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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summertime-in-the-Country Dessert: Blueberry Pie in a Vanilla Ice Cream Cake

The advertisers may already be playing their 'back-to-school' commercials on television, but summer is by no means over yet.  There is still time for family gatherings in the country, backyard BBQs, and beachside birthday parties, which means there is still a desire for cake, ice cream and, you guessed it, pie.

And what says 'summer-in-the-country' better than blueberry pie and vanilla ice cream? With blueberries ripe in Northern Ontario, this dessert is perfect right now to make the pie lovers happy at parties that need cake. Even better, there is no need for the person serving the pie to scoop ice cream onto every piece!

Topped with crunchy caramel bits and caramel-flavoured whipped cream, this recipe turned out to be a very tasty treat. Try it with the from-scratch pie recipe below, or use a store-bought pie, if you are short on time.

RECIPE: Blueberry Pie in a Vanilla Ice Cream Cake

You need:

For the Ice Cream Cake's Crust:
  • 2 cups of graham crackers
  • 1/3 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup of butter
For the Ice Cream Cake & Topping:
  • 1 2-litre tub of vanilla ice cream (or vanilla frozen yogurt)
  • 1 to 2 cups of whipping cream
  • Butterscotch or Dulce de Leche caramel sauce
  • SKOR bits
  • OR White Chocolate Shavings &/OR Shredded Coconut
For the pie:
  • The Perfect Pie Crust - see recipe here
  • 4 cups of frozen or fresh wild blueberries
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 cup of sugar (granulated white or raw, organic)
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. corn starch (use 1 if you don't want a cornstarch flavour)
  • Egg wash: 1 egg yolk mixed with 2 tbsp. water.
Tip: Make your pie and crust the day before. Make sure they are very cold (frozen would be best) when you add the ice cream. Ensure you make the entire cake six hours before you need to serve it, to give it time in the freezer to harden.

Instructions to Make the Pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Once you make the pie crust (see recipe here), then prebake the bottom crust in the oven for 10 minutes to stiffen it a bit. Let cool for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, make your filling.
  3. Place your blueberries, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice in a medium-to-large bowl. Stir until combined.
  4. Place your cornstarch in a small bowl and add 1 tbsp. of cold water and stir until smooth.  Add another tsp. of water if too hard and lumpy.
  5. Pour your cornstarch/water mixture in a circle over the blueberry mixture and stir until well combined.
  6. Carefully spoon or pour the entire blueberry mixture into the pie crust. It will be heaping, so be sure to not spill it all over the crust edges.
  7. Roll out another circle of pie crust and place it over the top of the pie. 
  8. Brush the egg wash under the edges of the crust to seal the top crust to the bottom one.
  9. Brush the egg wash over the entire top crust.
  10. Poke several holes in the top pie crust with a fork to let air escape while baking.
  11. Place your pie on a cookie sheet for easier handling (this also prevents a huge mess in your oven in case your pie boils over).
  12. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. IF you used fresh blueberries, take the pie out if the pie crust is golden brown. IF your blueberries were frozen, check to see that the crust is not burning, and then bake for an additional 15 minutes (total 1 hour cooking time for a pie made with unthawed, frozen blueberries).  If the crust is getting too dark at this point, lightly cover with aluminum foil before continuing to bake for the last 15 minutes.
  13. Let cool completely on a cooling rack and then refrigerate until cold (it needs to be cold so as not to melt your ice cream!) or freeze it, which makes assembly much easier all around.
Instructions to Make the Cake Crust:

  1. Prepare a 9" or 10" round springform baking pan by buttering the bottom and sides. Line with parchment paper if you prefer, and butter the parchment paper.
  2. Place your graham crackers and sugar in a medium bowl and stir briefly until combined.
  3. Melt your butter in a microwavable small bowl for 35 seconds (or just until melted).
  4. Pour the melted butter over the graham crumb mixture and stir until moist and combined.
  5. Press the mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides of your springform pan.
  6. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 12 to 14 minutes (take it out when starting to brown on the sides).
  7. Let cool completely, then chill or freeze until you are ready to assemble the ice cream cake.
Instructions to Assemble the Ice Cream Cake:

  1. Remove the Spring from pan from the refrigerator or freezer, as well as your tub of ice cream.
  2. Moving quickly, scoop out small balls of ice cream and place all over your crust, close together so you don't have to spread around too much (the crust will easily stick and incorporate into your ice cream if you are not careful).
  3. Press down on each ball in order to spread them together.  Try to get a consistent and flat ice cream layer about 1-inch thick or more.
  4. If your ice cream tub and the bottom layer are melting quickly, feel free to put them both in the freezer for an hour or two before finishing the assembly.
  5. Remove pie from the pie plate (and parchment paper, if you used it).
  6. Place the pie on the bottom layer of ice cream. Try to fill in the sides as best as you can. Then, using the same method as you did for the bottom layer, scoop out several balls of ice cream and place them all over the top of the pie. Spread around as best as you can to get about a 1-inch layer of cream. 
  7. Freeze the cake until hard (2 hours in the deep freeze or more - preferably 6 hours or overnight). 
Ice Cream Cake Tips:
  • If your top layer is not perfectly even, don't worry, just get it back into the freezer and you can always open the freezer later and quickly smooth it out  with the back of a spoon.
  • Also, if you can't fill in the sides perfectly (see pic to right for an example), keep a little ice cream in the tub and after you freeze the cake to hard, take it out and quickly try to fill in the sides with the remaining ice cream. Place the springform pan back on the outside to contain it and keep the shape.
  • Use a 'cake caddy' to freeze the cake - this makes it easier once the sides are off.
  • To remove the springform sides, use a hot knife to run around the edges, then remove carefully.

Instructions for the topping (3 options):

Butterscotch or caramel whipped cream topping:
  1. Place whipping cream in a cold bowl (chill bowl and beaters for a few minutes before whipping).  Whip until nearly firm and soft peaks form (if it looks slightly lumpy, you should stop whipping).
  2. Add 1/4 cup (or more depending on your taste) butterscotch sauce to the whipped cream and mix for another 10 seconds until combined.
  3. Immediately place in a pastry bag to decorate the cake, or take the sides of the springform pan off the cake and spread around to cover the top of the cake.
  4. Sprinkle the cake with SKOR bits in whatever quantity you like.
Caramel Sauce and Caramel Crunch:

If you do not have time to make whipped cream, place caramel or butterscotch sauce in a small Ziplock or pastry bag  and cut a tiny bit off the bottom corner. Use this to squeeze out sauce and make crisscrossed lines across the top of the cake, then sprinkle with SKOR bits.

White Chocolate & Coconut:

Top the cake with a mixture of shaved white chocolate and shredded coconut, which always pairs nicely with blueberry.

Work quickly while topping the cake and refreeze after adding the topping!

Serving Tip:

It is easier to make this several days in advance and freeze in a deep-freeze until hard.  Then, if this is not a birthday cake and does not require candles and a song, then you can pre-slice it to make serving easier at the party. To pre-slice, pull it out of the freezer and use hot water to cut each slice.  place back in the freezer as quickly as you can, and take breaks to refreeze it if need be. If you are slicing it at a party, be sure to keep it frozen up to the moment of serving.  Keep a large glass of hot water on hand to heat up your knife to make it easier to slice quickly (before the cake melts!).


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