I’m not the first to say 2016 has gone on long enough. I have a fantastic recipe for Cranberry Orange Pie with Gingersnap Crust to share with you today, but I’d like to say a few words about one of the latest losses. Feel free to skip ahead to the recipe though – I don’t mind.
This year has not been stellar in a broad sense, and social media by all accounts seems to agree. I created the Roaring Retro New Year’s theme with this thought in mind; a bit of nostalgic hope for good things to come in 2017. A friend of mine is having a New Year’s Party with what some might call a more morbid theme. Basically, they are hosting a wake for all those that have passed away as they put 2016 to rest. Guests are encouraged to wear their gothic and funeral best, and knowing the attendees I suspect it will be show-stopping in its creativity. While I’m committed elsewhere that evening, I fully support and admire this concept. If you’ve been reading or following my Instagram feed, you likely know I am a sci-fi/fantasy nerd. Early name brainstorms for this site included more than one Back to the Future and Indiana Jones reference, for example. Once we get out of the weeds that are all of these holidays, you can fully expect a number of menus that emphasize the aesthetics and themes of these genres. This all being said, I shouldn’t have been surprised by how hard I took the news of Carrie Fisher’s passing this week. Nothing I can say can do her as much justice as others have already done, but I will say that Princess Leia was one of the few female role-models I had growing up in the sci-fi and action movies my family lived on. Later (when I was deemed old enough), I would have Sarah Connor and her fierce combat skills, and I always had Uhura’s confidence and attitude to look to. But Leia was different – she could carry a blaster, boss around the boys, and be a princess all at the same time. In real life, Carrie Fisher herself was not a woman to be trifled with, and the more I learn about her, the more I am both impressed and saddened by her passing at such a relatively young age of 60. She was but one in a long list of icons and heroes lost this year. While I have no true belief that there is something intangible and malicious about this year in itself, I will nevertheless look forward to its end in the hope for something better in 2017. I wish the same for all of you as well.
Cranberry Orange Pie with Gingersnap Crust
In the spirit of being nostalgic rather than historically accurate, this Cranberry Orange Pie with Gingersnap Crust is decadent and rich in many of the same ways Prohibition Era menus bring to mind.
This innovation is inspired by a luscious recipe for Cranberry Lime Pie from Bon Appétit’s holiday issue. I was in love the moment I saw the vibrant colors of the image. It was bright-hued and the cranberry topping sparkling with its dusting of sugar. I made that version as soon as I could find a reason, sharing it with my family for Christmas Eve. It’s very tart, much like a holiday-inspired Key Lime Pie. The sweetness almost exclusively comes from the brown sugar and gingersnap crumb crust, which is perfect if you like things that are sour and not cloyingly sweet.
In contrast, the curd for my recipe below is light and sweet in itself due to the substitution of orange juice for the majority of the lime juice. I’ve used this flavor profile to extreme success in a few jams I’ve made, and the orange and cranberry combination is probably one of my favorites.
I expected the addition of the Cointreau at the end to make it a bit boozy as it doesn’t have a chance to cook off, but in fact the orange liquor nicely balances the flavors without any apparent alcoholic taste. It may or may not be appropriate for children, depending on the amount you use and how strict you feel about such things. With less than a full shot of liquor in the whole pie, it really isn’t much.
For a truly historical 1920’s cocktail party, you have a number of very traditional options. My first suggestion is Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, and I’ve had amazing success with this recipe. I have a few tweaks of my own I’d like to test out, but I promise to post them once sufficiently vetted. Ice cream, angel food cake, gelatin molds, and fruit cocktails are all also very accurate choices.
Technique-wise, something like the filling of this pie certainly would have been possible during the Prohibition Era. Fruit curds, in particular lemon curd, became incredibly popular in England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Whatever you choose to make, let it be rich, sparkling, and sweet.
Cranberry Orange Pie with Gingersnap Crust
Adapted from Bon Appétit's Cranberry Lime Pie
- 5 ounces gingersnap cookies
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
Filling & Topping
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries (plus 4 ounces more for the topping
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 3 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 Tbsp lime zest
- 2 Tbsp orange zest, divided
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into pieces
- 2 Tbsp Cointreau (Optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Pulse the cookies in a blender or food processor until ground into very fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and brown sugar and pulse to combine. It should be mostly dry, the grounds barely held together by the butter when pressed.
Transfer the mixture to a deep 9” pie dish and press it firmly across the bottom and up the sides. Bon Appétit suggests using a measuring cup to do this, but I find I have better luck just using my fingers and taking a little bit of time to make sure everything is evenly spread.
Bake until firm but not overly browned, 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool.
Combine 12 ounces of cranberries, 1 cup sugar, and ¼ cup water in a saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until cranberries start to burst and most liquid evaporates, approximately 15 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, and then puree in a blender until smooth.
While the cranberry puree is cooling, combine the three whole eggs with the two egg yolks in a bowl, and whisk until just combined (See my note below regarding eggs in fruit curds). Set up your double boiler, filling the lower pot with enough water so that the surface is 2-3 inches below the upper pot. Bring water to a gentle simmer (not too hot, or the eggs may scramble before cooking into the curd). Cook the puree, egg mixture, lime zest, half (1 tablespoon) of the orange zest, orange juice, lime juice, and pinch of salt in the upper pot of the double boiler, stirring occasionally with a spatula. Simmer on low 10-12 minutes until the curd thickens and coats the back of the spatula. Transfer to large bowl and allow to cool until just warm.
Using an electric hand-mixer on medium-high speed, beat the curd while adding the butter one piece at a time to incorporate, about 5 minutes. The curd will become lighter in color and texture. Fill the prepared crust and chill the pie in the fridge until firm, about 2 hours.
To make the topping, combine ½ cup granulated sugar and ½ cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-heat. Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and put aside. Add the remaining 4 ounces of cranberries and cook briefly until just soft, about 1 minute. Use a slotted spoon the transfer the cranberries to the wire rack, and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
When the pie is ready to serve, toss the remaining ½ cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest in a small bowl, and toss the chilled cranberries in the sugar to coat. Top the pie with the sugar-coated cranberries and serve with whipped cream if you’d like.
Double Boiler Alternatives: If you don’t have a double-boiler, you can make the curd in a heat-proof bowl fit safely into medium-sized sauce pan. Just be careful if you use this method – I have done this in the past and while completely functional, it can be a little tricky if the pieces don’t fit well enough together. The last thing I want is for you to scald yourself with the water!
Straining the Eggs: If you’d like to be precise, many fruit curd recipes suggest that you strain the eggs through a fine mesh sieve to remove any large bits of egg protein that might not break down during cooking. I usually skip this step, but as a result I’ve had to fish out bits of cooked eggs from my curd on occasion, so I leave it to you to decide which you prefer. You can even leave in the eggs if you don’t have the patience – having a few pieces of egg in the mix does not affect flavor or safety, but may keep the curd from having a perfectly smooth texture.
Making Ahead: The crust can be made a day before and kept at room temperature covered in cling wrap. The assembled pie (without the sugar-coated cranberry topping) can be made two days ahead and chilled in the fridge. To prevent a film from forming on the curd, once the pie is firm cover with cling wrap directly touching the surface.
This is the third installment of the Roaring Retro New Year’s Eve Feastory. For the other two parts, check out these links:
Oh, and did you notice that amazing Feast In Thyme pie box? My sister made it for me for Christmas. I absolutely love it!
Thank you for joining me for my last post for this year. However you celebrate, I hope you have an enjoyable New Year’s Eve and an excellent start to 2017 this weekend. See you next year!