Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mini Cranberry Meringue Pies

I thought this recipe was from last year. The image of these cute, little, mini pies had been on my mind since last winter when I vowed to attempt them when fresh, fall cranberries came around again next time. Actually, this first appeared in Living magazine in November 2006, but it did appear again in a special holidays publication last year. I had the 06 article tucked away in my files, and I pulled it out last week to finally try this. The pasty is a citrus version of a pate sucree I've made before with the addition of lemon and blood orange zest. It occurred to me that I should make a big batch of these mini pastry shells and keep them in the freezer to use as needed. They would come in especially handy when I have some leftover pumpkin puree like I probably will later this afternoon. In this case, those handy pastry cups were filled with thickened cranberry sauce that was made in two stages. First, cranberries were cooked, and the juice was strained from the berries. Second, that juice was combined with whole cranberries to make a sweet, tart, filling with pops of flavor. Fluffy, toasted meringue topped it off.

The pate sucree was cut into four-inch circles which were crimped and fitted into twelve standard muffin cups. Each cup was lined with a small square of parchment paper, filled with weights and baked for fifteen minutes. The weights and parchment were removed, and the cups were baked for another five minutes or so. Once cool, they were ready to be filled. For the filling, first, fresh cranberries were brought to a boil with sugar and water. They were simmered until the cranberries burst and then passed through a sieve to extract the juice. The recipe states the solids should be discarded, but I'm getting more and more militant about not wasting food, so I kept the cranberry solids and enjoyed them on plain yogurt for breakfast. Next, the cranberry juice was returned to a saucepan, and sugar, lemon and blood orange zest, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and more whole cranberries were added. This time, the cranberries were cooked over a lower heat to prevent them from bursting. They should just become soft. Cornstarch was whisked into a mixture of blood orange juice and water, and that was added to the cranberries and juice to thicken it. Once cooked and cooled a bit, the filling was divided among the pastry cups, and they were chilled until set for at least an hour. Last but not least, a meringue was whipped to glossy peaks, spooned onto each mini pie, and the tops were browned under the broiler in about a minute.

While trying to get these pies done in less time than I should have planned to spend on them, the extra step of straining cranberries and then adding more whole cranberries seemed a little fussy. In the end though, I see why it mattered. The thickened juice nicely suspended the softened, whole cranberries in a way that a standard cranberry sauce would not have done. That being said, for a quicker version, a thick, sweet cranberry sauce would work fine here. Also, I'm always up for a meringue topping, but Kurt suggested that whipped cream would have been just as good. Either way, these festive, seasonal treats have earned a trip from my temporary, to-try file to my permanent, keeper file.



38 comments:

  1. These pies are little works of art! Can't wait to pick up some blood oranges.

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  2. I think these are the cutest little pies I have ever seen. I am so glad you pulled this out of your file, it looks delicious!

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  3. Oh, those are absolutely lovely!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  4. These look yummy!Wish I could have the rest of the one in the first picture. The topping looks so fluffy!

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  5. I want to dive head first into my computer screen and eat one! Love them!!

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  6. I'm not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, as I'll be at my in-laws. But if I were, I'd be making THESE for dessert. Heck, I might still have to make them, even if it's just for a non-holiday night. ;)

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  7. They're gorgeous! I love the way the toasted meringue looks although Kurt is probably right- whipped cream would probably be just as as delicious. And less work- always a plus in my book as I never plan for as much time as is needed either.

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  8. These would make the most charming desserts for Thanksgiving! I love the meringue on top! It makes them a little bit fancier.

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  9. Cranberry lovers rejoice! These give cranberries their due! (I might even serve these as appetizers, or, gasp, in lieu of traditional cranberry sauce!)

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  10. These are super cute! Anything mini always catches my eye. Perfect for the entire holiday season!!!

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  11. oh my, they are so adorable and festive. love the cranberry filling :)

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  12. These look absolutely adorable!

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  13. Oh these pies are so mini and cute!
    They're really wonderful!!

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  14. wow! real cute! i love them! the cream rules!

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  15. These look really tasty with cranberry filling and meringue atop makes them to a perfection!

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  16. I'm grinning ear to ear. What a super little mouthful! And that meringue makes it so elegant!

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  17. These look amazing!!! I wish you lived in LA and could make these for a bake sale in a couple of weeks. I would buy them all.

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  18. These little things are absolutely gorgeous! I bet they tasted just as delicious, too!

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  19. One of the advantages of blogging is that your recipe is a permanent file for you and the rest of the world!
    Love these dainty little things and I personally prefer the meringue topping to whipped cream.

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  20. What a perfect little bite on Thanksgiving...and any day.

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  21. Wow! These look so perfect! Yummm!

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  22. Fabulous little stunners aren't they. Love them.

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  23. Woww.. I can only imagine the sweet sourness of cranberries and the sweetness and texture of the meringue all combined in one delicious bite... oh my goodness YUM!!

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  24. These are really gorgeous and I bet they are so delightful with the combination of tart sweet cranberries and the airy meringue!

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  25. Ring the bells Lisa, these are sensational! Festive and just how I like dessert to be. You did a fab job with 'em! YUM YUM YUM!!

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  26. Yes yes yes! Wow! Was just defrosting cranberries and came across this stunning tartlet - which looks to me VERY worth the fuss! Fabulous, Lisa, fabulous. A creative and festive recipe for cranberries - better than the same old!

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  27. These look amazing Lisa. We don't get cranberries and if we do they are very expensive, but I may try them with another fruit.

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  28. Oh, these are so cute and so perfect for Thanksgiving. If I was cooking this year, these would be sure to be on the menu.

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  29. Well if these aren't the most gorgeous, holiday perfect treats out there! Utterly darling and I have to say right up my alley being a cranberry fanatic. Thanks for sharing!

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  30. what adorable little treats! and hey--any excuse to break out my flame-thrower is a-ok with me. :)

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  31. Fantastic! Perfect meringue on top. Cranberries on my ingredient list for Thanksgiving.

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  32. Aww they're so cute! I love bite sized food-it has no calories! ;)

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  33. Those look adorable. The cranberries really do look suspended in the juice very well! Plus, anything mini is always a plus ;)

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  34. this recipe sounds perfect, I have some fresh cranberries from my CSA box, so I'm on a look out for recipes like this one :)

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  35. I love mini anything! It's a nice change to see the cranberry meringue pies instead of the lemon.

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