Sweet and tangy, sugared cranberries have rolled their way to the top of my must-make list for the upcoming holiday season. They’re ideal for topping festive desserts, look pretty sitting in a bowl beside a bottle of your favourite bubbly, and are a tasty little pop-in-your-mouth treat that’s bursting, quite literally, with flavour.
Made using only three ingredients – water, sugar, and cranberries – these ruby red orbs are easily jazzed up with the addition of orange peel, vanilla bean, or ground spices. Feel free to infuse the simple syrup mixture made at the beginning of the recipe, or season the sugar with a little spice for an added layer of taste.
Additional uses for this festive garnish include: sliding a few frosted cranberries onto small cocktail skewers and serving them alongside a drink, adding them to a cheese board for a dose of much needed colour, garnishing a fruit platter to be served at a holiday brunch, or simply filling small bowls and distributing them around your space for a pretty, edible holiday table decoration.
Lastly, a note about the recipe: simple syrup is usually made on the stove top in a pot, but I’ve opted to make it by boiling water in an electric kettle. You don’t want the syrup overly hot when you pour it over the cranberries, otherwise they’ll burst, and this method keeps the berries in tact, while properly dissolving the sugar.
Have you made sugared cranberries before? How do you like to serve them?
Sparking Sugared Cranberries
Despite what I have read online, I find these berries really don’t hold well for more than a day, so make them just before you need them, although they can be soaked in the syrup overnight if you like. Speaking of the sweet liquid, reserve any extra for another batch of cranberries or use to flavour cocktails and/or sparkling water.
- 1 package (3 ½ cups) fresh cranberries
- 1 cup water
- 2 – 2 ½ cups sugar, divided
- Optional: orange peel, vanilla bean, assorted spices
Place the cranberries in a shallow baking dish. Fill an electric kettle with water and bring to a boil. Place one cup of the sugar in a small bowl and add 1 cup of the hot water, whisking until the sugar has completely dissolved. Pour the syrupy water over the cranberries and stir to combine. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 8 hours (overnight).
Drain the cranberries, reserving the syrup for another use (see headnote) and place a small amount of the remaining sugar into a medium bowl. Add 5-7 cranberries and toss around, completely coating the fruit with the sugar. Don't use more fruit than this as the sugar will get clumpy from the dampness of the berries.
Place the cranberries on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining ingredients; let dry for 1-2 hours. Do a second toss in the sugar to coat any sticky spots that remain on the fruit, and allow fruit to dry for another hour. Serve as per the suggestions above.