The poor cranberry. Think: what other fruit offers such powerful flavor and intriguing tartness? Oh, sure, we all go gaga for sour cherries during their two-second season, but the humble cranberry, with us for all of fall, can hope at most for a nibble between bites of turkey. Which is really a shame, because at a time of year when comfort food is on our minds and gravy's running through our veins, cranberries are just what we need.
Fall and winter fruit lack the naked playfulness of their summer brethren; they benefit from some added sugar, heat, or fat to get the most out of them. Cranberries are tart enough to take a bucket of sugar, and their natural pectins, when released from the fruit, make smooth, unctuous syrups. You can do more with these lovelies than make another batch of cranberry sauce; keep cranberries alive all season by spinning up some sorbet.
Whether it's for a mid-T-Day palate cleanser or as an evening snack with some whipped cream and candied ginger, cranberry sorbet is just the kind of clean, snappy dessert to cut through all your sweet potatoes and meaty things.
Adding alcohol to cranberries is nothing new, but you may not have thought of Lillet Rouge. The combination works better than you think, and you don't need to be a James Bond character to cook with the stuff. Wine brings out the fruitier aspects of the berry, while the slightly bitter fortifying liqueurs bring out notes of citrus and herb that would otherwise get lost in sorbet. The rest of the bottle won't go to waste, either. Lillet Blanc may be the perfect summer aperitif, but the colder it gets outside, the more likely my evenings begin with a sip of this rosy-colored tipple.
So go ahead and give the cranberry its due. Fruit with this much to give deserves more than a day to shine.
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About the author: Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries. You can follow his exotic spice- and ice cream-based ramblings on Twitter.