Monday, December 19, 2011

Homemade Cranberry Gumdrops

I bought a wonderful cookbook this summer that I have been playing with.  I will be sharing some recipes from The Good Stuff Cookbook by Helen Witty this holiday season.  She calls this Cranberry Christmas Gummies.  They are soft inside with a crisp sugar coating and they are pretty nice eating.  This sounds intense, but really isn't hard.  Kids would enjoy helping roll the gumdrops in sugar.  I think they are going to be a fun addition to our Christmas dessert buffet.

Homemade Cranberry Gumdrops
3 c. sugar
4 1/2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 envelopes) unflavored gelatin
2 c. cranberry juice (recipe follows)
2 Tbsp. strained fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. orange extract or a few drops of orange oil (opt.)
pinch of salt (opt.)
few drops red food coloring (opt.)
additional sugar for coating the candies

To make the cranberry juice:
1 pkg. cranberries (12 oz.) fresh or frozen
4 c. water
pinch of salt (opt.)

Pick over and rinse cranberries.  Combine with water and salt in a saucepan.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring and mashing often, until all the berries have popped and become very soft.  5-10 min.

Pour into a sieve lined with two layers of cheese cloth and set over a bowl.  Let the juice drain, pressing very lightly on the pulp toward the end.

1. Stir together sugar and gelatin powder in a large stainless steel or other non-reactive saucepan.  Stir in 1 cup of the cranberry juice, mixing well.  Set over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk or flat ended spatula until the sugar and gelatin dissolve.  Maintain a rolling boil (one that can't be stirred down), stirring almost constantly for 15-20 min, until the mixture spins long threads when the whisk is lifted.  Remove from heat.

2.  Add the remaining cup of cranberry juice, the lemon juice, orange oil or extract and the optional salt.  Skim off the foam.  You can stir in a bit of red food coloring if you like.  Without it the candies will be garnet color.  (the photo has no food coloring added)

3. Rinse an 8 inch square pan with cold water.  Pour in the candy and leave at room temperature or in the fridge until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.

4.  Scatter sugar generously over a work surface.  Run a wet knife blade around the edges of the block of candy and cut the first strip needed for dividing the block into pieces.  With a thin metal spatula, pry out the strip with a scraping motion and transfer it to the sugared surface.  The remainder of the block may now release readily onto the work surface; if not, remove it a strip at a time.  Dipping the knife blade often into hot water, cut the candy into small squares or other shapes.

5. Roll the pieces around in enough additional sugar to coat all surfaces--you can do this with a firm hand without risking damage.  Set the "gummies" on a cake rack and leave them at room temperature to develop a crisp, sugary shell, which may take two days or longer in humid weather.

6.  Roll the candies in sugar again and store them in a cardboard box or a canister with its cover left open just enough to permit air to enter and preserve the crisp outsides.  These keep well for many weeks, becoming a bit chewier with time. Makes 2 lbs. candy

Notes:  This was really fun to make.  I did end up with some funky crystals at the bottom of my candy block, not sure if they were sugar or gelatin? but I cut them off and no worries.  If you are one of my Utah neighbors, in our dry climate, the gumdrops dry quickly so you could make these one day and probably eat them the next.  I had extra cranberry juice.  I'm thinking about what to use it for, it is gorgeous red, and sour!  I also saved the cranberry pulp and I'm going to make an attempt at cranberry butter with it.  If it ends up being amazing, I'll share.

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