So, Thanksgiving is exactly one week from today. Yikes! I feel like it’s sneaked up on me, but then again, I say that every year, so I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised. Next year I’ll either 1) be prepared, and have it not sneak up on me; or 2) come up with something more original to say about it sneaking up on me.
I am quite happily not hosting this year, for the first year in many. Not that I mind hosting at all, in fact I kind of enjoy it, but it is a lot of work and taking a year off is not unwelcome. If you are hosting, check out this post I made last year, drawn from my years of hosting Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other more formal-type dinner parties: it’s my Top 12 Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving, many of which can apply just as well to other holidays or hosting events.
Though I am not hosting, I am bringing dessert to our gathering this year, so I’ve been testing pie recipes lately. This one makes the grade, for sure. Wow. Delicious, and such a lovely twist on all the usual pie culprits, not that I mind those one bit, thank you very much. The cranberry flavor wasn’t too tart at all, something I lightly worried about as I occasionally find cranberries to be a bit puckery for my tastes. The sugary crunch of the garnish cranberries lent a wonderful contrast to the silky smoothness of the pie itself.
I would highly recommend this if you’re looking for a change-up to the usual Thanksgiving pie line-up. Or you could save it for Christmas, since cranberries seem to be culturally welcome up until the New Year. Or, you could just make it on a Tuesday because you feel like it and it’s that good.
Recipe notes: this does require a pre-baked pie crust, and I feel I should apologize, because those can be so frustrating when they shrink on you. My first one didn’t cooperate, and when I pulled it from the oven and realized it wasn’t usable, I did *not* promptly burst into tears because it was already a bad day. No, that was some other girl. I wish I had some better tips for you than just make sure the crust is well chilled, use pie weights, yada yada. I’ve found that making a little bit more pie crust than you’ll need often solves the shrinking problem.
Secondly, the original recipe said the pie was ready to eat after chilling for 1 hour in the fridge. It depends on your definition of ready. You could eat it then, but it won’t be completely firm. For best results, chill it overnight. I hope y’all enjoy it!
Source: adapted from Saveur Magazine, November 2013
2 cups fresh cranberries (or thawed if frozen)
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tbs orange liqueur
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp (1 packet) unflavored powdered gelatin
1 large egg, separated
1 large egg white
½ cup milk
A 9” prebaked pie crust, cooled completely
Bring 1 ½ cups cranberries, ½ cup sugar, orange juice, and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and soften, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a blender. Add the orange liqueur and lemon juice, then puree until smooth. Don’t forget to hold a dish cloth over the top of the blender when you turn it on, as hot contents can blow the lid right off, and then no one’s happy. Once the mixture is smooth, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids and chill the cranberry mixture.
Combine the gelatin and 3 tbs ice water in a small bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes, minimum. While the gelatin is doing its thing, beat 1/3 cup sugar with the yolk from the whole egg (save the white!) and the milk in a small saucepan. Set it over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture and the cranberry mixture until completely smooth. I used a whisk.
Transfer the custard to a bowl and place a layer of plastic wrap directly over the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until just beginning to set at the edges, about 30 minutes.
Add the 2 egg whites to a bowl and beat until still peaks form. Stir ¼ of the whites into the chilled custard. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Use a spatula or an offset spatula to smooth out the surface as evenly as possible. Chill, uncovered, until set, at least 1 hour, preferably up to overnight.
When the pie is chilled, make the garnish. Spread 1/3 cup sugar onto a plate. Boil the remaining ½ cup sugar with ½ cup water in a small saucepan until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in remaining ½ cup cranberries. Stir to make sure all the cranberries are well coated in the simple syrup. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cranberries to the plate with the sugar. Roll them around to get them all nice and coated in the sugar, then gently place scatter them over the pie. Cut into wedges and serve, with whipped cream, if desired.