I needed a few cranberries for decoration on the Yule Cake, so with left over 11.75 oz of the 12 oz bag, I saw and made this recipe for a cranberry merengue pie. (You can take the boy out of Vermont…) Never having made one and needing a dessert to augment the smallish Yule Cake, I thought, Let’s give it a try, waste not, etc.
Cranberry Meringue Pie
For the filling:
• 1 12-ounce bag whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
• 3/4 cup water
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 3 large egg yolks
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch
• 4 tablespoons cold salted butter, cubed
• 1 8- or 9-inch pie crust, any kind, par-baked if necessary
For the meringue:
• 150g (or ¾ cup) granulated sugar
• 60ml (or ¼ cup) water
• 60g (or ¼ cup) egg whites (about 2 large egg whites)
To make the filling,
- Combine the cranberries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan with a lid. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue boiling for 3-5 minutes, or until the cranberries have totally disintegrated and the mixture is thick and gloopy. Use a potato masher to speed things up.
- While the cranberries cook, whisk the egg yolks and cornstarch in a large mixing bowl.
- When the cranberries are done, scrape the contents of the saucepan through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl with the eggs and cornstarch. Stir and press on the solids in the sieve until you’ve extracted all the liquid you possibly can, then scrape whatever’s on the bottom of the sieve into the bowl.
- Whisk the cranberry-egg-cornstarch mixture together thoroughly, pour it back into the saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.
- Cook at a full boil for 3 full minutes while whisking. Finally, whisk in the butter piece by piece until it’s completely incorporated and pour the filling into a prepared pie crust.
- Cool on a rack at room temperature until there’s no heat coming off the bottom of the pan, then refrigerate overnight (or about three hours if you’re on deadline and like living dangerously).
- In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to medium-high and allow the syrup to come to a boil.
- In the meantime, add the egg whites to a medium-sized, heatproof bowl and mix (with a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) until foamy and the whites are almost able to hold soft peaks.
- Once the syrup is boiling, clip on a candy (or sugar) thermometer.
- Cook until the syrup reaches 116°C/240°F, then take the pan off the heat and slowly drizzle the hot syrup into the bowl with the foamy egg whites, mixing continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Don’t pour the syrup onto the whisk, or the syrup may splatter against the sides of the bowl (or into your face!). Instead, aim for a spot close to the whisk.
- Once all the syrup has been added, keep mixing until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch and the meringue has cooled down to body temperature.
- Use immediately or keep in the fridge (covered) until ready to use. It’s a very stable meringue, so it won’t start weeping, leaking or collapsing.
Italian meringue can be made two days in advance and stored in the fridge until needed (covered with plastic wrap,) or transferred to a piping bag, sealed, then placed in the fridge.