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Easy as (Cranberry) Pie

Posted Sep 24 2013 11:43am
Cranberry Cream Cheese Pie

Cranberry Cream Cheese Pie

The cranberries are coming! The tart, ruby-red fruit is — at least, in my opinion — sadly underutilized. Just about the only time you see it is on the Thanksgiving table, when it’s drowning in refined sugar and is often patterned with imprints from the can it came in. What a far cry from the real deal! Not only are whole cranberries tartly refreshing, they’re a good source of pectin, which means you can simmer them, mash them, and use them as a base for creating a variety of jams and thick sauces. And fresh cranberries freeze beautifully, too, so grab a few bags when they’re on sale.

This pie may look complicated with its four different layers, but two of the four are made by twirling the ingredients in a food processor, one layer is simply stirred together, and the cranberry layer is made by letting fresh cranberries simmer on the stove while you quickly assemble the other layers. So don’t be intimidated by these layers — this recipe is much easier to make than it looks. And it makes a great breakfast, too! After all, we’re talking 100% whole-grain pie crust with homemade cream cheese, fresh fruit, and lots of nuts. Not to mention natural sweeteners like date sugar and maple syrup. Delicious and nutritious!

Cranberry Cream Cheese Pie
Makes a hearty 9″ pie.

For the cranberry layer:
10 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup water

For the crust:
3/4 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup raw buckwheat OR brown rice OR sorghum flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
6 T. chilled butter, preferably from grass-fed cows

For the cream cheese layer:
1 cup cream cheese*
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 T. vanilla
1 egg, preferably from free-range hens
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
Pinch sea salt

For the topping:
1/2 cup rolled oats (be sure to use gluten-free oats if you’re making a gluten-free pie!)
3/4 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup date sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 T. chilled butter, preferably from grass-fed cows

Preheat oven to 375F and butter a 9″ fluted glass pie pan.

Place the cranberries, maple syrup, and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Mash the cranberries with a potato masher about 10 minutes into the cooking time to speed along their softening.

While the cranberries simmer, make the crust. Place almonds, buckwheat flour, and baking powder in a food processor briefly whirl to powder the almonds into flour. Cut butter into chunks and scatter them on top of the flour. Whirl again, just until you have coarse crumbs. Trickle in cold water 1 tablespoon at a time, letting the processor run as you do so. After one or two tablespoons, the dough will start to gather itself, and then it will form a ball and whump! against the side of the processor. Stop the machine immediately. Remove dough — use a spatula to get out as much as you can — and press the dough into the prepared pie pan, spreading it evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Bake 15 minutes or until starting to turn golden brown. Remove to a wire rack.

Make the cream cheese layer by whisking together all of that layer’s ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.

Make the topping by whirling the oats, pecans, date sugar, and baking powder through the food processor very briefly, just until the pecans are starting to break up. Add butter and whirl briefly again. You want a chunky, coarse topping, so don’t overdo it.

Add the filling to the baked pie crust, top with the simmered cranberries, and sprinkle on the topping. (It will be a thick layer.) Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted along the side of the crust comes out clean and the topping is lightly browned.

Let cool on wire rack. Leftover pie can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Enjoy!

* To make your own cream cheese, place plain whole-milk Greek yogurt in a colander and suspend within a large mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, you’ll have homemade cream cheese! Plan on straining about 1 1/2 cups yogurt to get 1 cup of cream cheese.

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