A Favorite Christmas Eve Appetizer: Spicy Blackberry Jelly

The girls from Our Best Bites blog share their fondest holiday memories and the special recipe they look forward to making all year long.

When I was growing up, Christmas day was pretty casual--we spent it mostly in our pajamas and we’d open presents and my dad would make Dutch oven cinnamon rolls and omelets and we’d be lazy until about 2:00 when it suddenly became necessary to leave the house and go to a movie, lest we all drive each other crazy.

Christmas Eve, on the other hand, was serious business. We busted out my grandma’s finest dishes and the white tablecloths and, when my mom was still alive, we were subjected to a Christmas talent show every year (there are some pretty amazing home videos of my brother playing Christmas songs on his trumpet during his gawky early teenage years).

One thing that always made Christmas Eve special was appetizers; platters of appetizers (and my sisters’ self-choreographed dance routines) were reserved for only the most special Randle family occasions.

My favorite appetizer only ever happened on Christmas Eve. My mom would pour a jar of our neighbor’s famous spicy blackberry jelly over a block of cream cheese and it was pretty much the most amazing thing I’d ever eaten.

This gorgeous sauce is a throwback to those childhood memories and it makes the perfect holiday gift, especially when all the plates of frosted cookies come pililng in. Made with plump, juicy Driscoll’s blackberries, it’s the perfect balance of sweet and spicy and tastes as amazing as it looks, especially in a decorative bottle or a vintage canning jar. It’s such an easy gift from the kitchen, made with love! One thing we love about this sauce is that you can serve it like we did growing up (it’s particularly delicious over salty, tangy goat cheese), but it’s incredibly versatile—you can brush it onto chicken thighs or drumsticks like a sweet and spicy barbecue sauce, or you can even whisk it together with a little olive oil to make it a vinaigrette.

You’re going to need 3 cups Driscoll’s blackberries, 1 cup pomegranate seeds (arils), 2/3 cup white sugar, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, 1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and roughly chopped (but leave in the white membrane—they’ll add the heat for the sauce), 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon of cold water. You might also want to keep some hot sauce handy in case you want to add a little more heat.

This recipe is so easy. After simmering the berries, pomegranate seeds, vinegar, peppers, and salt for a few minutes so the flavors blend and the juice is extracted, you’ll just want to blend or mash the berries and press the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the seeds.

Return the mixture to the pan and add a little cornstarch to thicken things up a little. It’s so simple, but the flavors come together beautifully and it really does taste just like Christmas.

After the sauce cools, it can be stored in Mason jars or other decorative glass jars or containers. Be sure to store it in refrigerator.

To get the full recipe, click here.

Sarah Wells and Kate Jones are two girls who love to cook! The mission of their blog, Our Best Bites, is to show that cooking at home can be a delicious, fun, and easy way to express yourself and care for your families and friends.

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