and sprinkle with sugar. Pour water over sugar and cranberries and stir gently. Cover with foil, and bake in 300 degree oven for 45 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and add the brandy. Stir very thoroughly. Have ready a clean, recycled jam jar and jar lid. I used a 12 ounce jar, and had about half a cup extra. I could have, perhaps, should have, used a larger jar, but I like the shape of this one, like a little jam pot. Given the amount of sugar and alcohol in this recipe, which are natural preservatives, this can easily stay at room temperature for the indefinite future. But if you’re worried, store in the fridge.
To make a gift, I topped the jar with a circle of waxed paper, but a piece of last year’s gift wrapping paper could also be used. Use a bowl or small plate as a template and cut out the circle with pinking sheers. Crush the paper down over the lid with your hand, tie it up with kitchen twine, and added a little sprig of fake Christmas berries or a little piece of a pine bough.
If you are up for it, you can even make a pretty tag. I found little wooden tags (2-1/4″ long) at Hobby Lobby and bought them, having no idea what I would do with them. But I took one and painted it with Antique White acrylic craft paint, typed “brandied cranberries” on a piece of paper, tore it out, and pasted it to the label. Then I painted little cranberry sprigs on the label, and pasted on the typed, torn label. Then I lightly painted the label with antiquing gel, rubbing it in with my finger. When dry, I varnished the label with satin varnish, and when that was dry, I edged the label with gold paint. Don’t wait until Christmas Eve to do this!
Using recycled glass jars, kitchen twine, a bit of sugar and cranberries, which are reasonably priced this time of year, the only major cost to this project is the brandy, which I purchased on sale for under $10, though you might be able to find a smaller bottle. And if you live near an Aldi’s, check them out for cranberries. I have seen bags of cranberries sold there for as little as 25 cents.