The spirit of the holidays comes to life as we take part in traditions that year after year deliver joy, excitement, and unparalleled feelings of warmth. A truly classic tradition in many homes, as well as my own, is the creation of the popcorn and cranberry garland. Just yesterday as I was holiday shopping, I overheard a young boy ask his father if they could make the popcorn and cranberry garland again this year. The dad, with a sense of delight that his son was excited about the tradition, responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” While this simple and classic garland is most often seen strung among the branches of indoor Christmas trees with presents below or hung outside among the trees in a yard (much to the delight of nearby wildlife), there’s another sweet spot perfect for this traditional garland: the holiday celebration cake. And because we’re talking dessert, the cranberries have been dressed up with a coat of sugar — perfectly sweetened for your holiday celebration.
FOR THE SUGARED CRANBERRY AND POPCORN CAKE GARLAND, YOU WILL NEED:
- Two 8” – 12” bamboo skewers
- Bakers Twine (Length needed determined by the dessert you are adorning. I used about 9” in this example for a three-tiered, 9” round cake)
- Long needle
- 2 C fresh cranberries
- 2 C sugar, plus another cup or two for sugaring
- 2 C water
TO MAKE THE SUGARED CRANBERRIES:
- Create a simple syrup by heating water and sugar to a simmer.
- Remove from heat and let cool for about four minutes.
- Pour simple syrup into a medium glass bowl, then add the cranberries.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight (Now’s a great time to pop the popcorn, too).
- Drain cranberries.
- Put about 1/2 cup of sugar in two bowls. Divide the cranberries evenly among the two bowls. Shake cranberries in the sugar bowls so that cranberries are evenly coated.
- Place sugared cranberries on a large cookie sheet for about three hours. Once the cranberries are dry and the sugar does not come off to the touch, the cranberries are ready.
TO MAKE THE GARLAND:
Have popcorn popped and cooled for stringing.
Pass the baking twine through the needle. Begin stringing the popcorn and sugared cranberries in a pattern that is pleasing to you.
Tie the ends to the bamboo skewers. Adorn your cake.
For presentation, complete the look with a sweet mound of sugared cranberries just below the center of the garland. Or, have even more fun with it! Add cranberries to the borders, add mounds around the base, etc.
When serving each piece of cake, add a trio of sugared cranberries topped with a single popped kernel of corn, and enjoy!
Happy holidays, friends!