Tart and Sweet Perfection
Have you ever tried to eat a fresh cranberry by itself? If so, you are braver than I. I love the look of them but know that they are not my kind of fruit to pop into my mouth for a snack. As cranberries are a necessity at my Thanksgiving table, I am always trying to figure out what to do with them.
Last week I was flipping through the latest Bon Appetit magazine and saw a Thanksgiving recipe for a spinach puff pastry dish baked in muffin tins. I started thinking of desserts that would be nice to serve individually. Who would have guessed that the inspiration for a dessert recipe would start with spinach as its main ingredient?
Since one thought leads to another, my mind raced from spinach to the cranberries I saw in the grocery store. The vibrant red color is gorgeous and the fruit is perfect for Thanksgiving. I decided to give cranberries a try as the star ingredient.
I cooked the berries on the stove with brown sugar and kirsch for the first round. With cinnamon, ginger, dried cherries, orange zest and orange slices I expected the flavors to work well together.
To say I was off base would be an understatement. The mini pies were so disgustingly tart that neither Shoshana nor I could stand more than one bite. In case you are wandering, yes, I am that person who tries something and when I don’t like it, I still ask someone else to try it…as long as I know the taste is not spoiled.
The second round turned out so beautifully that it almost made up for the horrendous first one. This time around I used granulated sugar instead of brown sugar, deleted the kirsch and added a couple of tablespoons of butter. The end result was the perfect blend of both tart and sweet and using store bought puff pastry as the crust makes this an incredibly easy dessert to make.
When I took Cranberry Cherry Orange Minis to a friend’s house, we decided that the Minis are delicious served on their own, however, adding a scoop of cinnamon ice cream to the plate would be a lovely addition. Another possibility is a Grand Marnier Whipped Cream, but one must keep in mind that the Minis are best served warm, so the whipped cream will melt very quickly. Not, necessarily, a bad thing but good to know ahead of time.
Cranberry Cherry Orange Minis may be made ahead of time and re-warmed just before serving. This means that you not only have a delicious, easy dessert for the Holiday, but you also get to cross it off your to-do list prior to the big day. May your biggest challenge be remembering to serve them!
|Cranberry Cherry Orange Minis|| || |
- 12 ounces fresh cranberries
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1 orange, peeled and cut into pieces (see Betsy’s tidbits)
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 egg, beaten
- additional sugar for sprinkling
- For the minis:
- Combine the cranberries, butter, sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and ginger in a large sauté pan. Sauté on medium high heat until the liquid evaporates, about 20-25 minutes. Add the cherries and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely.
- Once the berries are cool, gently fold in the orange slices. Set mixture aside.
- Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with nonstick spray (i.e. Pam) and set aside.
- Puff pastry will come folded in thirds, like a folded piece of paper. Unwrap the thawed puff pastry onto a floured board. Roll the pastry out until it measures 14” x 12”. Cut pastry into 12 pieces (3 vertical and 4 horizontal) using a pizza cutter or paring knife.
- Transfer the pastry pieces to the prepared pan. There should be an overhang for each piece. If necessary, stretch the pastry a bit with your hands so that each piece fits into a muffin cup with its edges outside the pan.
- Divide the berry mixture evenly between the 12 cups. Fold the corners of each mini over the berries.
- Brush each mini with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake at 400° for 18 minutes. The tops will be golden brown. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Use a small metal spatula to go around the edges of each mini as well as to lift each one up. Cool the Cranberry Cherry Orange Minis in the pan.
- Betsy's tidbits:
- The orange is cut into sections and then each section is cut in thirds. Wrap the sections in paper towels to remove excess liquid.
- The minis need to be lifted up from the pan after 10 minutes to prevent them from sticking to the pan once they cool.