Cranberry Hand Pies

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. It’s starting to get chilly here in Pittsburgh, with some gloomy, rainy days, but we are trying to keep our spirits up by making our home cozy for the holidays. We took advantage of a really nice, sunny day on Saturday, and hung Christmas lights outside on our tree, and around our front door. I’m not sure our neighbors fully appreciate the holiday cheer before Thanksgiving, but last year we didn’t have time to decorate our house, so out of pity, Bill’s parents came over and hung a garland around our door for us. No we didn’t ask them, they are just thoughtful like that.

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Orange Zest and Cranberries

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Many of you may know by now, but I’ve been on a pretty serious protocol for killing some nasty Candida inside me, and after finding out that I was detoxing too hard, my doctor told me some things to do to slow down, and I was so excited that I felt well enough to participate in operation “make the Staley home festive.” It was quite the relief from the many days I was bound to the sofa watching old episodes of Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen on YouTube, which brings me to the inspiration for this recipe! I just love Nigella. I love how real she is (or appears to be), I love how she just does her thing, without a care in the world, whether or not it’s the “correct” way to do it. Mostly, I love how much she loves food.

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I have probably watched her Christmas Cake episode 5 times by now. I didn’t know what Christmas Cake was until watching that episode, but I guess it’s just a type of fruit cake that is served in England during the Christmas season. Fruit cake has never sounded appealing to me, but Nigella describes the cake so poetically (like everything she makes), and has so much passion for everything she is making, that you can’t not love it while you are watching it. Plus who doesn’t love gold glitter on a cake at Christmas time?

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The reason that cake was inspiration for this recipe (which is nothing like cake), is the holiday spices. Nigella includes a lot of orange zest, orange juice, and spice in her holiday recipes, because for her, that’s what the holidays are all about. Tang from orange, and spice from the cloves, cinnamon, and ginger, so I decided to incorporate some of those flavors into the filling for these pies.

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The unexpected thing that came from making this recipe, was that I also made a new recipe for Thanksgiving cranberry relish, because that happens to be the filling for these pies. If you want more Holiday recipes of ours, be sure to grab a copy of our cookbook, Gather! If you don’t want to take the time to make these into little pies, which I wouldn’t blame you if you are hosting Thanksgiving, then you can use this recipe for Cranberry relish to serve with your turkey.

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If you really want to make a pie, but don’t have the time to make the little pies, you can use the pie crust recipe below, but make a standard size pie, and fill with the relish recipe. That’s the great thing about this recipe, and cooking in general: there are ways to make a recipe your own!

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I know it’s awful to say, but I didn’t taste this recipe. I can’t because of the Candida detox, and my desire to put a beautiful holiday dessert on our blog is just as strong as my desire to get better, so my compromise was having Bill and his parents try this recipe. They all said it was absolutely to die for, and they don’t lie. I hope you love this recipe as much as they did, it is festive, flavorful, and beautiful, which are three things everyone wants this time of year.

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Oh and make sure you listen to A Charlie Brown Christmas (by the Vince Guaraldi Trio) while you make this recipe. It’s just the best!


Oh yeah, ONE more thing. Today is the last day (last 12 hours, even) to get the new Best Paleo Recipes of 2014 eBook for 20% off. 150 of the best recipes from 25 of the top names in Paleo. See more from it here!

Best Paleo Recipes of 2014


Spiced Cranberry Sauce

This spiced version of cranberry sauce (aka cranberry relish) is a fantastic side dish for your Thanksgiving meal!

Serves: 8

Serves: 8decrease servingsincrease servings



Note, these instructions are written assuming the standard serving size, since you have modified the number of servings, these steps may need to be modified for best results
  1. Rinse the cranberries under cold water, and place in a medium sized sauce pan.
  2. Add the zest and juice of one orange, along with 1 cup of filtered water, and turn the burner on to medium heat.
  3. Stir the cranberries until they start to pop, and bubble. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and allow the cranberries to continue to cook until you have a mixture of softened, almost gelled cranberries, and some that are still whole.
  4. Stir in the vanilla extract, maple sugar, and apple pie spice, and allow to cook for another 5 minutes or so, and then turn the heat down to low.
  5. If you want a thicker sauce, you can either allow the sauce to continue to reduce, or you can add the tablespoon of arrowroot powder. Typically you wan to whisk starch into a hot liquid, so that it dissolves properly, but that's not possible for this relish, so you just need to stir vigorously and the starch will dissolve just fine.
  6. Once the starch is added, remove the cranberry sauce from the heat and allow to cool.
  7. If you are using this recipe for your Thanksgiving dinner, you can make it a day a head of time, and refrigerate until serving.


