for the first 25 or so years of my life, i was convinced i hated blueberries, at least fresh ones. my dad would buy them year round and when i would pluck one out of the basket and pop it into my mouth in, say, january, it was never any good. therefore, blueberries must be gross.
so you can imagine my excitement to go blueberry picking with my coworkers on a summer retreat day a few years ago. yes, getting out the office is nice but while they were all excitedly discussing the recipes they were going to make with the huge pile of blueberries we would each amass, i was… somewhat less enthused. my thoughts centered around how i might possibly use them all up in a remotely passable fashion, as the only thing worse than fruit i don’t like is wasting food. (and somehow just not picking very many didn’t seem to be an option that i seriously considered…)
fast forward to blueberry picking day and we’re all traipsing around the blueberry patch with our gigantic coffee cans, plucking berries and dropping (most of) them into the can. luckily, at some point, i decided to sample one of the berries and realized that BLUEBERRIES ARE AMAZING WHEN THEY ARE IN SEASON! especially the big, plump ones that have been basking in the sun the longest.
all of a sudden, i was a woman on a mission and quickly made up for my heretofore lackluster picking. by the time we left the blueberry patch, my coffee can was just as jam-packed as my coworkers’ cans were. AND i was just as excited as they were to start making things with the blueberries we had just picked.
i didn’t have to wait long to sample more of the berries as we continued our retreat at my manager’s house and she made a delicious pie that contained a heaping pile of the berries that had, hours before, been hanging off the blueberry bush. and it was divine.
her pie had graham cracker crust, banana pudding, blueberries, and a whipped topping made with a powder called “dairy whip”. the pie was so good, i had to ask her for the recipe. it turned out to not only be delicious but also simple. as soon as i got home, i put a bunch of my new favorite berries to good use recreating the pie.
over the years, i’ve tweaked her original recipe a bit, turning it into this blueberry banana gingersnap tart. given my love for all things ginger, i pretty quickly swapped the graham cracker crust for a gingersnap crust. and then i decided that the whipped topping wasn’t really adding a lot to the pie, in my opinion, and that i’d rather have the blueberry, banana, and ginger flavors more concentrated so out went the dream whip. at that point, i wanted to see if i could get away from packets all together (the original banana pudding came from a packet). one of my favorite snacks in the summer is banana yogurt with blueberries so that was an obvious substitution for me. i didn’t want the yogurt to make the crust soggy, though, so i strained the yogurt overnight and that produced the perfect consistency for spreading into the crust without letting anything get waterlogged.
now i’m thrilled to have a go-to summer dessert recipe that includes delicious blueberries, requires very minimal oven time (it’s hot enough in the kitchen as it is, thank you!), and is, at least by dessert standards, reasonably healthy. what about you? what is your summer dessert standby?
- 37 – 40 gingersnap cookies (9 oz./255 g.), broken into large chunks
- 6 tablespoons (3 oz./85 g.) butter, melted
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, optional
- 1 pint of blueberries, washed and gently dried on paper towels or a clean, dark colored dish towel
- 12 hours before serving time: set a fine mesh colander over a large bowl. fold the cheesecloth so that it is several layers thick but large enough to fill the colander. put the yogurt in the cheesecloth. cover the top of the whole contraption so the yogurt doesn’t dry out too much and get funny spots on top. put the whole thing in the refrigerator for 12 hours to drain the whey out of the yogurt and bring it to a custard-like consistency.
- several hours before serving time: put a 12″ x 12″ square of aluminum foil on the oven rack below the rack you’ll use to bake the crust (bake on the middle rack). preheat the oven to 350° F. put the gingersnaps in the food processor and let it run for about a minute, until the gingersnaps are finely ground. if you’re using the white pepper, sprinkle that over the crumbs and give the machine a quick pulse to distribute it around evenly. add the melted butter and run the machine until thoroughly combined. put the crumbs in a tart pan with a removable bottom or a springform pan (9″ diameter in either case) and press them evenly across the bottom and up the sides (only part way up the sides if you’re using a springform pan). when you put the pan in the oven, make sure it is centered over your foil square in case any butter drips out through the seam in the bottom of the pan. if the butter lands on the oven floor, it will smoke. bake the crust for 8 minutes; the crust should get a shade darker. cool completely in the pan on a rack.
- at serving time or up to an hour before, carefully remove the crust from the pan and place it on your serving plate. using a flexible scraper/spatula, scoop the yogurt out of the cheesecloth and spread evenly across the cooled crust. cover the top with as many delicious blueberries as you can reasonably cram on! serve immediately.
this recipe is quick to put together but does require some advance planning and the time required is broken into a few stages. the prep time listed is the active time and does not account for draining/cooling periods.
if you don’t have a food processor, i think double bagging the gingersnaps in gallon size ziptop bags and smashing the crumbs with a mallet/heavy ice cream scoop/rolling pin until they are smooth then dumping the crumbs into a bowl and adding the butter would totally work. don’t let a lack of machines keep you from this tart!
store any leftovers refrigerated and be aware that the crust will soften a bit.
tart adapted from my manager polly and crust adapted from smitten kitchen’s nectarine, marscapone, gingersnap tart (which is very delicious)