Tag Archives: apple cider

Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Apple Cider Cranberry SauceMy mother makes the best cranberry sauce in the world, but that’s not the recipe I’m sharing today.* Sorry to disappoint.

*Just kidding! I wrote her original recipe in the notes at the end. It’s a Thanksgiving two-fer 🙂 Apple Cider Cranberry SauceI have a good reason for holding out on you. My mom’s cranberry sauce is made with a large amount of brandy, which gets cooked off over the course of an hour in the oven. As I have mentioned previously though, I cannot safely consume alcohol, and therefore do not keep it around, even for cooking.

Since I quit drinking five and a half years ago, cranberry sauce is one of the only dishes that I have really missed. I’ve found work-arounds or substitutes for all sorts of other recipes, but I just couldn’t find one that hit all the same buttons as my mom’s.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceIn case you’re wondering, those buttons include:

  • It’s gotta be whole berry. No weird can-shaped cranberry jello here.
  • It can’t have more than three ingredients. I’ve had cranberry sauces with nuts and spices and other fruits and all sorts of other silliness, and all of it was completely unnecessary.
  • It shouldn’t have any citrus. Orange and cranberry are complementary flavors, but I can’t stand them together in cranberry sauce. This is more of a personal preference than anything, but I mean, this is my personal food blog.
  • It can’t be too sweet. I hate when cranberries are so over-sweetened that their natural tartness is completely masked.
  • It has to be easy. Like ridiculously easy. So low-maintenance, it’s silly. And if it can be made more than a day ahead, that’s ideal.
  • If nothing else, it must be so delicious that I want to eat it every time I spot the jar in the fridge.

Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceIt’s taken a few years and many sauces with unrecognizable berries, too much sugar, flavors I didn’t care for, and a lot of feeling sorry for myself, but I’ve finally made a cranberry sauce that hits all those buttons. And the missing ingredient was looking at me the whole time in the form of a seasonal fridge staple: apple cider. It has flavor, but not enough to overwhelm the cranberries, and it’s sweet without being saccharine. Perfection.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceThis sauce comes together over the course of an hour in the oven. It gets stirred twice, but needs no help otherwise.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceThe result is soft, bursting berries that slump into a sweet, sticky sauce. It’s just divine. As is the fact that it can be made today and nuked in the microwave just before you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, it’s probably even better that way. Love that.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Want more cranberries? See here and here. For more apple cider, see here and here.

Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce*
makes about 3 cups

2 12-ounce bags whole cranberries
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine all ingredients in a 9×13-inch casserole dish and stir together. Bake 60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes.

Remove sauce from oven. Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a serving dish. Serve.

Cranberry sauce may be made up to two days in advance; it reheats well in the microwave.


If you want to try my mom’s cranberry sauce, swap the cider for brandy and double the sugar. Everything else is the same.
Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry Sauce


Apple Cider Coffee Cake

Apple Cider Coffee CakeIt’s no secret that I don’t like Halloween. I’m ambivalent about wearing costumes and if I’m going to eat candy, I’d like for it to be full-sized.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeThat’s not to say I haven’t participated in the festivities as an adult. Just last year, my friend, VJ, showed up at my apartment with a panda costume. She was dressed as a unicorn. On our way to a party, we somehow got on the one car of the R train where literally nobody else was in costume. “So a panda and a unicorn get on the subway…”

Halloween We went outside like this.

Long story short, I’m skipping the Halloween treats this year. If you aren’t, I recommend these, these, and these (please forgive the terrible photos on that last link).

