It's my favorite time of year. It's pie season.
In case you haven't already noticed, I love pie. I just love it. And starting from now until the glorious end of December, I can make a pie every day without any justification. It's simply pie season.
So I thought I'd try a thanksgiving pie that departed slightly from the usual old apple or pumpkin [though don't be alarmed, I love both of those pies too. Guinness pumpkin pie anyone?]. I wanted something with a little more color and zing. Thanksgiving involves a lot of brown and white foods. Turkey. Mashed potatoes. Stuffing. Apple pie. Pumpkin pie. Brown, beige, tan. So then I though, how about cranberries? and meringue?! I've never heard of that before! How revolutionary!
After a few internet searches I was dismayed to see that I was far from the first to think of that idea. Most of the recipes I saw, however, involved making some sort of cooked curd filling, like a lemon meringue pie. I didn't want that. I wanted something a little simpler.
So this is basically a pared down cranberry salad recipe in a cinnamon crust, topped with fluffy meringue. Apart from simmering the cranberries for a few minutes there's no cooking for the filling. It's pretty easy. The color of the cranberries is so saturated and gorgeous, it almost looks fake, and when it's next to the snowy white meringue it's really pretty beautiful.
There are a lot of ways to take shortcuts with this. You could use a premade crust if you wanted. You could skip the meringue and just top the pie with a cloud of whipped cream [chill the pie overnight and add the whipped cream just before serving]. You could skip the topping all together. The next time I make this, I might try a pre-baked pastry pie crust. The filling easily soaked through the graham cracker crust and while it didn't affect the taste, it made it a little sloppy and soggy.
But no matter which way you choose to make it, this pie puts a full thanksgiving pie revolution well within your grasp. It's tart and sweet and not what anyone will expect.
Cranberry Meringue Pie
for the crust:
1 sleeve of crushed graham crackers
1/4 c sugar
6 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
for the filling:
1 12oz bag cranberries
1 orange, zested and sliced
1 c sugar
1 c water
1 20oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1 3oz package raspberry jello
(there is a seasonal cranberry jello that would work better, but my store didn't have it)
1-1.5 c boiling water
for the meringue:
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Make the crust:
1. Combine all crust ingredients. Mix well. Press into a 9" or 9.5" pie pan. Bake at 375 F for 7 minutes. Remove and cool completely.
Make the filling:
1. In a saucepan combine cranberries, orange zest, 1 c sugar, and 1 c water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and strain out the liquid, reserving it in a measuring cup. In a large bowl mix cranberries with orange slices and pineapple.
3. Add enough boiling water to reserved cranberry liquid to make 2 cups. Add the jello to the liquid and stir until dissolved.
4. Mix jello with cranberry, oranges and pineapple. Pour filling into cooled pie crust. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight until set.
Make the meringue:
1. In a large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.
2. Add the sugar 1 tbsp at a time, beating on high. Beat until stiff peaks form and mixture is glossy. Beat in vanilla.
3. Spread meringue over top of cooled pie. Be sure to spread it to the crust all the way around so that doesn't shrink while baking.
4. Bake at 400 F for 8-12 minutes until meringue is browned. Remove, cool and refrigerate before serving.
[Make sure this baby is chilled thoroughly before slicing! I made the mistake of slicing while it was still a little warm from the meringue bake, and the whole thing just kind of melted.]