A November post (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/460222) was looking for exciting cranberry sauces, and several posters highly recommended the cranberry sauce with cherries and marsala from epicurious. Having relied on my (simpler) spiced cranberries recipe for years but not wanting to be a hidebound traditionalist, I decided to make both my beloved spiced cranberries and the sauce with cherries and marsala for a taste test.
My holiday dinner guests and me all voted the spiced cranberries the hands-down winner both aesthetically and gastronomically. As for aesthetics, the color of the sauce with cranberries and marsala was a deep burgundy-brown, more on the brownish side, and visually less appealing than the bright jewel-tone ruby red of the spiced cranberries. Texturally the dried and fresh cherries were unappealing viscuous globs. The flavor of the cherries overshadowed the cranberries, muddying the flavor of the sauce and making it less bright and tart than that of the spiced cranberries. The allspice was too subtle and the rosemary was undetectable in the cherries/marsala sauce. The combination of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves makes the spiced cranberries taste bright, tart and are a great complement to the flavor of the cranberries. Lastly, the cranberries with cherries and marsala required a lot more effort (admittedly not a lot, but still…) than the spiced cranberries.
So my holiday groaning board next year will boast the very best simplest homemade cranberry sauce. Try my spiced cranberries and see if you don’t agree: