Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cranberry Orange Jam & GF Baked Brie

Giving gifts is something I love to do, especially during the Christmas season. While I’m not opposed to buying gifts, there’s something extra special about handmaking things.

Jam (or other preserves) is always one of my go-to gift ideas because 1) it is easy to make multiple jars at a time, and 2) the jam has a shelf life of a year (or more) if processed correctly so that the lids seal, and thus the recipient can wait to open the jar, if they so desire.

This year, I’ve made a couple batches of Cranberry Orange Jam with Pecans that I’ll be giving to many of my family members and friends.  Sorry, family and friends, for the spoiler alert!  I made a version of this jam (minus the orange component) last year, but all the jars in my single batch sold out almost instantly! I didn’t even have enough left to give any as gifts.  So, this year’s remedy was to make more than one batch & not to sell any at all :)

A couple jars didn’t seal properly during the waterbath processing stage, so instead I had to refrigerate them & we’ve been enjoying them instead, not that that’s been too difficult a task!  I love eating jam on toast or english muffins or croissants, etc. but I sometimes forget that not everyone is as in to baked goods as I am.  Some people don’t know what exactly to do with a jar of jam because they have a hard time thinking outside the toast and/or pb&j box.  

One of the beauties of this particular jam is how versatile it is.  On the sweeter side, jam could be stirred into plain yogurt to create your own custom flavor, or even in to oatmeal. it could be sandwiched between two butter cookies. Warm jam could be spooned over ice cream... or pancakes... or waffles! .  Really, the possibilities are endless.

This jam is sweet, but it wonderfully compliments savory ingredients as well.  It could be served with turkey or pork. It would make a great condiment on a sandwich. And don't even get me started on paring it with cheese!

Case in point, baked brie.  Often baked brie is wrapped in puffed pastry before it is baked, but for this much more simple (and naturally gluten free) option, I simply topped a round of triple creme goat brie with a few spoonfuls of jam before baking it to oozy cheesy perfection.  The finished brie was served with some gluten free crackers, though honestly, it was difficult to not just eat the jammy cheese with a spoon!

So, if you’re still searching for gift options, consider making a batch of preserves of some sort.  And, tying a small Cinnamon Applesauce Ornament is a great way to dress up any jars for gift giving.

Cranberry Orange Jam with Pecans 
Adapted from Kraft Recipes
yields 6 half pint jars, plus a little extra for the fridge

1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
1 c (8 fl oz) Orange Juice, 
1/2 c (4 fl oz) Water
zest of half an orange
45.5 oz (6 1/2 c) Granulated Sugar 
1 c Chopped Pecans
1 pouch Certo liquid pectin 

  1. Fill a large stock pot with water & bring to a simmer.  Add a splash of white vinegar to the water if the water is hard. Wash 6 half pint jars, along with rings and new lids. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. 
  2. In a second large stock pot, bring the cranberries, orange juice and water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  3. Infuse the sugar with the orange zest.  Add the infused sugar and nuts to the prepared heat. Increase the heat to high heat and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the pectin, return to the stove & boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. 
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and skim off any foam that may have developed.  Increase the heat under the first water-filled stock pot to high. 
  5. Portion the jam into prepared jars, leaving 1/8” headroom. Run a knife around the edges of the jam to remove any potential air pockets. Add a little additional jam to the jar, if necessary. Wipe the rim & threads of the jars. Cover with the lids& screw on the rings until they are finger tight. 
  6. Lower the jars into the boiling water & cover the pot. Process the jars for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, and let stand for 5 minutes before removing the jars.  Let the jars cool completely. If after cooling any jars have not sealed, store those in the refrigerator. The sealed jars will keep at room temperature for 1 year.
Note: If you’re completely new to canning, Food In Jars has some great resources!  

Gluten Free Baked Brie with Cranberry Orange Jam 
adapted from The Kitchn 

1 round of brie cheese--I used a triple creme goat brie that was 6.5 oz in size
Cranberry Orange Pecan Jam 
Additional Pecans (optional)
Fresh herbs to garnish--I used Rosemary 
Crackers for serving-- I used ones like these.
  1.  Preheat the oven to 425 F. 
  2. Cut off the top of the brie & scoop out a bit of the center. 
  3. Place the cheese onto a piece of parchment paper and onto a baking dish. 
  4. Top the cheese with several spoonfuls of jam & extra pecans, if desired. Place into the oven.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is softened, but has not completely collapsed.  
  6. Remove from the oven & use the parchment paper to lift the cheese onto a serving platter. Garnish with a sprig of herbs & serve with crackers. 


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