Cranberry Orange - Fall Bestseller!

Cranberry Orange - Fall Bestseller!

The glorious season of Autumn brings with it two immensely popular flavors – Pumpkin and Cranberry Orange. In recent years, popular chains have begun introducing their Pumpkin Spice beverages earlier and earlier, some even launching their drinks in August.  In our view, this is way too early!  October seems to be the perfect month for Pumpkin and we think November is Cranberry Orange season.

As early as 1683, The Compleat Cook’s Guide included a reference to cranberry juice.  Harvard University even served cranberries at their commencement dinner in 1702.  This evergreen shrub with trailing vines producing a tart berry is now welcomed into homes as a holiday tradition.  Where did the name Cranberry come from?  In the 17th century, German and Dutch colonists in New England thought the flower, stem and petals resembled the neck, head and bill of a crane.  So the German kraanbere became the English craneberry and finally settled into cranberry.

Cranberries are grown predominantly in the New England area and secondarily in other states such as Wisconsin.  The taste is so beloved that many will swear that it is not just a holiday flavor but a year-round favorite.  And if you thought you knew all about Cranberries, read this short, entertaining article on Cranberries published in JSTOR Daily.  All manner of seasonal and holiday recipes, of course, do call for Cranberries including the ubiquitous Cranberry Sauce at every Thanksgiving table.  Heated arguments break out over the canned vs. fresh issue.  Because by themselves, the fresh fruit is hard, sour and bitter, it is often paired with orange, orange peel and orange zest, particularly in baking.  Cranberry Orange Tea is a popular selection in many tea catalogs and often paired with spices and other complimentary flavors. 

Our favorite recipe is to infuse Apple Cider with Cranberry Orange Tisane and Mulling Spices, and it can be found HERE.  Bakers treasure their individual cookie or bread recipes.  Here are some of our recommendations:

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Cranberry Orange Muffins

1/4 c. sugar
Grated zest of 1/2 orange

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/8 c. sugar
2 large eggs
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
Grated zest of 1/2 an orange
1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries, divided

For the Topping: Stir the sugar and orange zest together in a small bowl until combined and fragrant; set aside.

For the Muffins:  Preheat oven to 425° F. Line standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and spray lightly with cooking spray. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until thick and lemon colored. Slowly whisk in the butter and oil until combined. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, almond extract and orange zest. Add the dry ingredients into the bowl along with the 1 1/4 cups of the cranberries. Fold together until just combined; do not over mix.

Fill the muffin cups full with batter, mounding slightly. Press the remaining 1/4 cup of cranberries into the top of the muffins and sprinkle with the orange sugar topping. Bake for 16 - 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cranberry Orange Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp. orange juice
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. chopped cranberries
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
3 tbsp. orange juice
1 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 375° F.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg until well blended. Mix in 1 teaspoon orange zest and 2 tablespoons orange juice. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt: stir into the orange mixture. Fold in cranberries and if using, walnuts, until evenly distributed. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until edges are golden. Remove from cookies sheets to cool completely on wire racks.

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest, 3 tablespoons of orange juice and confectioner's sugar until smooth. Drizzle over the tops of the cooled cookies. Let stand until set.

Cranberry Butter

This quick and easy recipe is a must have - with just 4 ingredients, it is a great way to add flavor to your breakfast. Spread it on pancakes, waffles or even toast.  

1 lb. butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 c. chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 c. honey
zest of 1 whole orange

Combine softened butter, chopped fresh cranberries, honey and zest only of one orange. Mix with an electric mixer until well blended. Store your cranberry butter in the refrigerator.

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