Cranberry-Orange Cream Pie with Orange Whipped Cream and Sugared Cranberries

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with Orange Whipped Cream and Sugared Cranberries

For the Crust:
7 full size graham crackers or 1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup walnut pieces
¼ cup light brown sugar
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
pinch salt

For the curd:
4 cups (12 oz.) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup sugar
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 Tablespoon orange zest
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice, from about 2 oranges
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt
12 Tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

For the sugared cranberries (optional):
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
4 oz. (1 ¼ cups) fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar for coating
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

For the orange whipped cream (optional):
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Make the crust:
        Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
       In the bowl of a food processor add the crackers, walnuts, brown sugar and salt. Process until finely ground, about 2 minutes. Add the melted butter and process to coat the crumbs, about 1 minute.
        Press into a 9 inch pie pan. (I use a 9” glass Pyrex pie plate.) Using a metal measuring cup to press it evenly into the bottom of the pan and up the sides makes it easier. Bake the shell until lightly golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Let cool. Can be made one day ahead, covered at room temperature.

Make the Filling:
        In a heavy bottomed medium–size saucepan over medium heat, combine the cranberries, brown sugar, sugar and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until the berries start to burst and break down and the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a high speed blender and puree until smooth. If using a regular blender, you may need a few tablespoons of water, and strain the puree.
        Return the cranberry puree to the saucepan, and add the rest of the curd ingredients except the butter. Over low heat, cook the curd stirring constantly until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. If you have one, when it reaches 170 degrees it’s done, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and bring to room temperature. You can prepare up to 2 days ahead and keep chilled in the fridge
        In a clean blender bowl, add the cooled curd and the softened butter. Blend until completely combined and lightened in color, for one minute. Pour into the crust and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Make the sugared cranberries:
        Place a wire cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium–high heat, add the sugar and water, stirring to dissolve. Add the cranberries to the pan and simmer just until beginning to soften, about one minute. Pour the berries and liquid through a strainer and spread them out on the wire rack. Let them dry at room temperature for 30 minutes until no longer sticky. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and zest. Toss the berries in the sugar mixture and use to garnish the top of the pie. Can be made 2 days in advance and kept in the fridge.

Make the orange whipped cream:
        When ready to serve the pie, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream, confectioners’ sugar, orange zest and vanilla and continue beating until soft peaks form. Stop a little sooner than you think to check the cream, so you don’t over whip it!

Assemble the pie:
        Spoon the whipped cream on top of the chilled pie. Garnish with the sugared cranberries and serve immediately.

        Can be made up to 2 days ahead without the garnishes- very helpful for Thanksgiving. Cover the pie after the filling has completely cooled and chill until ready to use. Remove 1- 2 hours before serving. Serve with the whipped cream and sugared berries, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.      YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Grate the zest off the orange first before you squeeze the juice.
2. Take the time to pick through the cranberries to remove any less than perfect ones.
3. Make sure to cook the curd in a heavy bottomed pot over a low heat, stirring constantly. Since the mixture is a little thick to begin with, it might be a little hard to tell if it’s thickened properly. You want to be able to draw a clean line down the back of a spoon coated with the curd. If you have a thermometer—use it! You want the mixture to reach 170 degrees F.
4. The filled crust and the sugared cranberries can be made 2 days in advance, a boon for Thanksgiving prep! Just whip the cream the day of. Or, leave the cream off, just sprinkle with the sugared cranberries and call it a day. It will still be yummy.