Some good friends of mine had a baby recently. Actually, a few good friends of mine have had babies recently, which is rather exciting. In addition to being able to visit and squeeze all the new babies (cheeks! Thighs! Chubby arm folds!), I am also able to test out some new recipes on my ravenous and more-than-a-little exhausted friends and their families.
Wait. That came out wrong, like I am testing out recipes on unsuspecting new parents. I don’t mean it that way. I’ve been known to bring newly developed recipes to potlucks, brunches, and the occasional Thanksgiving dinner, so introducing new dishes to many people at a time is old hat to me. I swear that I only do this sort of thing when I am positive that the recipe is a good one, and that I would never, ever spring a suspicious new dish on people. Nobody wants to be served something revolting, and I certainly don’t want to serve anyone anything that might be categorized as such.
Which is why, when I wanted to come up with a new way to make a blueberry dessert, I decided that the best way to present the blueberries would be in a medium with which I am decidedly familiar: a pie. Specifically, a pie lined with what has become my favorite crumb crust, made with spicy gingersnap cookies in lieu of graham crackers. Topping the pie is a middle layer of cool vanilla custard, and on top of that is a full 3 cups of fresh, plump blueberries. That doesn’t sound like an experiment that could ever go wrong, does it? Of course not. And it didn’t, as I heard from the pie’s recipients just a day after I dropped it off. The last slice of pie had just been happily consumed, the new mother getting the honors of the last bite. As it should be, I think.
Blueberry Cream Pie in a Gingersnap Crust Recipe
9 ounces gingersnap cookies
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange an oven rack to the middle position.
In the bowl of a food processor, process cookies until they are pulverized into small crumbs. Alternately, if you don’t have a food processor, you can crush the cookies in a plastic bag, using a rolling pin or a meat tenderizer. When cookies are crushed, slowly drizzle in melted butter, pulsing the food processor as you drizzle. If not using a food processor, transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl and drizzle in the butter while stirring with a spatula. Add pinch of salt and process or stir until crumbs start to cling together.
Pour the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Using a spoon or a small metal measuring cup, press the crumbs into the pan, covering the bottom, then pressing the crumbs evenly up the sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 8 to 9 minutes, until the edges of the crust are just beginning to color. Remove crust from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
Blueberry Cream Pie
¼ cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups milk
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups fresh blueberries
In a medium saucepan set over medium low heat, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, and pinch of salt. Slowly pour in milk while steadily whisking, making sure the cornstarch mixture does not clump up. Whisk in the egg yolks. Reduce heat to medium low and slowly whisk the mixture for 7 to 8 minutes, until it becomes quite thick. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in vanilla.
Pour the custard into the baked gingersnap crust. Pile blueberries on top of custard. Place pie in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, until custard has set and pie is thoroughly chilled.
Serves 6 to 8 people.