Friday, November 30, 2012

Mini Cranberry-Pear Pies with Sugared Cranberries

by Darla

My husband was complaing the other day because I never make pie.

Like, two days after Thanksgiving, when I totally made pie.

Isn’t it funny how I bake a lot (a lot) of treats, all the time (all. the. time.), and still he finds the one thing he wants that I “neeeveeeer” make?

If by funny, you mean not funny at all, then yes. Hilarious.

Well guess what?

I made pie!

I admit it, I hardly ever make pie.

This is a treat.

And they’re mini, because cute. Duh.

Obviously, I haven’t quite gotten the hang of my mini pie maker yet…I’m still slightly burning the edges of the crust. : / It’s just that those two pieces of hot metal pressing in on both sides is a little too hot for that poor, thin layer of crust. And foil is not the solution. Trust me.

Anyway.

Pie. Filled with pears and cranberries, easy as…pie (sorry), and just right for the holiday season.

I decided I wanted to make some pretty sugared cranberries to go on top of my pies, but I really didn’t want to waste a lot of time getting them done, so I have come up with the fastest, simplest sugared cranberries ever.

Step 1: Dissolve 2 tablespoons granulated (or superfine) sugar in 1/4 cup hot water.

Step 2: Give your cranberries a sugar water bath. Just dunk them in the water and lift them out with a fork or slotted spoon.

Step 3: Let the berries dry on a wire rack. I let mine dry for about an hour, turning them after about 30 minutes to remove any hanging drops of sugar water.

Step 4: Roll in sugar (I prefer superfine, but granulated works nicely, too.)

Done. And look how gorgeous!

I only sugared about 18 cranberries, but I could have done at least three times that with this amount of sugar water. If you want to do a very large batch of these, simply double or triple the sugar water recipe.

I also went for the whole hog and made a lattice top for each of my tiny mini pies. Honestly? No big deal. Really. I just cut out the tops for each one, cut them into strips, and wove them. It was probably easier than a full sized pie, because there’s only 4 or 5 strips each and they’re so short. You can totally do a regular top crust, though, just cut slits in it to let the steam vent.

I was a little nervous about these pies, but they turned out beautiful; mild and sweet, and wonderful with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. It’s the perfect pie for a little something different for Christmas or Thanksgiving, and it’s pretty to boot (especially if you top it with some pretty sugared cranberries). ;)

Even with making homemade pie dough, this was a quick and easy recipe. I love homemade dough, and it’s so much easier than people think, but if you really are pressed for time, then make this pie even faster by using a pre made crust (you can buy two and use one as a top crust).

As for the filling, 10 minutes, tops. Peel, core, and slice your pears, mix all the ingredients together, pour into the pie. Done.

Enjoy!

Cranberry-Pear Pie

Ingredients

FOR THE CRUST
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons shortening, cold
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, cut into small chunks (margarine, for vegan)
6-8 tablespoons cold water

FOR THE FILLING (to make mini pies, cut the filling recipe in half)
5 pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup maple sugar (brown sugar or plain granulated sugar will also work)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (margarine, for vegan)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon heavy cream (soy or almond milk, for vegan)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the crust: In a food processor, mix the dry ingredients for a couple of seconds to combine, then drop the shortening evenly on top in chunks. Process until the mixture looks like wet sand. Evenly distribute the butter on top and pulse until the mixture has pea sized chunks in it. If mixing by hand, cut the cold shortening in with a fork or dough blender, again until it resembles wet sand. Then cut the butter in until you have pea sized pieces.

If using a processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

Add about 6 tablespoons cold water and begin mixing with a spatula. Using a spatula, mix the dough by ‘folding’ from bottom to top and pressing down with each fold, adding more water if the dough is too dry.

Once the mixture has just formed a dough, turn it out onto a very lightly floured surface. As quickly as possible, finish bringing the dough together by hand, kneading as little as possible.

Divide the dough in half evenly and shape into two disks, roughly 4 inches across. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or over night.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, combine the pears, cranberries, sugar, butter, flour, cream, lemon juice, and vanilla until evenly mixed.

Assemble: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove your one of your disks of pie dough from the refrigerator and roll it out to about a quarter inch thick, about a 12-inch circle. Line your pie plate with the dough.

Pour in the pie filling.

Roll out your second piece of dough, cut slits in it to vent the steam, and cover your pie, pinching the edges of the two crusts together around the pie. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before serving.

Recipe by Darla

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers November 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Those widdo baby pies are THE CUTEST!!!

They would totally be amazing laid out for Christmas Dinner.

Also, the berries? Yeah, thanks for this. Way simple!! Way simpler than I’ve ever seen & they are GORGE!!

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2 Becca - Cookie Jar Treats November 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Awww, these pies are just too darn cute! I love the sugared cranberries on top. I hardly make pie either, but hopefully with 5 weeks worth of Christmas vacation, I’ll be able to whip up some pies.

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3 Gemma November 30, 2012 at 3:14 pm

These are the cutest mini pies I’ve seen in a long time! :-). Pies are in my bakery ‘to do’ list and after looking at your pictures they’ll go right up to the number one on my list! They look super cute and the ingredients for the filling made me drool, yummy! Also, thanks for including a vegan alternative to some of the ingredients!

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4 Kocinera November 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm

How beautiful! Your photos are gorgeous and I love the cute sugared cranberries. They look all frosty and festive! Not to mention that those pies look super yummy, too!

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5 Ingrid December 1, 2012 at 6:51 pm

These look amazing! Definitely trying them this week! Just a quick question: if doing mini versions of these, should I pre-cook the filling ?

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6 shelly (cookies and cups) December 3, 2012 at 4:52 am

I never make pie either.. unless chocolate chip cookie pie counts, and let’s be real..it doesn’t.
Love these minis!

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7 sue @ Cakeballs, cookies and more December 3, 2012 at 10:36 am

lol men right?! Those are adorable!

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8 Erin December 15, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Those are splendid and look tasty, too!

I have a set of 4″ mini-plates that I haven’t used yet; would you still use 375º? I assume about an hour or less, so they don’t burn?

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