Wow Thanksgiving guests by making your own cranberry sauce

Fresh berries offer an opportunity to enjoy cranberries in a different way. Here's a tip: Buy more bags than you need and toss the extras into the freezer. That way, you can extend the season into next summer.

One of the simplest ways to wow guests at Thanksgiving is to make your own cranberry sauce. It's easy, plus the sauce can be prepared up to four days ahead, covered tightly and refrigerated. In our sauce recipe, the berries get a boost from dried cherries, cloves and cider. You may never buy canned again.

Two cranberry cakes, one a play on a pineapple upside-down cake and the other a moist coffee-cakelike confection, are fine additions to the pie-laden dessert menu. They would also be good for a morning-after breakfast nosh. Or maybe that midnight Thanksgiving snack.

CRANBERRY CAKE

3 eggs

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into chunks

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon kirsch (optional, see note)

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

2-1/2 cups cranberries (1 bag)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9- by 13-inch baking dish or a 10-inch springform pan.

Beat eggs and sugar together for 5 to 7 minutes; the eggs will increase in volume quite a bit, streaming into ribbons when you lift the beaters. They will also turn pale yellow.

Add butter, vanilla and kirsch, if using, and beat for 2 minutes. Add the milk and salt and mix for another 30 seconds.

Stir in flour and fold in cranberries. Pour into greased pan.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes for a 9- by 13-inch pan or a little more than an hour for the springform. You may need to tent the cake with foil in the last 15 minutes or so to keep the top from browning too much. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Note: Kirsch is a brandy infused with cherry flavor.

Serves 10 to 12.

-- Saveur magazine

CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH DRIED CHERRIES AND CLOVES

2-1/2 cups cherry cider or black cherry cider or cranberry juice cocktail

1 (8-ounce) package dried tart cherries (about 2 cups)

1 cup sugar

1 (12-ounce) package cranberries

1/4 teaspoon (heaping) ground cloves

Bring cider to simmer in heavy, large saucepan. Remove from heat. Add cherries and let stand 8 minutes. Mix in sugar, then cranberries and cloves. Cook over medium-high heat until cranberries burst, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours (sauce will thicken as it cools). Can be prepared 4 days ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator.

-- Bon Appetit

CRANBERRY UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup butter

1-1/4 cups cranberries

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent leaking. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar and 1/3 cup butter. Bring to a boil, then pour into bottom of springform pan. Sprinkle with cranberries and pecans.

In a large bowl, cream together 1/2 cup butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto serving platter and carefully remove pan. Serve warm.

Serves 10 to 12.

-- Allrecipes.com

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service www.scrippsnews.com

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