Fruit jellies are a lighter bite on the dessert tray, and their natural color from the fruit juice and sparkle from the sanding sugar help make any holiday spread pop. Liquid pectin is available in the canning area of many grocery stores. You’ll need a candy thermometer.
3 cups 100 percent cranberry juice
2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
4 cups granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting
½ cup honey
6 ounces liquid pectin
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup coarse sanding sugar
Spray an 8-by-8-inch or 9-by-9-inch pan with vegetable oil and set aside.
In a medium pot over medium-low heat, bring the cranberry juice, cinnamon sticks, and cloves to a simmer. Add 4 cups of sugar and the honey and stir to dissolve. Bring the mixture to a slow boil, then use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature as the mixture comes to 235 degrees When a white foam appears on the surface, use a slotted spoon to remove it.
Add the liquid pectin, return the mixture to a boil, and boil 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the hot mixture into the prepared pan. (Discard the cinnamon sticks and cloves.) If a skin forms, remove it with a fine-mesh skimmer until the surface is clear. After about 10 minutes, when the surface has just started to set, dust with half of the sanding sugar.
Allow candy to cool about 30 more minutes, until it is solid to the touch and jiggles uniformly if the pan is shaken. Run a knife along the edges to loosen. Place a cutting board on top of the pan and carefully invert candy onto the board, tapping on the counter if necessary to release. Dust the bottom with the remaining sanding sugar. Re-invert onto a baking rack and dust with additional granulated sugar. Using a knife or a bench scraper, make 7 cuts per side to slice into 64 squares. Roll the sides of the jellies in sugar if desired.
Allow the jellies to dry overnight on the baking rack at room temperature. Store on the rack, uncovered, until ready to serve.
If the exterior is slightly moist at serving time, simply re-dust with sugar.
Denise Drower Swidey is a frequent contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.