Monday, June 25, 2012

Formal Submission for the Blueberry Dessert Research Institute

Enjoying a "sweet" blueberry dessert by candle light -
sorry it's hard to see the actual dessert. I will have to make
another one and take a better picture

 Kings Valley Gardens has about a 1/2 acre of blueberries. This equates to a lot of blueberries… and blueberry desserts. Past WWOOFers formed the Blueberry Dessert Research Institute to document their experimentation with… blueberry desserts (kind of self explanatory). Apparently the past favorite was a blueberry bar.

I wanted to do something kind of like a cheesecake, or a blueberry cream pie. But we eat primarily the food grown on the farm and this food is primarily vegan. Coming up with a way to make the dessert creamy was going to be a challenge. One of the people living here is also gluten intolerant and does not eat much refined sugar so I wanted to make sure that she would be able to enjoy the pie as well. I have seen several recipes for vegan cheesecake using either tofu or cashews. The tofu available had been previously frozen which is awesome for stir fry but means that it is more spongy and less creamy. Cashews are really expensive. 

So what do we have plenty of that is kind of creamy?… Beans! When I worked at the county health department one if the WIC recipes we gave clients was for a low fat pecan pie featuring pinto beans so I knew there was a precedent for a sweet bean pie. After some quick googling I found a white bean pie recipe to serve as inspiration (though I think I tweaked it enough that it can be considered original). 

Blueberry "Cheesecake"
dairy, egg, gluten, and refined sugar free
Makes about 8 servings

I got the crust from This Rawsome Vegan Life
1 cup nuts (I used walnuts)
1 cup dried fruits (usually dates but I used dried plums from the farm)
1 Tbsp water (if necessary)

Blueberries from Kings Valley Gardens, Oregon
Cheesecake Filling
3 cups cooked white beans (it helps if they are very well cooked to the point that they are disintegrating)
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
pinch of salt

Blueberry Topping
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup water
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp Corn Starch or arrow root powder

Equipment: Food Processor OR Blender 8 inch cake pan OR 9 inch pie plate OR spring form pan

To Assemble
Crust: Process nuts in blender or food processor until they are a coarse powder. Remove and place in the baking dish that you chose (pie plate, spring form etc.). Process dried fruit until it is a paste. I had to add the tbsp of water to get this to work, but if you are using a more moist fruit such as a date water may not be necessary. You may also be able to process the nuts and the dried fruit at the same time. The blender I was using is kind of old and I was worried that the fruit would gum it up and the nuts wouldn't get chopped fine enough. Mix fruit paste and nuts with your fingers, you can do this directly in the baking dish. Press crust mixture into the bottom of your baking dish.

Blueberry Topping: Put blueberries and water in a small sauce pan. Sprinkle corn starch over the blueberries and stir with a whisk or form to prevent lumps. Simmer until the blueberries start to break down. You may need to add more water if it seems like the blueberries are sticking to the bottom of the pan. You want a thick sauce at the end. This will take about 5 min. if using fresh berries, and a little longer if you are using frozen. If the sauce does not thicken you can add more corn starch.

Creamy Filling: Blend all ingredients and pour into prepared crust (if you have extra filling save it to eat as "pudding" . 

Pour blueberry topping over the creamy filling. If you have extra save to eat with the "pudding". 

Refrigerate pie for at least an hour

I was kind of surprised at how well this pie turned out.  It opened up a whole new world of creamy pie possibilities.  Plus it's healthy enough that you can eat it for breakfast without any guilt (I often eat pie for breakfast, but this one's probably a better breakfast than most). We couldn't decide if it beats blueberry bars, but I did get points for originality :)

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