Combine the fresh tartness of cranberries with a sweetened flaky pastry and topped off with a billowy light Italian meringue. The cranberry filling flavored with orange and just a hint of cinnamon and cloves is spectacular. These mini pies are an individual treat that everyone will rave over. The Pate Sucree pastry creates a rich and sturdy crust for the cranberry filling. Add some Sugared Cranberries when you serve these pies for a dazzling presentation.
Unlike meringue pies made with uncooked whipped egg whites, Italian Meringue has sugar syrup that is cooked and then beaten into the egg whites, producing a meringue that does not deflate, weep, or become watery at the bottom.
Making mini pies are definitely more time consuming to make than one whole pie but they make such an appealing presentation and it’s fun to eat a little pie that’s all your own. Make the pastry or baked pastry shells a day in advance to help with your time management. If desired, make into one 9" pie instead of mini pies. Either way, mini or one large pie, you will not be disappointed with this delicious dessert.
Mini Cranberry Meringue Pies
Pate Sucree Pastry:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
4½ teaspoons granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
Cranberry Filling - first step
1 cup granulated sugar
1½ cups water
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
Cranberry Filling - second step:
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1¾ cup juice from first step
1¼ cups fresh or frozen cranberries
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
Tip: Use a citrus zester and citrus juicer for fresh zest and freshly squeezed juice.
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons water
3 large egg whites
¼ plus 1/8 teaspoons cream of tartar
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F., with the oven rack positioned in the middle of the oven.
Pate Sucree Pastry:
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar; whisk together to mix. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- In a small bowl, combine egg yolk and 2 tablespoons ice water; stir to mix. Add egg mixture to the flour mixture, mixing until all the flour is moistened and forms a ball. If the dough seems too crumbly, add the additional 1 tablespoon water (or a little more) if necessary.
- Gently pat dough into a 6 inch disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days if making in advance.
- On a lightly floured pastry mat or pastry board, and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the pastry to between a 1/16 and 1/8 thickness. Cut 12 5-inch circles, and fit into cups of a standard 12-cup muffin pan (not nonstick.) Lightly prick the bottom and sides with a fork. Chill for 15 minutes in the freezer to firm the dough and help stop pastry from shrinking.
Tip: Using a 5" cookie cutter with fluted edges makes a pretty edge. Or use a plate or bowl that measures 5" to mark the pastry, and then cut out the circles with a knife or fluted pastry wheel.
- Line each pastry shell with parchment paper, aluminum foil, or a coffee filter (cut paper to about 5") and fill with pie weights or dried beans or rice to keep the crust from puffing up and shrinking.
- Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully remove the paper and pie weights or beans. Return to oven and continue to bake another 5 to 6 minutes or until the pastry is a light golden brown. Remove pan from oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove shells from pan and place directly on wire cooling rack to let cool completely.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Cranberry Filling - first step:
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water; bring to a boil. Add cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Pour hot mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to strain out the solid pieces. Discard solids. Measure 1¾ cups of the juice to use in the second step. Add water if necessary to make 1¾ cups.
Cranberry Filling - second step:
- In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and orange juice. Stir until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine 1¾ cups juice from first step, 1¼ cups fresh cranberries, ¼ cup sugar, orange zest, salt, cinnamon, and cloves and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium low to bring mixture to a simmer, cook and stir constantly for 3 minutes.
- Gradually pour the cornstarch mixture into the filling, stirring constantly. Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil, boil and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside while preparing the Italian Meringue.
- In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar and water. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting on a gas stove or remove from the heat on an electric stove to stop the cooking while egg whites are prepared.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- Clip a candy thermometer to the inside of the saucepan with the sugar mixture, raise the heat to medium-high, and continue to cook the sugar mixture, without stirring, until it reaches a temperature of 236 degrees (soft ball stage.) Remove from the heat. Immediately start pouring the hot sugar mixture, in a thin steady stream, into the beaten egg whites, while beating with an electric mixer at high speed. Continue beating until cool, about 2 minutes.
- Set the cooled pastry shells on a large baking sheet. Spoon the cranberry mixture into the pastry shells, dividing the filling evenly. Spoon the Italian Meringue on top of the cranberry filling. Swirl the meringue with the back of the spoon to form attractive swirls and peaks.
- Place baking sheet in oven and bake pies for 5 minutes. Change the oven temperature to broil and brown the meringue under the broiler for 20 to 60 seconds or until the peaks in the meringue are golden brown, watching carefully to prevent the meringue from burning. Remove from oven and place baking sheet on a wire cooling rack to cool. Or, after baking for 5 minutes, remove from oven and lightly toast the meringue with a kitchen torch. Hold a small kitchen torch 3 to 4 inches from the meringue and wave it back and forth until the meringue is lightly browned all over.
- Serve pies at room temperature or refrigerate and serve chilled. Cover leftovers loosely with a foil tent and Refrigerate. Do not cover with plastic wrap as condensation will form under the plastic and soften the meringue.
Adapted From: marthastewart.com
Description: Single Crust Fruit Pies with Meringue
Pan: One Standard 12-Cup Muffin Pan
Pastry: Pate Sucree
Pastry Prep: Baked
Starting Oven Temp: 425o
Prep Time: 3 hours
Pastry Bake Time: 20 to 21 Minutes
Filling Bake Time: 5 Minutes
Broil Time: 20 to 60 Seconds
Yield: 12 Mini Pies
Storage: Loosely Covered With Aluminum Foil Tent and Refrigerate
Recipe Type: Pie, Cranberry, Meringue, Christmas, Thanksgiving
Help: Sugared Cranberries, Meringue
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