Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Baking with Cranberries
Living in Massachusetts, home of Ocean Spray, we are big on cranberries around here. I love to see the bogs at harvest time. And no Thanksgiving table would be complete without cranberry sauce. But cranberries can be used for so much more than sauce at Thanksgiving dinner. Cranberry breads, muffins, pies, bars and cookies are great too.
Cranberries are very acidic and too bitter to eat raw. But their tartness is wonderful when it is mellowed with sugar. For breads and muffins, I put them into the batter raw, and they soften while baking. The sweet bread surrounding the tart berries is a great flavor combination. For cookies, I like to use dried cranberries paired with white or dark chocolate chips (an oatmeal base is great for this). For pies and bars, I cook the cranberries in a saucepan with sugar, spices and a bit of pure maple syrup (see recipe below). This makes a great easy cranberry sauce, which becomes a great filling with just a little added thickener. You can also swirl this mixture into a coffee cake.
Cranberry Sauce / Pie Filling:
1 12-ounce bag raw cranberries, picked over to remove stems and bad berries
1 Tablespoon grated orange zest
2/3 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
pinch of ground clove (about 1/8 tsp)
Simmer over low heat until the mixture makes a thick sauce and berries are mostly broken. Cool to room temperature. At this point you can use it as a delicious cranberry sauce. If you want to thicken it for pie filling or cranberry bars, add 1 teaspoon cornstarch and stir well. The filling will thicken while baking. Use with your favorite sweet butter crust, or try this great recipe from Martha Stewart: Pate Sucree Extra. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes for a full-sized pie or 20 minutes for mini-pies and tarts.
Posted by Christa Dunn