Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Blackberry Mini Pies with Walnut-Thyme Streusel


I am a pie person.  I like cake, but I love pie.  With summer approaching, it means pie and lots of it.  This month, Abby Dodge graciously gives us Very Berry Mini Pies for the Bake Together challenge.  Thank you, Abby!  I quickly began dreaming about what kind of little pies to bake and what flavors to combine.


Occasionally, I add fresh herbs such as basil or marjoram to stone fruit and berry desserts, herbs that more typically go into savory dishes.  I don’t care for pies that are overly sugared – I want to taste the fruit.  The fresh herbs enhance the flavors of the fruit, and balance out its sweetness nicely.  For the mini pies, I chose to include thyme in the streusel since I thought it a natural pairing with the blackberries I had just picked up.


When I decided to use the blackberries fresh rather than baking them, I knew I needed a filling to anchor them on.  Soft cheeses always appeal to me, so I stirred together goat cheese, mascarpone and ricotta with some honey for a creamy, rich, not-too-sweet filling.


I have also been curious about using coconut oil in place of vegetable shortening.  I was delighted to find the combination of butter and chilled coconut oil yielded a flaky crust that easily shattered – this is a little pie to eat with a fork and not your hands! 


Just in time for summer pies, I had the pleasure of taking a pie making class last week with Shauna Ahern, where she shared her pie making skills and some helpful tips.  I learned I have been rolling pie crust dough all wrong!  She recommends thinking of your dough disc as a clock, and rolling it in 10 minute intervals clockwise around the disc.  This produces a more uniformly even thickness and doesn’t overwork the dough.  Brilliant!  My past method of rolling back and forth, back and forth, and then turning the dough to do more of the same was overworking it and usually ended up quite uneven.  Using this new technique, my pie dough was rolled out quickly and efficiently.


We happily ate all ten of these Blackberry Mini Pies on Father’s Day.  Due to the cheese filling and fresh berries, they should be eaten the same day they are made. Not a hard task with two teenagers diving in!

Blackberry Mini Pies with Walnut-Thyme Streusel
Adapted from Abby Dodge’s Very Berry Mini Pies
Makes 10 mini tarts

For the dough
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 slices, well chilled
2 tablespoons coconut oil, well chilled
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon very cold water
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the streusel topping
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For the filling
4 ounces soft goat cheese
8 ounces fresh ricotta cheese
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons honey
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 ounces blackberries

Place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and coconut oil and pulse until the butter and coconut oil are slightly larger than pea size, about 10 to 12 pulses. Drizzle the water and lemon juice evenly over the flour mixture. Pulse until the dough begins to form moist crumbs that are just beginning to clump together, about 8 or 9 more pulses depending on your machine.

Dump the moist crumbs onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gather into a pile. With the heel of you hand, push and gently smear the dough away from you until the crumbs come together (two or three ‘smears’ should do the trick – the coconut oil will be very soft so don’t overwork the dough). Shape into a 5-inch disc and wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours, or up to 2 days.

Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit out until soft enough to roll, 10 to 20 minutes (depending on your kitchen temp and the weather). Arrange a large piece of plastic wrap or parchment on the work surface and put the dough in the center. Cover with another piece of plastic or parchment and press down on the dough to flatten. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough between the plastic or parchment to about 1/8- inch thickness.  Roll at 10 minute intervals around the disc.  Cut out 8 rounds using a 3 1/2-inch round cookie cutter or glass. Gather up the scraps, reroll to a 1/8-inch thickness, and cut another round. Reroll and cut one more round for a total of 10 rounds of dough.

Lightly butter ten regular-sized (2 3/4- 3 inch diameter) muffin cups in a muffin tin.

Working with one round at a time, use your fingers to gently press the dough into each muffin cup, making sure there are no air bubbles in the bottom and the dough is pressed firmly and evenly up the side to within 1/8 inch of the top of the cup. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds.  Pop the muffin tins into the freezer while you make the streusel.

