Monday, August 6, 2018

Recipe for Blueberry Torte—Berry Bliss!

This summer, our strawberry crop was a bust. Last year, we had enough strawberries for weeks of breakfast berryfests and dessert shortcakes, and still had enough extra to freeze 40 quarts. Sadly, this year was a measly harvest: a few pounds for breakfast berries, but as far as freezing for winter? Zilch.

So we’ve doubled down on blueberries for putting up. Last week, John and I picked 28 pounds at our favorite U-Pick blueberry farm to freeze for winter eating. Then, as Berryridge Farm’s blueberry crop ripened, it became clear this year’s yield is crazy! And although I LOVE blueberries, after taking care of the 28 pounds of off-site berries, then harvesting and putting  up over 17 quarts of our own blueberries this weekend, I was actually hitting blueberry overload. Luckily the cure is only one recipe away: Blueberry Torte.

I found the recipe in a family recipe collection a few enterprising Brownes created back in the 80s. The original recipe is for huckleberry torte, but our 3 shrubs won’t have ripe fruit for another couple of weeks, and the birds usually get to it before I do. Also, I adapted the recipe to reflect more modern tastes. Out with the Cool Whip, and in with local whipped cream, and I also reduced the sugar by about two-thirds. It’s still very sweet, and a great way to use up LOTS of blueberries. The recipe is super simple too! Here you go:

Make a graham cracker crust for a 10 inch pie pan.

Next, make your berry sauce. Although it’s a topping, it takes several hours to cool, so it’s a good idea to make it well ahead of time. Put 4 heaping cups of blueberries in a medium sized saucepan and add a small amount of water, just enough to cover the bottom, and bring to a boil. Then add a scant ½ cup of sugar mixed with 1 heaping tablespoon flour. Return to a nice low boil over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the berry mixture thickens—this takes about 10 minutes, then set aside and let cool. The sauce should continue to thicken as it cools. Chill in the fridge.

The middle layer: mix 8 oz. softened cream cheese with 1/3 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. In a separate bowl, whip 1 cup heavy cream with 2 ½ tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Gently fold the whipped cream mixture into the cream cheese mixture until it’s well combined. Spoon into the cooled crust, and when the berry sauce is cool, pour over the cream cheese layer. You can make additional whipped cream to spoon over the berries, but the torte is already so rich and creamy you don’t really need it. Chill for at least 3 hours, then prepare for bliss!

Tip: If you have extra blueberries to freeze, putting them up is easy: I rinse the berries in a colander, let dry on clean towels, then spread on cookie sheets. Freeze for several hours, then pile into gallon-sized plastic bags. They're best eaten within 6 months, but if you keep your berry stash in a deep freeze, the frozen berries are still pretty good by late spring!