Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cinnamon Spiked Blueberry Icebox Pie

Remember when I said you should buy up every clamshell of blueberries you can still find at the store? Well that’s partly because I have another blueberry pie up my sleeve. What a minx I am! But this pie couldn’t be more different than my previous azure berry exploit. That blueberry pie was a traditional pie. The kind of pie that comes to mind at the mention of pie. The kind with a tender, buttery crust and a warm, ooey gooey center. The kind that bakes forever in the oven and then cools mercilessly on the counter all afternoon. This blueberry pie is not that kind of pie. This is an icebox pie. Totally different! Ever had an icebox pie? I hadn’t until I made this one. I think I may need a do-over of the last 28 years, just so I can work this pie into my childhood food memories. When I was 5 - barbecue beef (it was my favorite kind of chicken!) and icebox pie. When I was 10 - blueberry pancakes and icebox pie (sounds like quite a combo to me!). When I was 16 - macaroni salad and icebox pie.  Annual Mother's Day picnic - Everett and Jones BBQ and icebox pie (*drool!*).

But what is it?

It’s a chilled pie (a correlation I'm sure you made on your own) with a graham cracker crust, a thick fruit jam filling, and a whipped cream topping. It’s a pie for those hot summer days when you don’t want your oven on for an hour. It’s a pie for when you’re craving something sweet and creamy, yet light and cool. It’s a pie for you, right now. Promise.

It all started a few weeks ago. I had an odd craving for graham crackers - odd because I don’t really ever eat graham crackers. Apart from this pie, the cheesecake squares, and the ‘smores in Reno, I haven’t eaten a graham cracker since I was maybe 14. No joke. (I used to think they ruined the 'smore.  The idiocy of youth, right?)  So when I saw graham crackers on sale that very week, I picked up a box. Why not, right? Then, the very next week, a giant 18oz container of blueberries was on sale for $2! Why,those little buggers hopped into my cart of their own accord. They know a good home when they see one. So there I was, craving graham crackers and mulling over blueberry recipes, and it just clicked. I searched around my Google reader for recipes, landed on a strawberry icebox pie I could modify for my own devilish purposes, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now, let me tell you about this icebox pie. Because you know I gave it the Julie touch. I spiked it of course! I just love the combination of cinnamon and blueberry, so I gave the Goldschlager a second try, and I think it came through much more prominently this time. I used it in the crust and the whipped cream topping, and the cinnamon liqueur flavor that added that hint of something extra I looking for was definitely present. The blueberry jam filling for the pie also turned out great. I let half the blueberries break down into a syrup, and I left out the other half until the very end so they would stay intact. That way it felt like you were still eating a blueberry pie and not a blueberry syrup pie. I wanted some identifiable berry. And I needn’t mention yet again how well brandy goes with berries in baked goods. If you’ve tried it, you know. I kept the sugar in this recipe pretty low because I prefer to let the flavor of the fruit come through, and there’s enough sweetness that comes from the graham crackers (especially sugar-leaden store-bought ones), but you could always add more if you've got a sweet tooth.

Overall, this pie was amazingly good, satisfying my craving and then some! Don't you love it when you make something on a whim and it turns out far better than you expected? It makes it all that much more satisfying, I think.  The crust has that sweet, kind of comforting taste you get from graham crackers, the filling is really just a jam, but a jam you might eat straight out of the jar because it’s so tasty. It's light and summery, yet with the cinnamon and graham cracker crust, almost homey and comforting.  (As good desserts should be. Or maybe I’m just comforted by weird things...)  The whipped cream topping just turns everything to silk in your mouth, brings it all together. It's definitely the star, and I’m not even a whipped cream kind of person.  I think doctoring it up made all the difference. I also really like the proportions of the three components in this recipe. The crust to filling to topping ratio is right on.

Yes, the pie is good.  But really, it's dangerously good. I couldn’t stop eating it! I kid you not, I ate a third of this pie in one night. In my defense, it is a bit of a vertically challenged dessert.  But it's also a baked good of mass waistline destruction, people! Make at your own risk!

But really, make it.  It's yummy.

Cinnamon Spiked Blueberry Icebox Pie

adapted heavily from Shutterbean

For the crust:
10 graham crackers (standard 2 1/2 by 5 inches)
2 TB sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
5 TB melted unsalted butter
2 TB Goldschlager

For the filling:
18oz fresh blueberries
1/4 cup sugar (or more to taste)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 1 1/2 oranges)
3 TB cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup brandy

For the topping:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 TB powdered sugar
1 TB Goldshlager
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers, cinnamon, and sugar together until they are reduced to fine crumbs. With the machine running, stream in the melted butter and Goldschlager and process until the crumbs are moistened. 
  3. Press the crumb mixture into a 9” pie plate in an even layer. Bake the crust for 12-14 minutes until it is golden brown and when you poke it with your finger, it feels like a crust, rather than moistened crumbs. Let the crust cool completely. 
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and half of the blueberries, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let the berries cook until they have started to break down and form a thickened syrup, about 5-10 minutes. 
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and brandy until the cornstarch is fully incorporated. Stir this slurry into the blueberry mixture, and continue to simmer for a few more minutes, until it has thickened to the consistency of a jam. Stir in the rest of the blueberries, reserving a small handful for garnishing the top of the pie. Remove the blueberry mixture from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. 
  6. Pour the blueberry mixture into the cooled pie crust and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 
  7. To finish the pie, pour the heavy whipping cream into the bowl of a stand mixer set with the whisk attachment and beat on high until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar, Goldschlager, and vanilla, and continue to beat on high until soft peaks form again. Be careful not to overbeat! 
  8. Spread the whipped cream evenly over the chilled pie and sprinkle with cinnamon and the reserved blueberries. 


  1. that sounds AWESOME. looks great too.

  2. You must know that I would eat that whole crust plain if give the opportunity. I love graham cracker crumb crusts!!!