Put the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, thyme leaves and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, then add the butter.  Pulse a few more times until it is in moist clumps. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and pop in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the streusel for about 14 minutes, stirring after 7 minutes.  When it is golden brown, remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.  Remove the muffin tin from the freezer.  Cut 10 squares of foil and line each chilled crust with one, then fill with pie weights.  Blind bake the crusts for 20 minutes, remove the foil and weights and bake for 5 more minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the 3 cheeses with the honey, zest and salt until smooth. 

Remove the crusts from the muffin tin.  Fill each mini pie crust with just under 1/4 cup of cheese filling.  Arrange blackberries on each pie, 5-6 berries each depending upon the size of your berries.  Sprinkle the streusel on top of each thickly.  You will have some streusel leftover and it is delicious over ice cream or yogurt.  Enjoy the pies right away, or within the same day.

24 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Vanessa! I hope you're doing well and enjoying the start of summer. :)

      Delete
  2. Hannah - just catching up on all your posts. These are my kind of pie - not overly sweet, fresh fruit....Then you added mascarpone and walnuts - they look sensational.
    Hope all is well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Lisa! My kids get out of school this week and we're looking forward to summer. I hope your summer is beginning well!

      Delete
  3. i like the idea of an herb w/ a fruit - any suggestions on what might pair well w/ sour cherries? thanks.

    oh and the tarts to look very good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I think a little fresh rosemary could enhance a sour cherry dessert nicely - I'd use just a hint, though, since rosemary is quite strong in flavor and you don't want it to overwhelm the cherries. Let me know if you try it! :)

      Delete
  4. I love pie too! I don't make it as much as like because it's hard to transport to work to foist on others (so I don't over-indulge) but mini-pies woudl be the solution. I mostly make fruit pies, I just love the taste of fruit--but there are lots of really interesting looking recipes out there to try that don't use fruit. Chess pie, buttermilk pie...Love your suggestions and reports on your experiments. Great tips to keep in mind as we hit prime fruit pie season! Your mini-pies (and your pictures) are gorgeous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sara! I am a pie addict and do not have any will power if one is around - the mini ones were perfect for me to be able to enjoy one and hand the rest off! And I agree with you on all the varieties of pies to make and love...I just came across an old recipe for vinegar pie that sounds intriguing (with a buttermilk base). Basically, any pie filling wrapped in pastry is appealing to me!

      Delete
  5. These are beyooteeful! I love using coconut oil in place of shortening whenever I can get away with it. And desserts are my favorite place to get away with it! Happy First Day of Summer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Brooke! I'm going to try replacing the shortening in my chocolate chip cookies next. Happy Summer to you, too! And it even feels like summer! :)

      Delete
  6. These are adorable! I love the use of thyme in the streusel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lynda! It's fun to play around with herbs and flavor profiles. I hope your summer is off to a relaxing start!

      Delete
  7. These are so sweet!! I am for sure a pie person and I would love to try my hand at these beauties.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Katherine! I love this small size...cute, easy to share and no wrestling to get the first mushed/mangled slice of a whole pie out of the dish (although I always like that piece!). I hope you enjoy them!

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. Thank you, I appreciate you saying so! :)

      Delete
  9. These sound delicious and are so cute, Hannah! I can't wait to make them :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you, Elizabeth! I hope you enjoy the pies. Maybe I'll see you at the market this weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  11. These look adorable & I love the cheeses with the berries, gorgeous looking berries. I'll definitely be trying that pastry too....looks just so wonderfully short :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Mairi! You can't go wrong when you have beautiful berries, can you? I hope you like the pastry - I'm enjoying incorporating coconut oil in more baked goods.

      Delete
  12. What a lovely marrying of flavours and textures - they look gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Lesley! I appreciate your kind comment.

      Delete
  13. Replies
    1. Thank you so much! There's something extra special about little individual pies. I appreciate you stopping by!

      Delete