thanksgiving cranberry jelly rings

Cranberry jelly rings. Individual plates of cranberry jelly for each guest at your Thanksgiving table. Need butter? Make a few of these to scatter around the table as well.

November's issue of Martha Stewart Living arrived at our house just a few days after I had been on a hunt for a good molded cranberry jelly recipe. Perfect timing. In it was this cranberry-maple jelly recipe. I love that magazine, I really do. It's got my number.

The recipe as written will make you upwards of twenty cranberry jelly rings. Each ring is about a two ounce portion, which I think would be enough for your average turkey eater. I did some math here and adapted the recipe to make five jelly rings. If you need ten, double it. If you need fifteen, triple it. And if you need twenty, just go right here, to the original recipe.

For five rings you will need a 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries, 3/8 c. sugar, 7/8 c. water (divided), 7/16 c. grade A pure maple syrup and 3/4 tbsp. unflavored powdered gelatin. I brought the gelatin proportion up just a tiny bit to make sure the jelly kept its shape when released from donut pan.

Start by bringing the 12 oz. cranberries, 3/8 c. sugar and 3/4 c. water to a boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce the heat. Cook, stirring occasionally for ten minutes, until cranberries have burst and are completely soft and juicy. 

Over a medium bowl, press the cranberries through a screened sieve (mine is much too small, but it worked) using a spoon or the back of a ladle. Get all the juice you can. It took me a while, but I got a full cup of juice. If you get less than a cup of juice, add a little water to make a full cup.

Add the 7/16 c. maple syrup to the cranberry juice bowl and stir.

In a custard cup, sprinkle the 3/4 tbsp. gelatin over two tbsp. of water to soften. Let sit for a minute.

Transfer 1/4 c. of the cranberry/syrup mixture to a clean saucepan and bring to a simmer, then stir in softened gelatin until it dissolves completely. Add this mixture back into the bowl with the other 3/4 c. cranberry/syrup mixture and stir well. Place that bowl in a larger bowl of ice water until cool to the touch, stirring occasionally. This should sit around ten minutes.

While the jelly mixture is cooling, oil your pan lightly with vegetable oil (you know the drill).

Fill the pan with the cooled jelly mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for eight hours (and up to two days).

When you are ready to unmold the jelly rings, fill a baking sheet with warm (not hot) water and set your pan in the water for just five to ten seconds. The jelly breaks back down quickly. I learned that the hard way, so really just do this for a short, short period of time, then set the pan back down on the counter.

I found using dry, clean fingers I could press lightly and pull the edges of the rings away from the edge of the pan, enough to gently slip a butter knife in and then to allow me to work my fingers underneath the rings and pull them up. Since these are being plated individually, you can't just flip the whole tray over. You have to remove them one by one. Have your saucers or small plates at the ready, you want to put the jelly rings down quickly and precisely, because you can't move them afterwards.

If you do end up with imperfections (I ended up with a few due to leaving the donut pan in the warm water a little too long), maybe disguise them with a few berries or pomegranate seeds, or maybe something even more clever than that! How about fried sage leaves? That would be perfect. 

I hope you have a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving. As always, I am thankful for you stopping by here! xoxo


  1. And my mouth's watering. Those look super yummy!

    1. I tried a little bit last night, and the ARE! Thanks, LT!

  2. Just perfect and beautiful photos! And my family would appreciate all that straining! Happy Turkey Day, Tiffanie : )

  3. Cranberry is one of my favorite "tastes" of all time and I'll definitely try this sans the donut pans since I don't have any :-) I love the last styling in the last pic too Tiff.

    1. Thank you, Tania! I was struggling finding the right photos to use this time around. Food styling is actually something I don't enjoy that much, it makes me anxious!


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