Mini Cranberry Meringue Pies

Some of you may have seen this recipe when I did a guest post for the Blue Butterfly Vintage blog, but with Thanksgiving just over a week away I thought I’d share it again because it’s perfect for the holiday. The crust for these is a citrus variation of the french pastry called Pâte Sucrée, which is perfect for pies because it holds up really well to the filling. The juice from the blood orange sweetens the tartness of the cranberries in the filling and the fluffiness of the meringue topping creates the perfect combination. These are great because after such a huge meal a lot of people don’t want a giant piece of pie, so having these tiny pies that can be eat in a few bites is a really cool alternative. If you’re looking for something more substantial for dessert, try my classic apple pie! The best part is that the dough can be frozen for up to 3 months, so if you want to make the dough this week just defrost it the night before you’re going to bake!

Make the Pâte Sucrée by pulsing 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 2 tbsp granulated sugar, 1/8 tsp salt, 2 tsp freshly grated orange zest and 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest in a food processor until combined. Add the 1 stick cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces and pulse just until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 1 large egg yolk and drizzle 1 tbsp cold heavy cream over the mixture, then pulse until dough comes together… no more than 30 seconds. If the dough is too dry, add another tbsp of cream. Pat the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic, refrigerate for an hour.On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out twelve 4-inch fluted rounds and fit into cups of a standard 12-cup muffin tin (not nonstick). Dock the bottom of the “pies” using a fork and then freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line the shells with parchment (just cut out parchment rounds the same size as the shells) and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove weights and parchments. Bake until bottoms are just turning golden, 5 minutes more. Transfer to wire racks, let cool 5 minutes then remove shells from tin and let cool completely.
While the shells are cooling, make the filling. Bring 2 cups cranberries, 1 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer mixture, stirring occasionally until the cranberries burst, about 5 minutes. Pour through a sieve and discard solids. You should have about 1 3/4 cups juice… if you have less, add water. Bring the strained cranberry juice, 1/4 cup sugar,1 tsp grated blood orange zest, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon, a pinch of ground cloves and 1 1/4 cup cranberries to boil in medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer until cranberries are soft but not have not burst, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 3 tbsp cornstarch, 1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange zest, and 1/4 cup water in a bowl. Whisk into cranberry mixture in the saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly and cook for about 1 minute until thick. Divide mixture among shells and let set in the refrigerator, 1 hour or up to one day. Make the meringue by whisking 3 large egg whites and  1/4 cup sugar in a heat proof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot to the touch. With an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until foamy. Add a pinch of cream of tartar and beat on high speed until medium glossy peaks form. Spoon on top of the pies and use a kitchen torch to lightly brown the meringue. If you don’t have a torch, just put the pies under oven broiler for 30 seconds.
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