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Cranberry-Lime Pie

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Last year, basically all of Instagram was mesmerized by Bon Appétit’s captivating Cranberry-Lime Pie, and for good reason. Edible things of this technicolor hue usually have food coloring in them, but THIS jewel-toned beauty attributes its vividness to cranberries and only cranberries! I have finally made the pie, and I appropriately fawned over its gorgeous color and its sweet-tart, silky filling juxtaposed by the spicy gingersnap crust. Never has a more (picture) perfect holiday pie existed.

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The pie consists of a smooth cranberry-citrus curd set inside a spiced gingersnap crumb crust, with a handful of sugared fresh cranberries piled on top. I have struggled so much with curds and custards recently, but this one came out blissfully perfect. I made only one significant change, which was to the blending method for the cranberries in the filling, and which may or may not be necessary or better. Because a) I like to play with my immersion blender as often as possible, and b) my regular blender is way up in the cabinet above the fridge and I was being lazy, I chose to blend the cooked cranberries with my immersion blender. The blending step is supposed to produce a smooth purée, but mine was still a little rough, so I pushed the cranberries through a strainer. The result was a smooth, beautiful, bright pink puddle, leaving behind the cranberry skins. In retrospect, I would probably do this again, though using a regular blender avoids the extra step of straining, which requires a lot of elbow grease! However, I sometimes find cranberries too intense, and excluding the skins seemed to mellow out the tartness a bit, letting the lime shine a little more. The texture of the filling was creamy, fluffy, and light, and vanilla whipped cream was a great foil to the tartness– I liked it even better with whipped cream than without.

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This crust is perfect in every way. I baked it for the full 15 minutes, during which it got very puffy. It didn’t slide down the sides of the pan too much, but once it had cooled enough to handle, I did gently press it down evenly and back up the sides to even it out. The sweet/spicy gingersnap flavor against the tart filling is a gorgeous holiday flavor symphony in yo mouffff. As for the sugared cranberries, they should be put on top right before serving. (They were already a little melty/gummy a few hours later.) I love how they look like sparkly little jewels! I also pulled some longer strands of lime zest like the magazine photo because I was feeling fancy. As one does at this time of year.

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Cranberry-Lime Pie
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Yields 8-12 servings

For the crust:

  • 4 ounces (115g) gingersnap cookies
  • 1 cup (120g) pecans
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick/56g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) firmly packed light brown sugar

For the filling:

  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries (or frozen and thawed, though I didn’t try this)
  • 1½ cups (300g) granulated sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks/6 ounces/12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut  into pieces

For the topping:

  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 ounces fresh cranberries (or frozen and thawed, though I didn’t try this)
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • A few longer lime zest strips (optional, but pretty)

For serving (optional):

  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat an oven to 350°F and position a rack in the center.

Make the pie crust:
Pulse the gingersnap cookies in a food processor until you have about 1 cup of very finely ground crumbs. Add the pecans and pulse until they are finely ground and incorporated into the cookie crumbs. Add the melted butter and brown sugar, pulsing to combine. Transfer the crust mixture to a deep 9″ pie plate and press the crumbs firmly onto the bottom and up the sides of the dish, using your fingers or the bottom of a glass. Bake the crust until it is firm to the touch and slightly darkened in color, about 10–15 minutes. If the crust slides down the sides during baking, gently press it back into place while it’s warm and pliable, or press it back into uniformity if needed. Transfer the pan to a wire cooling rack and let the crust cool completely.

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Make the filling:
Combine the cranberries, 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar, and ¼ cup water in a large saucepan and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cranberries burst and most of the liquid evaporates, about 12–15 minutes. Let the fruit cool.

For the next step, you can do one of two things to make the cranberry purée: The recipe says to pour the cranberry mixture into a blender and blend until it’s very smooth. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender, then transfer the mixture into a sieve set over a bowl and press the liquids through. The latter method leaves behind the cranberry skins and the resulting cranberry curd is lighter in color and a bit less tart.

Combine the cranberry purée, eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest, lime juice, salt, ½ cup (100g) sugar, and 1 teaspoon lime zest in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan filled about ⅓ with simmering water; the bowl should not touch the water. Stir the mixture constantly with a rubber spatula, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, until the curd thickens and coats the spatula, about 8–10 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and let the curd cool until barely warm.

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With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the curd, adding the butter one piece at a time and mixing well after each addition before adding the next one, until the cranberry curd looks lighter in color and texture, about 5 minutes. Scrape it into the crust and chill until firm, about 2 hours.

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Make the sugared cranberries and whipped cream:
Do this step shortly before you plan to serve the pie. Bring ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar and ½ cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cranberries and cook until they are just starting to soften, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cranberries to a wire rack placed inside a rimmed sheet pan. Chill in the fridge until they are no longer sticky, about 20–30 minutes.

Toss the remaining ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar and the lime zest (and strips) in a medium bowl, rubbing the lime into the sugar with your fingers. Add the cranberries to the lime sugar and toss them together. Scatter the sugared cranberries on top of the pie; they can be mounded in the center or spread out.

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Whisk the heavy cream for about 1 minute, or until it starts to thicken. Sprinkle the sugar over it and add the vanilla, then whip the cream to stiff peaks. Dollop a little cream onto each slice of pie.

Do Ahead: The crust can be made 1 day in advance. Store it tightly wrapped at room temperature. The pie (without the sugared cranberries) can be made 2 days out. Cover it tightly once the filling is chilled and firm, and keep it in the fridge. The whipped cream can be prepared a few hours ahead. Make it as directed above, then scrape it into a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Cover the cream and place the bowl and sieve in the fridge; the liquid will drain from the cream, leaving a fluffy cloud of whipped cream in the sieve that will not weep. Let the pie sit at room temperature for 2 hours before serving, and make the sugared cranberry topping as close to serving time as possible.

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2017.

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. This includes recipes, photos, and all other original content. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dafna Adler and Stellina Sweets with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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