Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer Berry Cream Cheese Pie for 4th of July



It's been a quiet holiday, with not a single crack, whiz, snap or boom since there's a ban on fireworks and campfires in Colorado this summer.  It didn't quite feel like the 4th, with no fireworks, celebrating on a Wednesday, and knowing I had to get up for work this morning.

I woke up in the middle of the night Tuesday night after some very strange dreams, and felt completely disoriented.  In the back of my mind, I knew I had the day off work, but wasn't quite sure why.  At 3am, my thoughts don't really make sense, and I couldn't remember if we had the day off for a holiday, or if it was the weekend already...  But either way, it sure felt good to sleep in a little before a relaxing lunch.

We met my parents for lunch out at Famous Daves, after which we went back to their house for dessert, a red, white and blue berry cream cheese pie I made.  This is a cool and creamy, no-bake pie (except for the graham cracker crust), with a pudding-like, slightly lemony, cream cheese filling swirled with jam, and fresh berries piled on top.  We all agreed that it was completely wonderful, and the perfect light dessert to follow our lunch of ribs, pork, shrimp, beans and coleslaw.




I don't remember my dad ever shooting off any fireworks at our house when I was a kid, but we used to go watch the city fireworks every year at the county fairgrounds.  Those were some of my favorite times, lying back in the grass on a blanket, nibbling popcorn and whispering secrets with my sister.  There was the smell of mosquito repellant on my skin, the waiting and waiting for the sky to get dark enough...  and then, at last, the fireworks would start, and we'd watch the explosions in awe, all exclaiming that this year was even better than the last.

My oldest niece was born on July 2, and as she started to understand what her birthday was all about, she thought that the fireworks every summer were in her honor!  But since she just turned 13, she's no longer under that illusion.  :)

I realize this post is coming after the holiday, but if you have any weekend cookout plans, then I don't think anyone will mind you carrying on the red, white and blue theme just a little bit longer.  After all, these colors are too pretty to only celebrate once a year.







Summer Berry Cream Cheese Pie
printable recipe 

crust:
  • 1 sleeve graham crackers, finely crushed
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
filling:
  • 1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) reduced fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
garnishes:
  • 1/3 cup jam or preserves (such as blueberry or seedless raspberry)
  • 2 cups assorted berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and/or raspberries)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a deep-dish pie plate with non-stick spray.

In a bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar and salt.  Drizzle with the melted butter and toss with a fork to combine.  Press evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie pan.  Place in the freezer and freeze for 15 minutes.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool completely.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened cream cheese for 2 minutes.  Beat in the powdered sugar, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla until smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Fold cream into the cream cheese mixture.  Spoon the filling into the cooled crust.  Dollop the jam on top of the filling and gently swirl with a knife, taking care not to disturb the crust.  Arrange the berries on top.

Refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight, before serving.

Yields 8 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen