Those of you who read my blog entry on Coffee & Chocolate Chip Shortbread, will remember that, this year, I sought to break out of my holiday-baking box.

As a another new holiday experiment, I made spiced sugared cranberries for Christmas. I know, bust out the straight-jacket, I was getting really crazy.

I had seen a few recipes paying homage to these little jewels. Still, I wasn’t totally sold, but I have learned to never discount something before giving it a chance. Off to the grocery store I went, bought a little bag of the sour holiday berries and bunkered down to give this a go.

I found a recipe that involved more than just making a simple syrup out of water and sugar; this one also threw in a slew of delicious holiday spices. Ok. We were in business.

These spiced and sugared cranberries are sweet and tart at the same time and they pop in your mouth. With the ingenious addition of spices, they have a really wonderful flavour.

Spiced and Sugared Cranberries

Adapted from Olives for Dinner

Ingredients

3 cups sugar
3 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods, bruised
1 Tbsp fennel seeds, preferably tied up in a couple of layers of cheesecloth (otherwise they stick to the cranberries and are hard to remove)
3 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed
1 cup superfine sugar, or regular sugar pulsed in a small food processor

Directions

Combine the sugar, water and spices in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar is totally dissolved. Allow the mixture to come to a full boil, then pour into a separate bowl and immediately add in the fresh cranberries. Cool slightly before covering and placing into the refrigerator to soak for about 8 hours.

Drain the cranberries. Line a cookie sheet with paper towels and place the cranberries on them to soak up any excess liquid. Place the remaining cup of sugar in a large bowl and add in the cranberries. Toss gently until well coated. Reline the cookie sheet with fresh paper towels and place the cranberries back on them to dry for about two hours. They may remain drying on the cookie sheet for up to two days.

I enjoyed this recipe, and I recommend that you not store the finished product in an air-tight container as the moisture that remains in the cranberries turns the sugar coating wet and the, were-delicious, cranberries get as soggy as my emotions upon discovering their new and sad state. If kept out, they maintain their consistency and I highly recommend giving them a try.

And whatever you do, don’t ditch the leftover spiced cranberry simple syrup. Among other things, it makes a wonderful addition to cocktails! Recipe to follow.

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