Apple Cider Coffee CakeInstead, I’m putting my energy toward dreaming up and making excellent “company” breakfasts, i.e. the sort of dessert-masquerading-as-breakfast that is socially accepted when you have a house full of guests in November and December. Cinnamon rolls are a common choice for such occasions, but I recommend you save those for another day and make this Apple Cider Coffee Cake instead. It’s faster, doesn’t involve fiddling with yeast, and has two layers of that crunchy crumb that everyone loves.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeThe base of this coffee cake is basically a souped up muffin batter. I started with my Orange Pecan Muffin recipe and then made a few changes. I swapped the oil for butter, the yogurt for sour cream, and the milk for an apple cider reduction. Oh, and I threw in some pie spices and chunks of tart apple. Flavor all over the place, y’all.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeLet’s talk about that apple cider reduction. It’s an easy way to get big flavor! This is the base of flavor in this recipe, so make sure to use quality apple cider–the refrigerated stuff, not the shelf-stable variety. Pour two cups of it into a saucepan, bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat, and let it go. This will take 20-30 minutes; I recommend checking the amount every ten minutes. Once it’s at 2/3 cup, let it cool to room temperature so it doesn’t melt your butter or scramble the egg. This is a very hands-off task, but if it seems like a little too much, you can do this step a day in advance and then refrigerate the reduction until you’re ready to use it.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeApple Cider Coffee CakeEnough about batter though. Coffee cake crumb topping is where it’s at! It’s crispy, crunchy cinnamon-brown sugar magic–the perfect foil for that rich, appley cake. The crumb recipe I use here is the same one from my Cranberry Crumb Pie. It comes together super quickly and easily and…well, I’m totally crazy about it.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeTo assemble the cake, butter a springform pan and line it with parchment. If you don’t have a springform, you may bake this cake in a deep (!) 9-inch cake pan. Dividing it into two loaf pans may work too, but I haven’t tried it. Let me know if you do!

Apple Cider Coffee CakeLayer the ingredients into the pan, starting with half the batter. Top it with half of the crumb. Then more batter, then more crumb. Bake it for nearly an hour, until the top is nice and golden.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeLet the cake cool completely in the pan before releasing the springform and dusting it with confectioner’s sugar.

Apple Cider Coffee CakeInvite a friend or two over, put on a pot of coffee, and slice up the cake!

Apple Cider Coffee CakeYou are going to love the combination of rich, buttery apple cider cake and the almost meltingly-soft chunks of apple, not to mention the craggy crumb 😍 I’ve made two of these this week and I know there will be many more before 2017 is over.

Can’t. Get. Enough.Apple Cider Coffee Cake

Apple Cider Coffee Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake

2 cups apple cider
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
3/4 cup full-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large tart baking apple, peeled &1/2-inch diced (I used Granny Smith)

1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

1-2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Pour apple cider into a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat for 20-30 minutes, until reduced to 2/3 cup. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Make the crumb. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pour in vanilla. Add butter. Use your hands (or a pastry blender) to work butter into dry ingredients until a clumpy but homogenous mixture forms. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter. Line with parchment. Grease parchment with butter. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until fluffy. Mix in egg, apple cider reduction and sour cream; mixture may be a bit lumpy. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing just until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in apple pieces.

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Top with half the crumb. Pour in the remaining batter and sprinkle with the last of the crumb. Place full pan on a baking sheet and bake 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. Run a thin, flexible knife around the edge of the pan before releasing the springform. If you’d like, invert the cake and remove the parchment before placing on a serving platter. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top. Serve.

Leftover cake will keep well at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Apple Cider Coffee Cake

Apple Cider Snaps

 Have you ever read any of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s work? Well, you should. She is an accomplished baker and writer with several books to her name, the seminal work being The Cake Bible. She’s also written books on pie, bread, cookies, and general baking, and I own almost all of them. I love all her books and reference them regularly, but this time of year I am especially into Rose’s Christmas Cookies. The book is full of old-fashioned, elegant recipes, a million thoughtful tips to ensure success, and even has such categories as “Cookies for Giving” and “Cookies for Sending.” Basically, what I’m saying is that Rose Levy Beranbaum knows what’s up when it comes to holiday baking (and all baking, for that matter).

