Full Belly Sisters: November 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sparkling Sugared Cranberries for the Holidays



As soon as I saw these Sugar Covered Cranberries over on The Clever Carrot, I know I wanted to make them. So, I immediately pinned the recipe to my Pinterest board. To be honest, I Pin lots of things that I want to make, but I don't always get around to actually making them. The difference this time? My cranberry-loving son. He saw the pic and said, "Can we make these? Right now?" So, of course, I said, "Yes!"


Cranberries are easily accessible—and wonderfully tasty—this time of year. Plus, they are very nutritious; you can read about some of the health benefits in my Cranberry Lassi post.


Of course, cranberries are very tart, but the sugar provides a sweet balance. My son said, "Ooh, they're so tart and so sweet. Like lemonade!" They're sort of a healthy version of Sour Patch Kids: tart on the inside, sweet on the outside.


Happy sous chef.

I followed The Clever Carrot's instructions—find the full recipe here. The only difference is that I used vanilla sugar (which I wrote about in this Grilled Peach Melba recipe), for a hint of that lovely flavor. To make it, keep used vanilla bean pods in your container of sugar; yup, it's that easy.

The recipe takes some time and patience, but it's simple enough that a five-year-old can do it!

Ingredients
yield: 2 cups

Simple Syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

Cranberries
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, cleaned and picked over
  • up to 1 cup vanilla organic cane sugar 

It looks like berries in snow, doesn't it? So darn pretty.

Some notes on my experience with the original recipe:
  • I guess I didn't wait quite long enough for the syrup to cool. Two of my cranberries burst. So, they didn't get rolled in sugar, they got eaten. No harm, no foul.
  • Instead of putting a plate on top of the cranberries in the syrup, I put water in a sealed ziploc bag and placed it on top. It did a great job of keeping the berries submerged.
  • I used about a tablespoon of sugar at a time on the plate to coat the berries; I didn't want to risk getting a lot of sugar clumpy from any moisture. I just added more sugar to the plate, as necessary. I only ended up using about four tablespoons.

  • My wire racks were way too big to rest the cranberries on; they would've fallen right through the slats. So, I placed the berries on top of a large splatter screen, which I then rested on my regular cooling racks. It did the trick!


I'm supposed to bring a fruit platter to Thanksgiving and you'd better believe that these sweet berries are going to make it onto that platter, along with my Dark Chocolate-Dipped Pineapple. Happy holidays!




I also had some of these this morning for breakfast, over plain Greek yogurt. It was a lovely sweet/tart treat!






Monday, November 18, 2013

@NibMor Dark Chocolate-Covered Pineapple



I was lucky enough to get this amazing box of goodies from NibMor (I got the chocolate gratis; I was not paid to write about the products). Gorgeous chocolate bars, packets of hot chocolate mix...


...and these bite-sized treats, a "Daily Dose of Dark."
So I got out a spoonful of peanut butter and did this...


...and then I did this...
Delicious! It was a perfect little post-workout, protein-n-carb treat. 

But I had lots more chocolate to play with, so I decided to use some of it for a dessert for my mom's upcoming 75th birthday party. Although I was baking a cake for the party, I figured it would also be great to use NibMor for a gluten-free option, to ensure that everyone at the gathering had a dessert that worked for them. The NibMor chocolate is luscious; it's also organic, vegan,  dairy-free, non-GMO, ethically-traded, and made with no refined sugar. 

I opted to make a fruit platter featuring gorgeous red grapes, and chocolate-covered strawberries and pineapple. Now, if you've never paired dark chocolate with pineapple, you're missing out! The sweetness of the fruit wonderfully balances the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate. It's also a nutritious pairing: pineapple is an excellent source of Vitamin C, which actually helps boost the absorption of the iron in chocolate. Plus, chocolate-dipped fruit is ridiculously easy—yet looks super elegant. It's a win all around!

I used two of the Original Dark Chocolate Bars (2.2 ounces each, 72% cacao) and a fresh pineapple, cored, sliced, and quartered. I also dipped a handful of strawberries. If you want to cover your fruit more, you'll need more chocolate; I like the way it looks and tastes with just an edge dipped in that glossy chocolate.

I melted the chocolate and dipped the edge of each piece of pineapple. Then I placed the chunks on wax paper.


I just chilled the fruit in the fridge until the chocolate hardened. 


Arrange all the fruit on a platter and you've got a fabulous dessert—and it's vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free, to boot. Perfect for entertaining a crowd with disparate dietary requirements. Who wouldn't enjoy this bright, delicious show-stopper on a holiday buffet?






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