These Cranberry-Raspberry Jellies were definitely a task and required lots of downtime, so we spread the process out over a couple days. Back in September, Mom brought us up a basket of goodies from the farm - one of the items not shown was a few bags of freshly picked sweet raspberries! I've been hoarding them in the freezer, but we finally decided to pull them out for these fun squishy candies.
To get a very intense cranberry-raspberry flavor, we used a cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, in addition to the frozen, but thawed, raspberries and cranberries. While a little of the juice is used to bloom a few tablespoons of gelatin, the remainder is combined with the fruit, fresh lemon zest, juice and granulated sugar. This thick mixture boils and bubbles away slowly to extract as much flavor as possible and until a candy thermometer registers firm ball stage (about 244 degrees).
Once we reached that magical number, we removed the syrup-y mixture from the heat and stirred in the bloomed gelatin. At this point, you need to move with a little more vigor as it starts to set somewhat quickly. So the end candy is silky smooth, all of the skins and seeds need to be remove - this is accomplished by straining the mixture through a fine sieve. Use a sturdy wooden spoon to carefully mash as much of the hot sticky liquid as you can out of the two berries - the resulting mixture is then poured into a baking pan to set. After a few hours at room temperature, the jelly needs to chill in the refrigerator which will make cutting them a little easier.
While the jelly is firm and set, it is still very s-t-i-c-k-y, so you need to make sure your cutting surface is generously dusted with granulated sugar and your knife is lightly oiled between cuts - just be patient and take your time. Once cut into small squares, all cut surfaces are coated with sugar and are left to dry at room temperature for a few more hours. The texture of the finish candy is soft and very chewy - the first description that came to my mind was a gumdrop that had an intense fruity flavor you might find in a jolly rancher. I was a little nervous that the sugar on the outside would push the sweetness of them over the edge, but it did not at all - they were sweet yes, yet because the cranberries are quite tart, the jellies had a nice balance to them. Fun, different and worth the effort!