Ah, cranberries. Now there is something I can happily dream into baked good form without worrying about reasonable substitutes or emulating tastes. Yet again, I’ll admit it was not easy: up until my twenties began, all I knew of cranberries were juice (which I drank,) that scary jellied thing that keeps the can shape (the only odd ‘junky’ food item my father likes, save pork rinds which are solely eaten with hot sauce whilst on vacation in Hawaii) and dried cranberries (which I had occasionally encountered in granolas and trail mixes.) After doing a bit of reading and re-reading, I was pleasantly surprised by something in the Iron Cupcake:Earth competition I had missed before, perhaps a bit too excited?–that I could enter more than one.
Okay, cranberries. I am not ready to tackle the fresh ones just yet, but I’ll toy with you in the forms I feel better with first. Juice, sure, varying blends had crossed my path since childhood; sorry [big corporate food name], that high fructose can-shaped thing is a pass for me. Up in my stockpile of ingredients there it was: a bright yellow, unopened bag of dried red gems. Tearing open the plastic I popped one in my mouth and almost immediately I thought of caramels. Sweet, chewy, sticks to your teeth. Not knowing where I was really going with it, I made some cranberry caramels, cooking the dried cranberries in the margarine-soy cream mixture then continuing to make that mix into caramels. Chewy, buttery caramels with a tang, if you will.
The rest of the cupcake just followed: a cranberry-brown sugar cupcake with a dollop of sweet brown sugar buttercream concealing a circle of tart, chewy cranberry ‘caramel’ that will begin to seep into the moist cake below. Top with a cranberry caramel and get ready for an extreme dessert! You’ll want to sit down for this one. A for wouldn’t hurt either.
Inspired, there is now a jar cranberry apple butter, more dried cranberries, cranberry juice and fresh cranberries inhabiting my kitchen. I can’t see what becomes of Take 2!
Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers:
Head Chefs by Fiesta Product
Hello Cupcake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson
Jessie Steele Aprons
the Cupcake Courier
Taste of Home books
Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers.