Of all the Thanksgiving foods that I am asking you to make from scratch, and not out of a can, cranberry sauce is by far the fastest and easiest. It takes almost as much time to try and slop that phallic shaped, hideously ridges gelatinous mass onto a crystal serving dish as it does to throw a few ingredients in a pot and let it simmer. You have no excuse. Put down your reservations, and your can opener and give it a try. You can do it. I believe in you.
As for those leftovers, that best part of that Black Friday, you have so many options. Cranberry sauce is the one thing that freezes super well, so you can put it in tupperware and save it for a week when you aren’t so double stuffed. Maybe there is a Christmas/Hanukkah party coming up and you signed up to bring the cupcakes? You are in luck. Freeze the leftover sauce, make the Cranberry Cream Cheese frosting below and you will have a cupcake hit on your hands.
Vanilla Bourbon Cranberry Sauce
1/2 vanilla bean
4 cups of fresh cranberries
3/4 cup of water
2 tbs bourbon (good quality)
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1 cup of sugar
Slice the vanilla bean down the center the long way and scrape out the insides with the back of a knife. Place the vanilla scrapings, and the rest of the ingredients in a pot over medium/high heat. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until thickened. The longer you allow the sauce to cook, the thicker it will become.
*all the alcohol burns off once heated, so this is safe to serve to minors.
As I said before, cranberry sauce freezes well. You can save your leftovers for future use.
Cranberry Cream Cheese Frosting
2 3/4 cups cream cheese (softened)
1 1/4 cups butter (softened)
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Cream cheese frosting is super, super easy to make and about a billion times better than that crap in a plastic can, as long as you follow the rules. Seriously, if you try to cheat this you will end up with a mixing bowl full of lumps that give your frosting the consistency of ground beef. The biggest rule: everything needs to be room temperature. Sounds wrong, but it’s true. Leave your butter and cream cheese on the counter for a few hours to let them soften. Here are a few acceptable shortcuts to get your ingredients to room temperature, since you may have patience issues, or lack of time issues, like I do.
1. If you are baking and the oven is on, place your sticks of butter and cream cheese (still wrapped) on top of the warm oven. That is, if you have an oven that gets warm. Turn them every 8-10 minutes to warm all sides. In about 30 minutes, they should be softened.
2. Microwave. The problem with this is that you really don’t want anything melted, and since cream cheese is almost always wrapped in foil, this just works for butter. Put your wrapped butter on a microwave safe plate and microwave on high for 8 seconds. Turn one quarter turn and then repeat. do this until it is softened, but not melted.
3. Cut everything into cubes and leave at room temp for about 30 minutes, should do the trick, unless your house is freezing cold.
Put your softened cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high for about 3 minutes. This will allow it to blend with the butter better and prevent any clumps. Add the softened butter and beat on high until well combined. Add the cranberry sauce and mix again until well combined. Turn off the mixer and add the powdered sugar. I don’t like my frosting super sweet, but if you do, add more powdered sugar. Mix on low speed until the powdered sugar is mixed into the cream cheese mixture.
Cranberry Walnut Muffins
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream
1 cup cranberry sauce
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 400.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, then the vanilla; mix well between each addition. While the mixer is on low, add the sour cream and then the cranberry sauce, mixing until well combined. In a separate bowl, Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. With the mixer still on a low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the cranberry mixture. Mix until just combined, don’t over beat. Stir in the walnuts. Add cupcake papers to a muffin tins. Fill each paper until about 2/3 full.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched.
Allow to cool.
Cranberry Pancake Syrup
1 cup cranberry sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
Put both in a bowl, stir well, heat in the microwave for 20 seconds. Serve over pancakes.
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