Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sundays with Sparky - Cranberry-Clementine Cloud Pie


Last Sunday was National Pie Day (as opposed to what I guess is Universal Pi Day, which you can bet we will be celebrating on this blog!)  and I had to find a pie more exciting than the American Pie Council's top five (can you guess them without clicking the link?)  I rounded up Sparky and his buddy Zuko and I put them to work.

Well, I sort of put them to work.  You see, I went temporarily insane:  I had a soon-to-go-south bag of clementines and an equally suspicious looking bag of cranberries, so I thought I'd make two citrus curd fillings and top that with meringue.  The boys were happily playing kill-the-pillow, or smash-the-tower or steal-the-superball or something equally raucus upstairs, and I realized discretion was the better part of valor - I was going to have to do the footwork myself.  So I did.

First, I made "everyday" piecrust - the one I keep in the freezer to roll out for "OMG, you volunteered me to bake WHAT?" desserts.  Our other, more formal, holiday piecrust tastes better, but this is a satisfying and flaky make-ahead crust that works right from the freezer.  The Pioneer Woman did such a careful job of blogging it that I'll send you there for the recipe.  I tossed three carefully-squashed piecrust-blobs in the freezer and started the boys on zesting clementines.

007This they did with, well, zest.  Sparky and Zuko are good cooking companions, taking turns zesting and juicing the clementines.  It took about eight clementines before we had the 2 tablespoons of required zest, but we wound up with enough juice for everybody to have a little refreshment before we went on to the next step.

010Since we have lovely tiny 6" pie plates, we made 4 pies instead of just one, so Sparky and Zuko each got to roll out piecrust, put it in the form, and dock it all over by pricking it with a fork.  These were baked at 350 for about 7 minutes until they were lightly golden.

011I then sent them off to play and worked on the curd fillings (to make gathering your ingredients easier, you will need a total of 6 eggs for this recipe:)

Cranberry Curd:

12 oz bag of cranberries
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
3 egg yolks

Clementine Curd:

Zest from 6-8 clementines (or 2 tbsp fresh orange zest)
7 tablespoons juice from the clementines (or oranges)
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour

Start with the cranberries:  pour them into a saucepan and add the water and bring to a boil.  Cook on medium heat until the cranberries soften and burst, about 10 minutes.  Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Pour the cranberries into a blender and blend on high until they are completely pulverized.  Place the blender jar in the refrigerator and allow to cool.

While they are cooling, move on to the clementines:  using an electric mixer, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until they are light and fluffy.  Add the zest, juice and flour and mix to combine.  Set aside.

When the cranberries are cool enough to touch, (basically, cool enough that they won't scramble your eggs) put the blender jar back on the blender and blend the egg yolks and flour into the cranberries.

You now should have a cooled piecrust and two fillings.  Make the meringue:

In your stand mixer or with an electric mixer, whisk the 6 remaining egg whites with 1 cup of sugar until it makes stiff, glossy peaks.  This will take a considerable amount of time, more than if you were whisking plain egg whites because the sugar will at first make it heavier.  If you are having trouble (e.g. using less-than-fresh eggs,) add 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar.  If you're still having trouble, add powdered egg whites, 1/4 tsp at a time.  Keep whipping and don't worry, despite the vagaries of chickens, humidity, and the tides - eventually you will have a glossy, marshmallowy mass.

012At this point, I called the boys back and had them attempt to pour the curds in a yin-yang shape into our piecrusts.  Unfortunately for me, the cranberry mixture was much more viscous than the clementine mixture, and so we wound up with a sort of crescent-moon shape which everyone was quite happy with, anyway (Zuko said it looked like the Waterbending emblem.)

020Now, do NOT do what we did here - BEFORE you put the meringue on the pies, put the filled pies in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until the clementine juice starts to thicken.  Trust me; what's pictured here is WRONG (sigh.)  We wound up having to re-cook the pie after I pulled it.

After the pie filling sets slightly, pile the meringue on top - making sure it touches the edge of the pie dish, so it won't shrink when cooked.  (Zuko did his best to emulate the Avatar symbol.)

Bake the meringue for an additional 20 minutes, until it is beautiful and golden-brown.  Cool completely and serve!




Melissa Graham said...

I adore cranberry curd. I found a recipe last year and used it for pretty much everything sweet. It's a great local alternative to my fave lemon curd.

The pies look delicious.

Michele Hays said...

Thanks, Melissa - they were pretty darn good, if I do say so myself!

I guess, technically, they aren't curds if they don't contain butter - but while I think it would add a nice richness, I didn't add any.

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