A Southern Mixed Berry Cream Pie

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If you haven’t already, you must try making a cream pie. ANY cream pie will do. But first a word of caution, you WILL become addicted to them, more-so than any other dish, and this I promise you! But before I dive into the making and more importantly, the TASTING of my mixed raspberry, blueberry and strawberry cream pie, I must first briefly tell you how I came about tackling this recipe.

THE BOOK

Out of the blue my mother informed me one afternoon that she had ordered me something off Amazon.com. If I have one HUGE supporter (besides my Wife) that takes a profound interest in my pie making project and addictions its my mother, who currently resides in Texas.

Southern Pie Book

She didn’t divulge exactly WHAT was coming, but when it finally arrived, I was both surprised and not. Shredding through the stiff Amazonian, cardboard packaging I excitedly ripped out, The Southern Pie Book (Southern Living) by Fan Moon. The South as you may or may not know has always been recognized for their flavorful baking and cooking and pies were no exception. Like any aspiring cook, I welcomed my new book with open arms and at first opportunity, thumbed through every page and devoured every line of text.

THE DAUGHTER

My daughter had grown accustomed to the stacks of books and magazines piled in uneven heaps in the backseat of my Jeep. It was a bad habit I had nurtured and grown over the years, always wanting easy and quick access to reading material whenever I was stuck in traffic or waiting for something. I never have a book, reading or cookbook out of my reach day or night. I’m weird like that I suppose.

One day she noticed the The Southern Pie Book resting atop one of the piles and during one of our bi-weekly commutes to her soccer practice across town, she managed to thumb through the book in its entirety and ‘bookmark’ recipes that looked good, with a stack of post-it notes she found under my seat.

Twenty minutes later she had depleted the entire book of post-it notes and my The Southern Pie Book was completely ‘bedazzled’ with yellow, blue and pink post-its. More importantly she had specifically chosen a special recipe from the book in-which she DECLARED would be ‘OUR’ next pie project. A mixed raspberry, blueberry and strawberry cream pie.

MIXED BERRY CREAM PIE

Several weeks later we finally found some free time to start tackling the recipe.

If you can believe it, we had a surprisingly difficult time finding one of the key ingredients on the list, mascarpone cheese. Yea…I KNOW! Several of the local Albertson grocery stores near me didn’t carry it, and at one point hope began to diminish that we would be able to make this recipe, until I came across it at a Whole Foods store on the far side of town. Recipe SAVED! Back on schedule!

Preheating the oven to 350 degrees, I started in on the shortbread cookie crust, using Lorna Doone shortbread cookies, blended up into crumbs using a small food processor (I have GOT to get me a bigger processor…UGH!). I then measured out the crumb’d mix until I was sure I had 1 2/3 cups, then I gradually added sugar, mixed again, and finally the butter until everything was blended into a crumb-like dough substance. I poured and firmly pressed this blended mix into my pie dish and threw into the over for 10 minutes or so. Pie crust done. Now onto the fruit!

crust01

Within short order, I had sliced and quartered the (pre-measured amount of) strawberries, raspberries and blueberries then taken a portion of these, placed in a bowl and mashed them to essentially a chunky pulp (almost with a ‘salsa’ like look and consistency). Additional ingredients were added to the mixture, including the orange liqueur. I then covered and set this aside for 30 minutes, at the conclusion of which I then drained and preserved the juice in a separate container. The remainder of the fruit, not mashed into pulp, was also placed in a container and into the fridge.

The cream was old hat, having whipped up a number of strawberry cream pie dishes for various functions over the last month or so. I whipped up the heavy cream for a bit, then added in powered sugar, mascarpone cheese and vanilla as directed, until it thickened and held peaks. The spooned half the cream into my now cooled crust, spread a layer of the pulp’d fruit, then spooned in the rest of the cream. Into the fridge the pie went, until the next day, although you really only have to leave it in for 3-4 hours or so. I opted to leave it in overnight as experience has taught me the longer the better, but that’s just me!

THE NEXT DAY…

I awoke the next morning, ‘slithered’ from under the blankets, down off the bed and across the cold hardwood floor, toward the bathroom where a long hot shower awaited me before work. The night’s sleep was good, but when I woke I had an unmistakable craving for my mixed berry cream pie! Apparently I had fantasized about it all night, as did apparently my daughter, who informed me later that morning. So we agreed, that after work and school we would each take our first taste!

The day couldn’t end fast enough, and when we both got home, we pulled out the mixed berry cream pie, right now just a featureless, cream filled pie dish. I took the remaining berry mixture, dumped them on top. The I took the juice from the mashed up berries and poured it evenly across the berry-loaded creamy top of the pie. Done!

Slowly, yet with methodically and with purpose, I cut each of us a good sized slice of the pie….

OMG!

Mixed Berry Cream Pie
The cream was fantastic, blowing my wildest expectations and even besting the taste my previous attempt at a cream pie (which was DAMN good!) when I did my Strawberry Cream Pie. But the cream, as good as it was, didn’t hold a candle to the shortbread cookie crust, which my daughter and I agreed would be our GO-TO pie crust when making any cream pies.

The ‘juice’ which I had drizzled on top of the pie was a bit ‘strong’ with the Grand Marnier Orange Liqueur despite only having to add 2 Tbsp of it, so next time around I may drop that to 1 Tbsp? It was good, just a little strong, and maybe that was just me? Though I would find that surprising since I like the occasional cocktail like anyone else!

berry02

But if I were to compare this to my previously made Strawberry Cream Pie, I would have to give the nod to this Mixed Berry Cream Pie. The cream was just as good in both pies, despite slightly different tastes, but I think the use of the shortbread cookie crust wins it hands-down over the graham cracker crust used in the Strawberry Cream Pie. But YOU be the judge!

MAKES 8 SERVINGS | HANDS-ON TIME 15 MIN. | TOTAL TIME 4 HR., 30 MIN

INGREDIENTS:
FOR THE SHORTBREAD COOKIE CRUST:

  • 1 (7.25-oz.) package of shortbread cookies
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

FOR THE CREAM AND FRUIT FILLING/TOPPING:

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered and divided
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 1 (6-oz.) package of fresh raspberries, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. orange liqueur
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 (8-oz.) containers mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:
FOR THE SHORTBREAD COOKIE CRUST:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. Process cookies in a food processor 30 seconds to measure 1 2/3 cups fine crumbs. Add sugar; pulse 3 times. With processor running, pour butter through food chute; process until blended.
  2. Press crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven to a wire rack, and cool completely (about 30 minutes)

FOR THE MIXED BERRY PIE:

  1. Prepare the Shortbread Cookie Piecrust as directed above, baking in a 9-inch pie plate.
  2. Combine 1 cup strawberries, 3/4 cup blueberries, and half of raspberries in a bowl, mashing with a potato masher until chunky. Stir in granulated sugar, liqueur, and zest into mashed berries. Cover and let stand 30 minutes; drain well, reserving liquid. Cover and chill remaining berries (the ones NOT mashed)
  3. Meanwhile, beat cream, powdered sugar, mascarpone cheese and vanilla together at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
  4. Spoon half of cream mixture into prepared crust. Top with drained mashed berry mixture and remaining half of cream mixture. Cover and chill 3 hours or until firm.
  5. Uncover, top with chilled berries, and drizzle with reserved liquid just before serving.

Recipe from The Southern Pie Book by Fan Moon

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