Sunday, December 15, 2013

Cranberry Syrup and Orange-Ginger Caramel Sauce

       A homemade gift can be the route to take around the holidays. Personally, I love getting homemade food gifts that speak to the seasonal flavors and festivity filled times. Earlier this week, I puttered into the kitchen to make some birthday gifts for my friend Kelsie.  Putting flavors of her winter self in mind, I knew I wanted whatever canned treats I gave her to taste as cozy as I felt bundled in my thick leggings, wool sweater and fuzzy socks.
       In my mind, everyone loves a good caramel sauce, and if they don't, they damn well should. Caramel is a beautiful, beautiful thing: sugar, browned to a deep, rich, flavor and meet with equal parts heavy cream. Literally, it is magic dripping off a spoon onto my ice cream. The fun part of caramel is you can take it in so many directions-salted, espresso, bourbon, ect. I wanted this one to feel particularly festive though and with citrus season in full swing and smells of warm caramelized oranges on my mind, I thought that paired with the warm sensations of ginger could be just the right combination for a cold evening.
          Next, pondered to things I particularly associate with Ms. Kelsie-fun cocktails and her love of seasonal produce. This led me to the conclusion of a cranberry syrup. It is perfect for not only your morning pancakes studded with walnuts, but also for stirring into your glass with some gin, champagne, or other evening delights.  These two wonderful jars to have around during the holidays will warm your glasses, plates, mouths, and friends.
         They are a nice gift to bring your host or mail off to a distant friend. For a pretty added touch to make them feel all the more special, decorative, and to keep you all the more organized, I put on these adorable canning labels from Kidecals on them. They are water proof and customizable. Whether you want a holiday specific greeting or a persons name on the label, you can adjust the size and words for your own desires. I particularly love the black ones with the roses!  One of my favorite things though, you can leave the writing areas blank and do it yourself in sharpies. This is great because it keeps the jar reusable for whomever you give it too. They can simple wipe off the writing with rubbing alcohol. Then when they make they own dessert sauces, chutneys, or spreads, they can mark the label with the new information. Best of all, you guys can get a 15% discount on your entire order when you use the promotional code "aweseomelabels".
Orange-Ginger Caramel Sauce
    1 C sugar
    1/4 C water
    1 C heavy cream
    1 TSP vanilla
    2 TSP orange fleur water (available at spice shops)
    1/2 TSP ground ginger 
    1/4 TSP salt
1. Place sugar in a clean saucepan and cover with water. This should be just enough to make it look like wet sand.
2. Turn the burner on medium heat and bring the sugar and water to bubbling, make sure not to stir, swirl or disturb the liquid.
3. Once the liquid is clear and boiling, place a lid over the top and watch for the liquid to start to brown around the edges.
4. Remove the lid, and water carefully as the sugar will now caramelize rapidly.
5. Once the caramel has reached a medium to slightly dark amber, very quickly remove it from the heat and pour in the heavy cream.
6. Allow the mixture to seize up momentarily, and begin to stir to calm it down.
7. Add the vanilla, orange water, ginger and salt. Return to a low heat and whisk to make sure the ginger has fully incorporated and the salt has dissolved.
8. Let the caramel continue to sit and reduce for a little if you so choose to want it a bit thicker.
9. Remove from the heat and divide the sauce between two half pint containers, or one full pint.
10. Allow to fully cool, place on the lids and store in the refrigerator.
Cranberry Syrup 
    12 oz. (1 standard bag) whole, fresh or frozen, cranberries
    1 1/2 C Sugar
    2 1/4 C water
1. If you care to can/seal the jars, place 3 half pint jars in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil.
2. Place the lids and bands in a separate saucepan, cover with water and also bring those to a boil.
3. Once the water for the jars has come to a boil, place the cranberries, and water in another pot and bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes until the cranberries have split open.

4. Strain the cranberries through a sieve into a large bowl, and allow all the liquid to drip out, undisturbed for 10 minutes. Do not push the cranberries down and around or it will create a cloudy syrup.
5. Return the liquid to the saucepan, place it back over heat, add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Skim off the foam on the to as it appears. Allow the syrup to thicken to your desired consistency (more viscous for beverages, and thicker for pouring over pancakes, ice cream, ect.) 

6. Using sterilized jars, pour the liquid in, make sure to not allow any to get on the sides. You can process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes; or you can simple pour into the jars, twist on lids, refrigerate and enjoy with in 2-4 weeks. 

**Labels are available at Kidecals. They also have other fun things, so look around and once again, bonus 15% off your entire order when you use the code "awesomelabels." If thats not good enough, they also give you free shipping and their a sweet small local company doing some great quality work. I love it.

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