I’ve forgotten how to relax. How to flop down on a beach with nothing better to do than feel the heat of the sand between my toes, half-listen to nearby chatter and squeals muted by the waves, and just let my mind wander aimlessly. After weeks of jam-packed days filled with long “to do” lists to get our house on the market, I feel guilty about just sitting. You’d think I’d be relieved to just exhale and savor all we’ve accomplished. Instead, I have something tugging at my subconscious, relentlessly whispering that I’ve forgotten something important to do and I’d better get at it.
It makes me wonder how much of life’s busy-ness is built on sheer momentum. We live life at breakneck speed, and when it’s time for our bodies to ratchet down, it takes awhile for our racing minds to catch up with the downshift. As a consequence, one project is barely finished before our minds are off and running to the next one dragging our bodies behind.
But it’s summertime here at Lake Tahoe. Fresh air, long sunny days, mountain hikes among wildflowers, and barbeques at the beach all beckon. I brought a good book, ok I brought seven, my bathing suit, sun hat, and flip flops; and I plan to put them all to good use. Right after we move this weekend…
These little berry mini-pies scream summer, and since my blueberry bushes weren’t quite ready –
they needed another week –
I decided to make this month’s Abby Dodge #Baketogether Very Berry Mini-Pies with a mixture of blueberries and blackberries from our local farmer’s markets. I baked them in a mini-muffin pan
yielding little finger pies about two bites each, making them a perfect light snack in the afternoon, or with my morning yogurt. I cut back on the sugar, added some cream cheese to both the crust and filling, and made the streusel with ground flax seeds with only a tablespoon of flour. Oh and I added a some cocoa nibs. The result was just wonderful!! Thanks Abby for another great recipe to play with this month. Anyone who’s interested in joining in, just go to Abby’s site on the first of each month when she presents us with the newest project. Hope to see you there!
Very Berry Mini Pies
For the Dough
- 1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 6 slices, well chilled
- 2 tablespoons (2 ounces) cream cheese, well chilled
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon very cold water
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the Streusel Topping
- 1/4 cup (5/8 ounce) quick cooking oats
- 1/4 cup ground flax seed
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- Pinch kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cocoa nibs
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3 – 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
For the Filling
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed and dried
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese or homemade mascarpone
- 1 tablespoon coconut milk
Make the Dough
Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and cream cheese and pulse until the butter and cream cheese pieces are slightly larger than pea size, about 10 to 12 pulses depending on your machine. Drizzle the water and lemon juice evenly over the flour mixture. Pulse until the dough begins to form moist crumbs that are just beginning to clump together, about 8 or 9 more pulses depending on your machine.
Dump the moist crumbs onto a workspace and gather into a pile. With the heel of you hand, push and gently smear the dough away from you until the crumbs come together. Two or three ‘smears’ should do the trick. Shape into a 5-inch disc and wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.
Make the Streusel
Put the oats, ground flax seed, flour, salt, brown sugar, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, and cardamom in a small bowl and stir until well blended.
Add the butter and, using a fork (or your fingers), mix and mash until the ingredients are well blended and form small crumbs. Pop in the fridge while you make the filling and assemble the tarts.
Line the Mini-Muffin Pans
Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Abby recommends lightly greasing the muffin cups, but I didn’t find it necessary – probably because I was using such small muffin molds. If you opt for regular sized muffin molds, I’d follow her direction on this.
Set the wrapped, chilled dough on the counter at room temperature until it’s pliable enough to roll, only a few minutes at the most. Arrange a large piece of plastic wrap or parchment on the work surface and put the dough in the center. Cover with another piece of plastic or parchment and press down on the dough to flatten. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough between the plastic or parchment to about 1/8- inch thickness, turning, lifting and repositioning the plastic or parchment and lightly flouring throughout the rolling. Using a cookie cutter a little larger than the muffin molds, cut out rounds. Gather up the scraps, reroll to a 1/8-inch thickness, and cut another round. Repeat until the dough is all used. I ended up being able to make 24 rounds.
Working with one round at a time, use your fingers to gently press the dough into a prepared muffin cup, making sure there are no air bubbles in the bottom and the dough is pressed firmly and evenly up the side to the top of each cup. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds. If your kitchen is hot, slide the muffin tins into the frig while you make the filling.
Make the Filling and Bake the Tarts
Put the sugar, flour, and salt in a medium bowl and, using a table fork, mix until well blended. Add 1/2 cup each of the blueberries and blackberries, and using the table fork, slightly crush the berries while stirring them into the sugar-flour mixture. Add the remaining berries and the cream cheese and coconut milk and toss to coat evenly.
Evenly spoon the filling into the lined muffin cups (they will be completely full). Scatter the streusel evenly over the filling – don’t be shy.
Bake until the crusts and streusel are golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 27 to 29 minutes. Move the muffin tin to a wire rack. Using a paring knife, run the blade between the crust and the pan to loosen the tarts from any sticky berry juices and let cool for 10 minutes. Using a thin, metal spatula or the paring knife, carefully remove the tarts from the muffin cups and set them on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.