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Welcome back to the Thanksgiving series! After two sweet recipes (Pumpkin Cheesecake and Chocolate Tart) it’s time to kick things up a notch with Cranberry Jalapeño Jelly. Served as an appetizer or on your dinner table, Cranberry Jalapeño Jelly has an addictive tang and a slight kick that will quickly disappear from your table. Jars of this also make for a great Christmas gift for a foodie in your life!
Cranberries.No, I’m not talking about the Irish band of the 90’s. I’m talking the tart berries that produce the most amazing hue of a pink stain I’ve ever seen. And, I think its pretty safe to say that there are 2 kinds of people, people who love them or hate them. With those who like cranberries, comes two more kinds of people with a very strong preference as to how it should be served at Thanksgiving. But, whether you prefer the whole berry sauce or the canned jelly kind with the ridges, this Cranberry Jalapeño Jelly is a delicious way to switch up tradition.
When it comes to my family’s holiday table, both the whole berry sauce and canned jelly versions always make an appearance… on the table… never on my plate. I’ve never been a fan of cranberry anything, except cranberry juice that had way too much sugar than should ever be considered “healthy”. Then one year my Pop-Pop made a Cranberry Orange Relish, that changed my appreciation for cranberries at Thanksgiving. But, that is another post for another day! Today’s post is dedicated to the cranberry infused family favorite: Hot Pepper Jelly.
Hot Pepper Jelly originated in (shocker) Texas, in the 1970’s and quickly spread throughout the south. Today it’s still a major condiment in the south. People mix it into all sorts of recipes, add it to sandwiches and even burgers… but, the most popular way to serve it is as an easy appetizer. Which is how I grew up eating it and how I serve this holiday favorite to my family.
The idea for a Cranberry infused Jalapeño Jelly actually came from my old restaurant. It was a condiment option for our Thanksgiving-style burger of the month. And, since I’m such a sucker for hot pepper jelly, I convinced my boss to send me home with a few containers of it! Which I proudly served at my family’s Thanksgiving, trying to convince everyone I’d made it… While this isn’t the exact recipe from the restaurant, it’s just as delicious.
All you need for this appetizer is cream cheese, hot pepper jelly, and crackers. That’s it! Now, where I can’t do dairy, I always serve this with dairy-free cream cheese. Personally, my go-to dairy-free cream cheese option is Kite Hill’s artisan almond cream cheese. My family devoured 2 packs of it last Thanksgiving so, even dairy eaters love it! I personally love to serve this cranberry jalapeno jelly with their plain AND their jalapeño varieties, for flame-tamers and heat-seekers!
To make it nice, serve your cream cheese in its block form on a platter surrounded by crackers. (Any kind will do but, Ritz, Triscuits are my personal favorites) Serve the Cranberry Jalapeño Jelly in its jar with a small spoon or spread it over top of the cream cheese. If you really want to go ham (haha pun totally intended), you could add some deli slices and cheese to your board as well. For meat eaters, ham or turkey and swiss or cheddar. For vegans/vegetarians, Tofurky (smoked or peppered slices) and original Chao slices! Most major grocery stores carry both Tofurky and Chao slices. But there’s always Amazon Fresh too. If it’s available in your area, you can have groceries delivered to your door! No searching the store for items, for which you may not know where to look!
Like with many canning recipes, this one will yield you a good 24-oz. I used 8-oz jars to can it in and had a tiny bit more than 3 jars worth. So serve one jar as an appetizer, one with the meal, and save the other for your everyday applications. It makes a killer condiment! I’m a Tofurky wrap fan with Chao slices, lettuce, tomato, onion, a schmear of Kite Hill cream cheese and some cranberry jalapeno jelly. It’s reminiscent of a pinwheel sandwich that was served between shows during the Nutcracker season.
Now, before I give you the recipe, I should note: I don’t recommend this jelly as a partner for peanut butter… It’s not a sweet fruit jam/jelly. There’s a lot of tart from the cranberries and some added vinegar, plus a kick from the jalapeno. But to each their own I guess. (shrugs) Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!