Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I am cheating on Pumpkin...

...with Cranberry.

Seriously. My obsession with Pumpkin and squash has more recently given way to an obsession with cooking with cranberries. I think this began with the enormous bag of fresh cranberries that I picked up very inexpensively at Costco and couldn't bear to watch go to waste. Here is a list of some of the ways I used them.

Cranberry swirl cheesecake,
which was so moist and so very easy to make. We had this for Christmas day dessert, but I made it the day before and it lasted well. I love this recipe. I would pay more attention to how I did the swirl because I ended up with just a red top, but it tasted good nonetheless! The crust was also crunchy which is an important factor in my cheesecake judgment, I used chocolate Teddy Grahams which worked great.

Friends over for dinner was the perfect opportunity to try out this little creation, and it didn't wail to impress. Chocolate-Cranberry parfaits. I would say that these were not the largest portions, and I mention that more so you can make the best choice for serving them. I do not have glass dessert dishes but used stemless wine-glasses for these. However, I think they would have looked better in champagne flutes, even the plastic ones if you were serving these at a party. You need a little bit of time to make the cranberries ahead but they were well worth it. I didn't have the special sparkling sugar and used plain old granulated sugar but they looked very similar to the picture anyway. Scrummy.

On Christmas day morning I wanted to make something delicious that would also tide us over until Christmas dinner but was not too heavy. Earlier in the summer I ha made this recipe for Pain Perdu, and made it for brunch with friends and it was delicious. I thought I would tweek the sauce just a bit and use berries I already had. Fresh cranberries. and some frozen blueberries and raspberries picked fresh last summer. It turned out so well, and went from a taste of summer to a taste of Christmas in the simple switch. The stale french bread makes wonderful crispy french toast and not the soggy kind that I can't stand. This is a great make ahead breakfast/brunch because you can make the egg mixture the day before and the berry mixture and then the next morning just dip the bread and cook it, and heat the topping while they cook. The powdered sugar (icing sugar) sprinkled on top makes them look so fancy! I love to use my powdered sugar spoon that I think is the cutest invention ever, but is totally not necessary to make this meal look tasty!!

Finally I saw this recipe for Meringue-Topped Cranberry curd tart and have been needing an excuse to make it so an invitation for a holiday meal with Tim and Sarah was just the ticket. This looked like such an interesting combination. I love lemon meringue pie and the combination of tart and sweet so I thought this sounded like a festive variation. I was right. It was quite an involved recipe and I am not sure it is something I would pull out every year, but it was tasty and delivered a good balance of tart and sweet. Here are a few pictures I snapped along the way.

Here is the Pain Perdu sauce, and the Chocolate Ganache Tart - oh my goodness, this was a dangerous find for me. I used orange zest in the crust and it gives it a really wonderful balance to the rich ganache. I have dreamed about this tart for the past 6 nights, it's that good!

So if you have cranberries, I suggest you try out one of these delicious ways to use them up!

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