Three great ways to use cranberries this festive season

Three great ways to use cranberries this festive seasonGetty Images

These three cranberry recipes are the perfect Christmas treats for you to make this year!

The recipes below for steamed cranberry pudding, cranberry nut bars and blue cheese cranberry shortbreads are perfect to eat over the holidays as you get all the health benefits of cranberries while still enjoying a delicious treat. 

The steamed pudding below uses both fresh and sweetened dried cranberries in place of the more traditional dates, figs, and mixed peel, which is a great way to lighten up the classic Christmas pudding. Serve it for Christmas, or save it to ring in the New Year!

The cranberry nut bars are ideal for you to enjoy as an on-the-go breakfast over the holidays, while the blue cheese-cranberry shortbreads make for a unique nibble with a festive drink.

If you have leftover cranberries from making your cranberry sauce, these recipes are a great way to use them up.

Steamed Cranberry Pudding

Steamed cranberry pudding, Getty Images

Steamed cranberry pudding, Getty Images

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:

  • 190g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons molasses (dark treacle)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sweetened dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
  • Brandy butter for serving (see recipe below)

Method:

  1. Butter a pudding mould or deep, heatproof bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon. In a separate large bowl, stir together molasses, sugar, rum, and oil until blended, then add in the cranberries, raisins, and apple. Stir in the flour mixture until blended.
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared mould and smooth top. Cover with a double piece of buttered wax paper and a double piece of tinfoil. Fold together and make a pleat in the centre (to allow for the pudding to expand). Tie the paper and foil in place with kitchen twine.
  4. Place mould or bowl in a large saucepan or Dutch oven fitted with a rack, or place a folded kitchen towel on the bottom of the pot to prevent direct contact with the pot. Add enough hot water to come halfway up sides of mould or bowl, then cover and steam on medium-low heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Check water level once or twice during cooking and add more water when necessary.
  5. Carefully remove pudding from the pot. Remove the foil and parchment then run a metal spatula around sides of the pudding to loosen it. Place a serving plate over the mould and invert. Slice and serve warm with brandy butter.
  6. If not serving immediately, let the pudding cool, covered, in the mould. When completely cool, unmold, wrap in clingfilm, then tinfoil. Refrigerate the pudding for up to one week or freeze. When ready to serve, put the pudding back into its mould, cover with waxed paper or foil, and steam for 1 hour, as above, or until heated through. Thaw frozen pudding before reheating as above.

Brandy Butter

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 190g icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons brandy

Method:

In a small bowl, beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. Add brandy and beat until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl or crock, cover, and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Return to room temperature before serving.

Cranberry Nut Bars

Makes 24 bars

For the bars:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 255g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 180ml milk
  • 175g semisweet chocolate or white chocolate chips
  • 65g chopped pecans
  • 90g chopped sweetened dried cranberries

For the icing:

255g icing sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Method:

  1. To make the bars, preheat oven to 180°C Line a 9x13-inch baking tray with tinfoil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the short sides to make handles. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray or lightly grease.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar for 2 minutes, or until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for one minute.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into the butter mixture bit by bit, alternating with the milk. Stir in the chocolate, nuts, and cranberries.
  4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is browned and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove the bars from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then lift with foil handles to remove from the tray.
  5. Make frosting by beating the icing sugar, butter, milk, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Frost the bars, then let cool completely and cut into 24 squares (6 rows by 4 rows).

Blue Cheese Cranberry Shortbreads

Makes 20 shortbreads

Ingredients:

  • 230g crumbled blue cheese, at room temperature
  • 113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 190g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 60g sweetened dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

Method:

  1. Combine the cheese and butter in a food processor and process until creamy. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Add to the cheese mixture, a little at a time, pulsing 4 or 5 times, or until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  2. Add the dried cranberries and process just until moist clumps start to form. If the dough is not coming together to form clumps, add 1 tablespoon water and process until moist clumps start to form.
  3. Transfer the dough to a large sheet of clingfilm and knead gently until the dough holds together. Shape the dough into a 5x2.5 inch log. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 3 days.
  4. Preheat an oven to 160°C. Line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets. Remove the dough from refrigerator and unwrap; slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place the rounds 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until light golden brown; rotate pans halfway through baking time.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool on wire racks.

(Recipe and image courtesy of Ocean Spray Cranberry Growers)

Margaret M. Johnson’s "Favorite Flavors of Ireland” is a “labour of love and tribute to her thirty years of travel there. It offers more than 100 best-loved recipes from her previous ten cookbooks and celebrates the special flavours of each Irish season: Spring/An t-Earrach, Summer/An Samhradh, Autumn/An Fómhar, Winter/An Geimhreadh.” To order a signed copy, visit www.irishcook.com.

* Originally published on our sister website Irish Central in 2016.

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