Along the Grapevine

Highbush Cranberry Toffee

24 Comments

Making up recipes with foraged ingredients in the winter usually means a little foraging in the pantry for all that is dried, pickled, frozen or fermented. I never actually expected to find fresh edibles well into February in this area, and certainly not juicy berries. But here is one little shrub, much overlooked and maligned, which is at its bestΒ in late winter.Β highbush cranberries #1highbush cranberries #2 Highbush cranberry (viburnum trilobum) is not a cranberry at all but a deciduous shrub which can grow to 4 meters in height. Its leaves are similar in appearance to maple leaves. Clusters of white blossoms appear in the spring, and the green berry turns to orange and then a bright red in October or November. No wonder it is often used as a decorative landscaping plant, standing out particularly in winter months where the berries afford a beautiful contrast to the snow. It is an easy plant to identify with its clusters of berries measuring about 15mm in length and 12 mm in width. They have a single, flat white seed, and a pungent smell which is less strong in the winter after a few freezes and thaws. Rich in vitamin C, it is maybe a too bitter for many palates, but like many bitter foods has a good flavour once sweetened. DSC01817 Further to my experiments with cooking with these wild cranberries, I decided to make a vegan toffee using just sugar and coconut milk with the berries. First I pureed 1 cup berries. If you want a very smooth puree, pass them through a food mill to remove all the seeds and skin. DSC01821 This was added to 2 (400 ml) tins of coconut milk and 2 cups of sugar. Cook the mixture on a low heat until it reaches 270 degrees F on a candy thermometer, or between the hard and soft ball stages. This took approximately one and a half hours. DSC01818 DSC01820 Once cooked, pour into a 9 inch sq. pan lined with parchment paper and allow to cool completely. Cut into whatever size and shape you like and store in a very cool place. They are quite sticky when at room temperature. DSC01836 The flavour reminds me of a tamarind sweet – very creamy and soft. I will be taking these to Fiesta Friday – do drop by to see what the other guests have brought.

Author: Hilda

I am a backyard forager who likes to share recipes using the wild edibles of our area.

24 thoughts on “Highbush Cranberry Toffee

  1. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #58 | The Novice Gardener

  2. Hilda! You are so inspirational and inventive!!! Keep posting, I’m going to get back on the bandwagon soon!πŸ™‚

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    • Thank you. I’m glad to know you’ll be back soon. I am pretty inactive just now (snow and broken wrist mostly to blame) but look forward to a productive spring.

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  3. wow – I cannot imagine the patience it took to make these – they are REALLY prett y though

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  4. Love this recipe Hilda, so interesting!!!πŸ™‚

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  5. What an beautiful plant and obviously extremely hardy!!! I can’t believe what you made with them, how I ventive you are, Hilda πŸ˜€ thank you for bringing these to Fiesta Friday, I see handfuls of these little wrapped up goodies disappearing into peoples pockets….x

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  6. What a lovely post! It’s wonderful to read about some foraged plants even at this time of year!
    I haven’t seen this plant before but I really hope I do now!

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  7. These are so unique and sound delightful!

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  8. Ah, you might have identified a plant for me that my son as playing with the berries from late last fall! I can imagine this toffee must be great, nice to have around for when you are hungry!

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  9. What an interesting recipe! I wish I could take and taste some!πŸ™‚

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  10. You are so very creative, Hilda. These look so good.πŸ™‚

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  11. I always love reading your blog and learning about edible plants and berries, this toffee sounds awesome!

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  12. Wow you are amazing- love your recipes where you present it fresh and inspiring- lovely toffees. ..πŸ™‚

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  13. omg Hilda – You wow me every single time coming up with ingredients from your yard and even in winter! These candies must taste so good – sweet and sour! Can you send me some?πŸ™‚

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  14. I love to read about your foraging trips! What a great way to take care of berries and the flavours, wow!πŸ™‚

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  15. What a fabulous share. I can only imagine the flavors of tart berries with coconut milk. Exotic!

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  16. Great post! I love how simply you wrapped them. There is something so enticing about it. Maybe it reminds me of the simple white wrappers on traditional Mexican candies? Hey! You should try making some of those!

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    • Thanks. Now that you mention it I see the similarity with traditional Mexican sweets, although my first association was with Chinese sweets made from interesting fruits. I think probably before mass production of commercial sweets we all had toffees something like these.

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  17. Since I have a vegan in the house, I will keep this in mind, sounds amazing. I surely won’t get my hands on this most interesting berry variety (so beautiful!), but I guess that toffee could work with any other fruits as well?

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