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 needwant a cocktail on Thanksgiving?” In my family, it’s become a tradition to start a large meal with an ice-cold shot of gin so the cocktail is an homage to that tradition 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, a Compote and a Cocktail
How to make cranberry vanilla bean syrup, plus recipes for cranberry compote and a holiday cocktail with cranberry syrup.
Keyword: cocktails, Cranberry
Servings: 3.5 cups
For the Syrup and Compote
1fresh vanilla bean
For the Cocktail
2ozCranberry Vanilla Syrup
1ozRose's Lime Juice
For the Syrup and Compote
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.
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.
Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer (see photo). 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.
For a great soda, add about 1 oz of syrup to 12 oz seltzer water.
Cranberry Vanilla Gin Cocktail-(aka Cranberry Gin & Juice Cocktail)
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.