We used to go blueberry picking every summer. We'd pile in the red minivan with armloads of tupperware, drive out to the blueberry farm, and collect our buckets, strapping them around out waists with the old belts they had for borrowing. As the berries ker-plinked, ker-planked, ker-plunked into the bottom of the bucket, I imagined that I was a character in Blueberries for Sal, wandering off along the hillside, straying from my mother and happening upon a mama bear. Though these were farmed, high-bush blueberries (which I called bluebellies, since they look like little blue belly buttons), instead of wild low-bush berries, and there were certainly no bears nearby, it was still easy to pretend.
I haven't been berry picking yet this summer, though I have been picking berries out at the farmers' market, and a few weekends ago, it was fresh blueberries at the Takoma Park Market. I brought them home and whipped them up into a blueberry icebox pie, based on Nancie McDermott's recipe for a strawberry icebox pie, which I made about a month ago. As I said before, this recipe is a wonder, because it's super simple and incredibly versatile. Try it with raspberries or peaches, strawberries or bluebellies or some kind of summery combination--it'll always be good. It also requires little stove & oven time and a lot of refrigeration time, so you don't have to mess around with melted-butter crust dough while you sweat it out in your hot kitchen. Though it might not be a real berry-picking summer so far, I hereby declare this the summer of the icebox pie.
Blueberry Icebox Pie
An adaptation of Nancie McDermott's Strawberry Icebox Pie recipe from Southern Pies
1 1/4 c. gingersnap crumbs
3 Tblsp. sugar
1/3 c. butter, melted
1/3 c. cornstarch
1/3 c. water
5 c. blueberries, ideally fresh (though frozen is okay too!)
1 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tsp. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. heavy cream + 1 c. (extra cup is for topping, optional)
1 c. additional fresh blueberries, (for garnish, optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put gingersnaps in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crackers are finely ground into crumbs. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse until well mixed.
2. Pat the buttery crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan, pressing mixture into the bottom and sides to form a pie crust. Place in oven and bake until crust is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Place on a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature before adding the filling.
1. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl, whisking until all lumps are dissolved. Set aside.
2. Combine blueberries, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium heat until the blueberry mixture comes to a low boil. Stirring often, continue to cook the mixture until a sauce begins to form, about 5 minutes.
3. Re-whisk the cornstarch and water mixture and add it to the saucepan. Continue to cook and stir the sauce until it boils again, becomes thick and berries soften, approximately 3-4 minutes longer. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and vanilla and set aside to cool to room temperature.
4. Meanwhile, whip 1 1/4c. cream in a large bowl until it becomes very thick and holds round medium peaks. Stir in the blueberry jam mixture and gently it in with the cream until evenly combined. Pour filling into the gingersnap crust and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours, until pie is very cool and the filling is quite firm. Serve cold, with extra blueberries and topped with additional whipped cream.