Cranberry Meringue Pie Is the Perfect Holiday Dessert

Cranberries are often the only source of precious, richness-reducing acid on Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner tables, which is why I’ve always insisted that they be present on an equally rich dessert table. This year, I finally succumbed to a recurring pie obsession: what if I made a pie with lemon meringue but cranberries?

If you have a bag of Thanksgiving cranberries taking up space in your freezer, trust me: Cranberry meringue pie is their highest calling possible. (And if you don’t have any leftovers, it’s worth taking an extra bag to make it.) Your family and friends will ooh and aah at the bright purple filling and beautiful swirls of toasted meringue—and they’ll love it. more when they bite. Tart, invigorating cranberry curd goes well with a crispy buttery crust and swiss marshmallow meringue. It doesn’t look like any of the usual holiday cakes, and that’s why you should make it.

Best of all, Cranberry Meringue Pie is a breeze to make, especially given the stunning look of the final product. The filling is a simple no-bake cranberry curd thickened with egg yolks and cornstarch; just cook it on the stovetop, pour it into the prepared crust—or homemade if you prefer—and let it cool. A quick Swiss meringue with lots of vanilla and salt uses leftover egg whites and is firmer than regular raw French meringue, so your cake will still look great by the time dessert is ready.

Cranberry meringue pie

You can use any ready-made or homemade crust you like. I prefer the Smitten Kitchen puff pastry recipe ( I make it in a blender ), but a Ritz cracker crust, a pretzel crust, or even a store-bought Graham cracker crust will work just fine. Just remember to bake it if necessary.

For filling:

  • 1 12-ounce packet whole cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 glass of granulated sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons cold salted butter, diced
  • 1 8- or 9-inch pie crust, any kind, pre-baked if needed

For meringue:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cup (135 g) granulated sugar
  • A generous pinch of salt
  • Generous splash of vanilla extract

To make the filling, combine cranberries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan with a lid. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to simmer for 3-5 minutes or until the cranberries are completely dissolved and the mixture is thick and sticky.

While the cranberries are cooking, whisk the egg yolks and cornstarch in a large bowl. When the cranberries are ready, sift the contents of the pan through a fine sieve into the bowl with the eggs and cornstarch. Stir and press down on the solids in the sieve until you have extracted all the liquid you can, then scrape everything from the bottom of the sieve into a bowl.

Whisk the cranberry-egg-starch mixture thoroughly, pour it back into the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook at full boil for 3 full minutes, stirring occasionally. Finally, beat the butter bit by bit until it is completely combined and pour the filling into the prepared pie pan. Cool on a wire rack at room temperature until no more heat comes from the bottom of the pot, then refrigerate overnight (or about three hours if you have a deadline and love a dangerous life).

To make the meringue, combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and place it over a small saucepan of simmering water. Cook, stirring with a flexible spatula, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is slightly frothy, then add the salt and vanilla and beat to stiff peaks. Sprinkle the cooled meringue pie in whatever pattern you like, toast with a cooking blowtorch or under a broiler, and serve.


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