This cranberry relish recipe makes more than needed for our Cranberry Hand Pies recipe, so you can serve the remainder of the relish at your Thanksgiving dinner, or can it to make the hand pies another time in the future.


Cranberry Hand Pies

These festive little pies are the perfect addition to your holiday dessert menu!

Serves: 8

Serves: 8decrease servingsincrease servings



Note, these instructions are written assuming the standard serving size, since you have modified the number of servings, these steps may need to be modified for best results
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the maple sugar, almond flour, arrowroot flour, sea salt, and baking soda.
  3. Using your hands, add the palm shortening to the dough. Once the shortening is added to the flours, you will have a crumbly dough.
  4. Lightly whisk the egg whites, and add them to the dough, using your hands again to incorporate, until you have a nicely formed ball of dough.
  5. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of arrowroot flour to the outside of the dough if it's a touch too sticky.
  6. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cooking surface large enough to roll the dough, and dust with arrowroot flour.
  7. Add half of the dough to the parchment, and place another sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough.
  8. Roll the dough into a 1/8 inch thick sheet, and using the rim of a large wide mouth mason jar lid, or an english muffin ring, cut circles in the dough, and remove the extra dough around the outside.
  9. Gently move the circles to your parchment lined baking sheet, and place them about an inch or two apart.
  10. Repeat to create the tops of the pies.
  11. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the Cranberry Relish onto each circle of dough, and just using your finger, run a rim of the remaining egg yolk around the outer area of the crust, so that the top layer sticks well.
  12. Gently place the top layer of crust over the bottom layer with the cranberry relish, and press the edges together with your fingers. Using a paring knife, create 3 slits on the top of the pies, and using a fork, press the edges again to create texture on the outside rim.
  13. Lightly brush the top of the pies with the whisked egg, and place in the oven to bake for 17 minutes on the middle rack.
  14. After 17 minutes, remove the pies from the oven, and turn the oven temperature up to 375, and move the oven rack up one notch. Brush the pies once more with the egg wash, and sprinkle with maple sugar, and bake for 5 more minutes.
  15. Repeat with all steps with a second batch of pies if needed.

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    1. LNikula
      November 18, 2014

      I can’t WAIT to make these. I make cranberry every year for Thanksgiving too and our recipes are very similar, I use honey to sweeten and don’t add allspice but will try your version this year. And those little pies are just about the cutest thing I’ve seen. Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

      1. November 24, 2014

        Thank you! It’s so fun to make! The allspice is a really great way to change things up, so I highly recommend it! You can still use the honey to sweeten the cranberries if you would like. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

    2. Jessica Nicole
      November 18, 2014

      This looks like fun to make! Quick question, is a 1/2 cup of maple sugar the same as 1/2 cup of maple syrup? If not could I use maple syrup instead? Thank you!

    3. Jessica Nicole
      November 18, 2014

      I thought I already commented on this but I was wondering if maple syrup could be used for this? I’ve never used maple sugar before…

      1. November 24, 2014

        You can use maple syrup to sweeten the filling, but not for the crust. I would suggest using granulated maple sugar or coconut sugar for the crust, because a liquid sweetener may change the texture of the crust in which case you would need to change the dry ingredients as well. Hope that helps!

    4. cortneypeacock
      November 18, 2014

      Where can I read more about your candida detox process?

      1. November 24, 2014

        I’m currently working on a post about what I am doing. It should be on the blog in the next few weeks.


    5. seg
      November 28, 2014

      Do you have to use palm shortening or can I use coconut oil or ghee?

      1. December 12, 2014


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