2 9-inchfrozen pie shells
2/3 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
¼ seedless orange, with peel*
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup roasted pearl onions**
½ cup Sultana raisins
1/3 cup liquid honey
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
Few drops Tabasco or your preferred hot sauce
* Thin-skinned oranges work best.
** For a short cut you can buy jars of small sweet onions (like cipollini) that are either roasted, grilled or caramelized and packed in vinegar and oil are available in gourmet food shops. If you used jarred onions you have to drain the liquid before and remember you can not use cocktail onions!
Thaw pie shells for 10 to 15 minutes while preheating the oven to 400º.
Remove one pie shell from foil plate and press it flat onto a floured pastry board. Sprinkle shredded cheese evenly over top. Remove second pie shell from foil, lay on top and flatten gently.
With a flour-dusted rolling pin, roll out cheese and pastry “sandwich” to 1/8″ thickness. Using 2″ diameter round cutter, cut out 36 circles. (If baking in batches, circles can be kept in single layer on wax paper-lined baking sheet until pans are ready). Extra pastry can be combined and rerolled – no problem.
Fit pastry circles into bottom and up sides of ungreased mini muffin tins (1-3/4″ diameter). Prick with a fork. Bake 12 to 14 minutes until puffed and golden. Cool on a rack. I made these a day ahead and stored in an airtight container until I was ready to assemble
To make cranberry salsa, in small food processor, chop orange until peel is in small pieces. Add cranberries and onions; pulse until cranberries are just coarsely chopped, not puréed. Transfer to a bowl; stir in raisins, honey, sugar, ginger, hot sauce and pepper to taste. Cover; chill overnight, or freeze (I made this two weeks in advance of the party and it froze beautifully).
To serve, spoon room temperature salsa onto Cheddar tarts.