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Pear-Cranberry-Ginger Cutie Pies full of flavor

Wed., Sept. 28, 2011

Seattle baker’s cookbook offers sweet, savory treats

These adorable little pies will have you looking for excuses to make them.

Dani Cone, founder and owner of Fuel Coffee and High 5 p1Pe in Seattle, dishes on her minipastries in her cookbook, “Cutie Pies: 40 Sweet Savory and Adorable Recipes” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $16.99). The book was released this week.

Cutie Pies includes ideas for six different pie shapes, including pies baked in a canning jar or muffin tin, handheld turnovers and pie lollipops. There are recipes for both sweet and savory bites in the book.

Here’s Cone’s recipe for Pear-Cranberry-Ginger Cutie Pies:

Pear-Cranberry-Ginger Cutie Pies

Adapted from “Cutie Pies,” by Dani Cone. She writes: “This recipe will be your new holiday favorite. … Festive cranberries and the freshness of fall-harvested pears make a tasty combination and a little kick of ginger makes the flavor unique.”

3/4 cup water

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 (16-ounce) bag fresh or thawed frozen cranberries

4 medium-sized Bosc pears

1/2 teaspoon fresh minced ginger

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 All-Butter Pie Crust (recipe follows)

Whipped cream lightly flavored with vanilla and a hint of ginger, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place a rack in the center of the oven. Spray the cups of a muffin pan with nonstick pan spray.

To make the pie filling, in a large saucepan, stir the water and sugar to combine. Bring the water-sugar mixture to a boil over medium-high, and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves.

Add the cranberries to the sugar mixture and lower the heat. Simmer the cranberries for about 10 minutes or until the cranberries start to pop. Drain the cranberries and set them aside.

Peel, core and cut the pears into 1/2-inch cubes.

In a large bowl, mix together the pears, ginger and cornstarch. Add the cranberries and stir to combine.

To make the crust, follow the All-Butter Pie Crust recipe and roll out per the instructions below.

Cut 16 (5 1/2 inch diameter) circles from the dough. Reroll the dough scraps to make all the circles and avoid overhandling the dough.

Gently but firmly press each dough circle into a muffin cup. For the crust edges, fold, tuck and crimp the edges of each Cutie Pie.

Spoon the filling evenly into the Cutie Pie shells. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. To see if the crust bottom is golden too, use a butter knife to pop a Cutie Pie out of a muffin cup. If the bottom is not brown, bake a few minutes longer. If the pie top is browning too quickly, cover with foil for the final few minutes.

Yield: 16 cutie pies

All-Butter Pie Crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

3/4 cup cold water

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar, and mix well.

Add the butter to the flour mixture, and mix gently with a pastry blender, a fork or your hands. The goal is to lightly incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients. The butter pieces should be well coated with the dry mixture and somewhat flattened.

Gradually add the water to the flour mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time and continue mixing the dough until it comes together and forms pea-size or crouton-size crumbs. The dough should look like coarse individual pieces, not smooth and beaten together like cookie dough.

With your hands, gather the dough crumbs together to form 2 patties, gently molding the crumb-like mixture into a patty shape and being careful not to overhandle the dough. Wrap each patty in plastic wrap.

Chill the dough for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days. The dough can also be frozen for up to 2 weeks.

When you’re ready to use the dough, let it sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes to soften it and make it workable. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each of the 2 dough patties to about a 1/4-inch thickness, lightly dusting it with flour, if needed to prevent sticking, and making sure to roll the dough evenly.

Yield: 1 double-crust 9-inch pie or 16 Cutie Pies


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