Lately I’ve had an obsession with vanilla beans. Don’t ask me why, I just think everything tastes better with a little real vanilla bean added to it. This is coming from someone who has always been a chocolate girl at heart. While chocolate is my longtime love, vanilla beans are my latest crush. Unlike adding vanilla extract, using the fresh bean will actually perfume your food. You will smell the vanilla before you taste it.
I wanted to make a holiday inspired syrup as a mix-in to use with my SodaStream soda. Then of course, I thought “Who doesn’t
need want a cocktail on Thanksgiving?” In my family, it’s become tradition to start a large meal with an ice cold shot of gin so the cocktail is an homage to that traditional as well.
Finally, the compote was simply an unexpected bonus. I wasn’t really thinking about what I’d do with the cranberries after straining them for the syrup, but I found I was left with this wonderful, vanilla infused, sweet/tart compote. While too sweet to go alongside your turkey, let me tell you, it is absolutely divine atop ice cream or stirred into plain yogurt. I’ve been eating it every morning on top of cottage cheese for breakfast.
So, here is my Thanksgiving gift to you, three recipes in one. Enjoy!
Cranberry Vanilla Bean Syrup Recipe
12 oz fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
4 cups water
1 fresh vanilla bean
In a heavy bottomed pot combine the fresh cranberries, water and sugar. Split the vanilla bean open lengthwise, and then cut it in half. Add it to the pot.
Bring the syrup to a simmer. The cranberries will start to pop. Stir and press the cranberries against the sides of the pot to smash them a little to extract more juice. Cook for about 15 minutes and then turn off the heat. Allow to steep and cool slightly for another 15 minutes.
Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer (see below). What is left in the strainer is the compote so don’t toss it!. The syrup should be bright red, almost translucent and may have vanilla bean flecks in it.
During the testing of this recipe I used both fresh and fresh-frozen cranberries and there was no difference in the result, so stock up while they are in season and on sale!
Yield: About 3.5 cups of syrup and 2 cups of compote.
For a great soda, add about 1 oz of syrup to 12 oz seltzer water.
Cranberry Vanilla Gin Cocktail
(aka Cranberry Gin & Juice Cocktail)
2 oz Cranberry Vanilla Syrup
1 oz Rose’s Lime Juice
2 oz Gin
In a cocktail shaker combine all ingredients and shake vigorously. Pour into a pretty cocktail glass (the ones in the photo have been in my husband’s family for over 100 years and were brought here from Russia). Garnish with fresh cranberries and lime zest.
Makes two cocktails.