In the section “Cookies for Holiday Dinner Parties,” she has a recipe for Brandy Snaps Filled with Whipped Cream. They are absolutely stunning–ginger-spiced lacy cookies rolled like cigars and filled with whipped cream. Who wouldn’t want one? Well, children probably. Nothing tastes worse in little mouths than a hint of booze. And I don’t like brandy either. But I do love lacy cookies and whipped cream, so I decided to make a non-alcoholic version of a classic. I rummaged around our fridge looking for something, anything that could work in place of brandy and, lo and behold, we had a half gallon of freshly pressed apple cider. And while apple cider may say autumn to many, it says Christmas to me.     These cookies start by cooking butter, golden syrup, brown sugar, apple pie spices, and salt until they come to a boil. Then the mixture is removed from the heat so flour and apple cider can be stirred in. Drop tablespoons of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat, lest they become stuck to the pan. These spread about four inches, so there shouldn’t be many on the sheet. I have a tiny apartment oven, so I can do four at a time on two sheet pans. Bake these for 7-10 minutes at 350F, until they are lightly browned and are still flexible. For me, this is almost exactly 7 minutes–any longer and they become difficult to roll. They should not wrinkle when lifted. Speaking of lifting, don’t even think about it without a thin spatula in hand. I use a small offset icing knife with good results.

Now, you must work quickly here. Remove cookies from the sheet pan one at a time and immediately roll them around the handle of a wooden spoon or dowel. Press the edges to seal them. Then, slide the rolled cookie off of the handle and set aside to cool on a rack while you complete the rest. I recommend wearing rubber gloves while you do this, as the cookies will be very hot. The rolled cookies are filled with whipped cream. And while plain whipped cream would be just fine, why not jazz it up a bit? This cream is flavored with an extra little bit of apple cider, just to really drive home the apple flavor. Use a piping bag fitted with a tip to fill each cookie. The whipped cream will start to liquefy again after a little while, so don’t fill these until right before you are ready to serve.

While these cookies are simple, they aren’t easy, but they are worth all the effort. This time of year, it’s so easy to look for shortcuts in all the busyness, but there is something to be said for taking the time to make something the old-fashioned way. I highly recommend spending a little time making these crispy, crunchy, cream-filled cookies with notes of caramel and apple cider. As Ms. Beranbaum says, these cookies would be a sweet ending to a holiday dinner party. Your family and friends will certainly appreciate them.

Looking for more holiday cookies? See my Whipped Shortbread Snowballs, Eggnog Sandwich Cookies, and Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles. Stay tuned for eight more recipes during the Twelve Days of Cookies! Apple Cider Snaps
adapted from Brandy Snaps Filled with Whipped Cream in Rose’s Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum
makes two dozen cookies

10.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup*
1/4 cup light brown sugar*
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup all purpose flour
4 teaspoons freshly pressed apple cider

Cider Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly pressed apple cider
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Make the cookies. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine butter, golden syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Stir over medium-high heat just until it comes to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat and immediately stir in the flour, followed by the apple cider. Drop tablespoons of the dough onto the baking sheets, leaving ample room for them to spread (at least four inches). Place the pot of dough in a bowl of hot water to keep it fluid. Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes, rotating the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back at 3 minutes. When the cookies are light golden brown and lacy, remove the pans from the oven. Let cool one minute.

Working quickly, use a small flexible spatula to remove each cookie, and gently wrap it around the handle of a wooden spoon or a 1″ dowel. Press the outer seam to hold the shape. Remove the rolled cookies to a rack to cool completely. Repeat until all dough is used.

Make the Cider Whipped Cream. With an electric mixer, beat cream and brown sugar just until the mixer starts to leave defined marks in the cream. Add apple cider and vanilla, and continue to whip the cream until fluffy. Place it in a piping bag with a tip. Immediately before serving, pipe whipped cream into rolled cookies on each end. Serve immediately.

Un-filled rolled cookies keep covered at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Whipped cream will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days, but will need to be lightly whipped before piping.

1. Light corn syrup may be substituted.

2. Dark brown sugar may be substituted in both the cookies and the whipped cream.

Apple Cider Snaps