Brandied Cranberries

In my family, we all refer to cranberry sauce as simply ‘cranberry.’

I don’t know how this got started, but I would hazard a guess it was because as a kid, my favourite food for a good long while was cranberry. It didn’t even have to be the good homemade kind; just the kind shaped like a can was good enough for me. Relatedly, my favourite doll was a terrifying plastic doll with blond hair and a tattered pink dress named, I kid you not, Cranberry.

When I was a teenager, I learned how easy cranberry is to make, and I’ve been making it every year for Thanksgiving ever since. This year, when I realised Eleanor had her own recipe for ‘brandied cranberries’ in the box, I got excited: a new way to make cranberry in honour of one of my favourite holidays!

But then I read the recipe and realised it’s basically the exact same recipe I’ve been making for half my life every year on Thanksgiving.* So I made the cranberry, thinking it would be exactly the same as the stuff I’ve always made… until I got to the brandy.

¾ cup of brandy is a huge amount of brandy, you guys. That’s 6 ounces of brandy, or 4-6 shots, depending how you measure a shot in your house. And it’s not added to the cranberry until after you remove it from the oven, meaning that almost none of it cooks off (some probably still does, because the dish sizzles like crazy when you pour in the alcohol). This means that this cranberry is boozy enough that if I were hosting a Thanksgiving dinner with children present, I would probably not serve it to them… unless their parents were desperate to make them take a nice, long nap.

However, it also means that this cranberry is insanely delicious. Decadent, rich, and with that perfect balance of sweet/sour/bitter that makes me want to pour it all over everything I eat. And if no one's looking and you stir a wee spoonful into a glass of bourbon, top it with a dash of bitters, and serve it with the biggest ice cube you can find in a sort of holiday riff on an Old-Fashioned, no one will complain, I guarantee it.

We're not celebrating too much this year since today is a work day in all countries except the US, but I've been dwelling on the things I'm grateful for all day, and here are just a handful:

  • Amazing friends near and far.
  • The cosiness of winter in Scotland.
  • Commuting by bus every morning and the insane amount of books I’ve been able to read because of it.
  • A flat with a giant bay window that overlooks my favourite street in Edinburgh.
  • A husband willing to sit through a Bring Me The Horizon show this week, even though he’d rather have been playing video games.
  • When you find grapes so ripe they crunch when you bite into them.
  • All of the incredible trips I’ve been able to take this year, to Miami, San Francisco, Liverpool, Glasgow, Tulum, Paris, London and Berlin… and to Vienna next month!
  • Tesco selling cranberries so I don’t have to schlep to the fruit market.
  • A Christmas tree shop that delivers!
  • Candles that make the entire flat smell like winter.
  • Living on a block with 2 chocolate shops, a florist, 2 bakeries, 3 coffee shops and a wine shop
  • Turning 30 and finally feeling like I might know myself at least a little bit better.

But most of all, I’m thankful to have a warm, safe home to share with my husband in a beautiful city I call home in a wonderful country we’ve adopted as our own. Hugs to you from the Recipe Box Project kitchen, and remember today to be grateful for all the things you have!

*Minus the crushed pecans and orange zest, two ingredients I definitely prefer to include.

the verdict:

5 spoons out of five. This is perfect, unpretentious, easy and impossible to mess up cranberry sauce. Serve it with turkey, serve it with roast chicken, serve it on a scone or on a spoon or over ice cream or in a cocktail and it will be perfect no matter what!

the recipe:

Brandied Cranberries

the directions:

Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Wash cranberries well and place in a single layer in a shallow baking dish.
Sprinkle sugar evenly over cranberries, then cover dish tightly with foil.
Bake 45-60 minutes until cranberries are burst and sauce has formed.
Remove from oven and add brandy immediately.
Allow to cool, then serve or store for later use.

the ingredients:

16 oz fresh cranberries
1 1/2 c sugar
3/4 c brandy