My husband is in charge of making cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, and he always makes too much. But I don't mind the leftovers. You can keep your rubbery turkey legs and damp Brussels sprouts. But tomorrow morning you'll find me making waffles, a cake or bar cookies with my Tupperware full of cooked cranberries.
Cranberries are one of only three native North American fruits commercially grown today (blueberries and Concord grapes are the other two). There's no documentary evidence that cranberry sauce was served at the first Thanksgiving, but it's certainly possible that cranberries made an appearance on that table. Native Americans believed them to have all sorts of medicinal properties. It turns out they are packed with disease-preventing antioxidants. Cranberries are a good source of vitamin C, which is why American whalers and mariners carried them on their boats to prevent scurvy.
Contrary to what you see in Ocean Spray commercials, cranberries don't actually grow in waist-deep water. They grow on vines, wild and cultivated, in wetland soil. Growers sometimes flood the bogs to make the buoyant berries easier to harvest. As long as the vines are undamaged by frost, pests and harvesting equipment, they will produce fruit indefinitely.
With your leftover sauce, you'll have plenty not only to dress turkey sandwiches, but for some of the following sweet stuff:
Cranberry Mug Cake
Add a tablespoon or two to a vanilla or chocolate mug cake batter and microwave for a single serving seasonal treat.
Cranberry Ice Cream
Stir into softened vanilla ice cream, freeze until firm, and serve with your leftover apple pie. Or make a wintertime ice cream parfait by layering ice cream, cranberry sauce, crushed gingersnaps, chopped walnuts and maple syrup.
Combine pears with dollops of cranberry sauce, top with your favorite crisp mixture, and bake.
Layer a favorite coffee cake batter with cranberry sauce and top with streusel topping.
Pancakes and Waffles
Warm your cranberry sauce and use it as a topping. Don't forget to drizzle the sauce-topped pancakes or waffles with maple syrup, which is the perfect sweetener for tart cranberries.
Swirl some cranberry sauce into your cornmeal or blueberry muffin batter. Or try the gingerbread muffin recipe, below, to make use of your leftovers and kick off the holiday season.
GINGERBREAD MUFFINS WITH CRANBERRY SWIRL
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark (not blackstrap) molasses
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cranberry sauce
1/4 cup coarse sanding sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in molasses.
4. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk and finishing with flour.
5. Divide batter equally among 12 prepared muffin cups.
6. Place a teaspoon of cranberry sauce into center of each muffin. Use a skewer, moving it in a figure eight motion, to swirl cranberry sauce. Sprinkle each muffin with sanding sugar.
7. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool 5 minutes in pan. Remove muffins from pan and let cool completely on rack. Makes 12 muffins.