It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is about to roll up again, but I am ready. I love Thanksgiving. As the food holiday I have claimed it pretty much as my own. I start thinking about decorations and menus pretty much the minute the dishes are cleared away. I test Thanksgiving recipes in the middle of summer! I freeze farmers market green beans and corn in at the height of August in preparation. Sweet potatoes, pumpkins, cranberries! I love it all, and I use them in both sweet and savory dishes. Pie plays a central roll on the Thanksgiving table, so this year I present a lovely cranberry tart with a snappy ginger cookie crust. It is simple to make and packs a ton of flavor, plus the vibrant color is lovely on the table. The filling in this pie is rich, curdy and custardy, with a sweet-tart flavor set of by the sharp ginger in the crust. It’s an autumnal version of key lime pie. I love this for Thanksgiving, but it is equally suited to Christmas.
I love the puckery ginger of the gingersnap crust, but I have also made this with speculoos cookies which is delicious. Any cookie crust will do really. I add an egg white to the mix so the crust is compact and doesn’t crumble completely when you slice it. You need some juice to make the filling of this pie work, and I recommend 100% cranberry juice – not cocktail or blend – those contain sugar, corn syrup, apple juice and other fillers. You can find 100% juice at healthier stores, but it can be a little pricey and may come in a larger bottle than you want, so I sometimes substitute 100% pomegranate juice, which has the same tartness and a brilliant red color. Either works well. You can serve it straight up, piled with whipped cream or just dolloped. I like to whip some cream with a little powdered sugar and a little of the cranberry or pomegranate juice.
Cranberry Gingersnap Pie
- For the Crust
8 ounces gingersnap cookies (about 32)
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 egg white
- For the Pie
16 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup 100% cranberry juice or pomegranate juice (see above), plus a little extra
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
- For the Crust
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch tart pan with a removeable bottom with cooking spray.
- Break up the gingersnaps a bit with your hands and drop them in the bowl of a food processor, then add the sugar and pulse to crumbs. Add the melted butter and egg white and process until all the crumbs are like damp sand. Turn the crumbs out into the prepared tart pan and press them from the center up the sides of the pan. Use the bottom of a flat glass or measuring cup to press the bottom and the sides into an even surface. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but you can cover it loosely with foil and keep overnight.
- For the Pie
- Put wire mesh strainer over a large mixing bowl and set it near the stove. Put the cranberries, cranberry juice and sugar in a medium saucepan and stir. Cook over medium-high heat until the berries are popping and collapsing. Stir with a heat proof spatula or spoon, crushing the berries as you go. When the berries have all burst, remove from the heat and use and immersion blender to blend until smooth, then pour the mixture into the sieve. Press the berries through the sieve, leaving any skins or seeds behind. Pour into a measuring jug – you should have 2 cups of puree. If you don’t add extra juice to make 2 cups. (if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can simply press the berries through the sieve, but you will likely end up with less puree). Return the puree to the mixing bowl and stir in the evaporated milk until completely incorporated. Beat the eggs in the measuring cup, then add to the cranberry filling and beat until thoroughly combined and no streaks of egg are visible. Pour the filling into the chilled crust and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, just until the top appears dry and the center wiggles just slightly. Cool completely, then loosely cover with foil and transfer to the fridge for at least 4 hours, but overnight is fine.