Raspberry Vanilla Cream Pie

The last week has been pretty crazy around here, technologically speaking. Lots of changes and tweaks to the blog and website took place that you can’t see, but they’re definitely there. Hopefully, this last week of downtime, 404 errors, and broken links will pay off to a better, faster, more consistent running website for the future. I appreciate your patience with me while everything was sorted out. Now that it’s all up and running (better than ever), we can get back to the business of noms, right?

During all of the technological mumbo jumbo that was taking place this week (the Hubster assumed the role of webmaster, which pleased me to no end), I stumbled upon fresh raspberries at our local grocery store. It’s quite a treat to be able to buy fresh berries here, so I get them at every opportunity…even though it usually costs me an arm, a leg, and a few extra toes for change. It never ceases to amaze me that I live on a tropical island with four ideal growing seasons, yet no one here produces any fruit or veg of any kind. It’s such a disappointment, but I’m all the more grateful for little luxuries like these raspberries when I can finally have them.

I knew as soon as I saw them that I wanted to do something fresh and cool for the summer. My first thought was actually a fresh raspberry pie, but I wanted something that was best served cold. I’ve heard raspberries aren’t a good side to revenge, so that was out. *ba dum bum* ;)

I ended up settling on a vanilla cream pie with fresh raspberry filling.

It was the perfect choice. Up until a day or two ago, it’s been particularly hot here, so this pie was a fantastic dessert to enjoy. It’s a tasty shortbread crust filled with fresh, red raspberries, covered in cool vanilla cream, and topped with homemade whipped cream. Everything about it said “cool, crisp, fresh.” It was easy too, with just a little stove/oven time, so you aren’t trapped in a hot kitchen all day.

The vanilla cream can be made up to four days in advance and kept chilled in an airtight container (with a layer of plastic wrap on the surface of the cream. The whipped cream can be made as much as two days in advance, but as it’s only about five minutes worth of work, I always make it fresh the day I’m serving it. As for the crust, it can also be made a day or two early, as long as it’s kept in an airtight container. I personally think it’s best used within 24 hours, though.

Speaking of the crust, I used the same recipe that I used in my fresh fruit tart last year. It’s super easy because you just pulse the ingredients together in a food processor, press them together into a cohesive dough, wrap in plastic and chill for at least an hour. Last time I made this crust, I rolled it out and laid it into the tart pan I was using, and you can do that here too, but I wanted to keep things easy and simple, so I used the dough as a press in crust instead.

After the dough has chilled, I just break it into several large chunks and spread them out in the pie plate (give the plate a very light spray of nonstick cooking spray). Next, I used the heel of my hand to press the dough into the plate, flattening it into one large piece. Then I used my thumbs to work the dough up the sides of the pie plate, and along the bottom until the dough was consistently the same thickness all over. Pay particular attention to the point where the bottom of the pis plate meets the sides, as the dough will naturally try to build up there, making it much thicker than the rest of the crust. Once the crust is pressed into place, cover it with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

While the crust is chilling, make the vanilla cream. The recipe (included below) calls for milk (preferably whole), an egg, egg yolks, sugar, flour, unsalted butter, and vanilla extract. Set the milk on the stove to heat, then whisk the egg and egg yolks together. Once they are well blended, sprinkle the sugar over the top and whisk it into the eggs until smooth. Next, do the same with the flour, whisking until combined and slightly thickened. Once the milk reaches a low simmer, remove it from the heat. Add about one cup of the hot milk to the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream while whisking constantly. This will temper the eggs so that you can add them to the stove top. Once the milk is blended into the egg mixture, pour the eggs into the saucepan and whisk until combined. Set the mixture over medium high heat, whisking constantly while it comes to a boil. Continue to cook for one more minute (still whisking constantly) until the mixture is very thick.

Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.

Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl and strain the vanilla cream into the bowl. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap on the surface of the cream and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour (I always let mine sit over night). While everything is chilling, you can make the whipped cream, or you can wait until you’re ready to assemble everything and mix it up then (recipe below).

Bake your chilled crust at 350 degrees until golden brown and allow to cool completely before assembling your pie.

First in, the raspberries. Just as they are. I know the urge to clean them is strong, but unfortunately, it will only make them soggy, so try to resist. If you must clean them, do so with a very gentle stream of cool water, then place them one by one onto triple thick paper towels, with they’re holes facing down so that they will drain.

Top the raspberries with the chilled pastry cream.

Use a small spatula to spread and smooth the pastry cream until the raspberries are completely covered.

Finally, heap on every last bit of the whipped cream and smooth it over the whole pie, using a spatula.

I garnished my pie simply, with a few of the fresh raspberries that were leftover, but you could also top it with dark or white chocolate curls or shavings, or a dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder. Or you could just leave it plain…it’ll taste just as wonderful no matter how you decorate it.

This dessert was like a little bit of every cool dessert that you love to eat in the summer time. The crust tasted like mild shortbread cookies, and it was perfectly complimented by the cool, creamy  pastry cream filled with sweet and tart red raspberries. And, of course, the fresh, light whipped cream on top was the icing on the cake. The hubster and our boy really pigged out on this pie. I very much enjoyed it too, but those two were just plain greedy with it. I’m not sure if it’s because I rarely make pies, or if it’s because it really was the perfect, refreshing treat during the hot weather, but they cleaned their plates and then some when I served it.

If you need a lighter, easy, cool dessert that won’t take hours and hours to make, this is an excellent choice. Plus, it can be tweaked in many ways, by using different fruit, other flavors of pastry cream, or even changing up the crust (how about a chocolate crust?). However, you choose to have this, just be sure to have it! Enjoy!

Raspberry Vanilla Cream Pie
with a Shortbread Crust

Makes 1 9-inch pie
Ingredients

FOR THE CRUST
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

FOR THE VANILLA CREAM
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 egg
2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar (3 ounces)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (1 1/4 ounces)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

12 ounces fresh raspberries

FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the crust: In a small bowl, combine the vanilla, cream, and yolk; whisk and set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse once or twice. Distribute the butter pieces evenly over the top and pulse 12 to 15 times, until the mixture looks like course sand. With the processor on low, add the egg mixture and process until the dough just comes together (10 to 12 seconds). Turn the dough onto the counter or a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a 6-inch disk. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Spray a pie plate lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Once the dough is chilled, break it up into a dozen or so chunks and spread them evenly into the prepared pie plate. Use the heel of your hand to press the dough into the plate, flattening it into one large piece. Then use your thumbs to work the dough up the sides of the pie plate, and along the bottom until the dough is consistently the same thickness all over. Pay particular attention to the point where the bottom of the pie plate meets the sides, as the dough will naturally try to build up there, making it much thicker than the rest of the crust. Once the crust is pressed into place, cover it with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake for the crust for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before using.

To make the vanilla cream: Place the milk in a medium sauce pan set over medium high heat. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and egg yolks together. Once they are well blended, sprinkle the sugar over the top and whisk it into the eggs until smooth. Next, do the same with the flour, whisking until combined and slightly thickened.

Once the milk reaches a low simmer, remove it from the heat. Add about one cup of the hot milk to the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream while whisking constantly. Once the milk is blended into the egg mixture, pour the eggs into the saucepan and whisk until combined. Set the mixture over medium high heat, whisking constantly while it comes to a boil. Continue to cook (still whisking constantly) until the mixture is very thick, about 1 to 2 minutes. Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl and strain the vanilla cream into the bowl. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap on the surface of the cream and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour (I always let mine sit over night).

To make the whipped cream: In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the heavy cream on medium high speed until it starts to thicken. Reduce speed to low and sprinkle the sugar into the cream. Return mixer to medium high and continue whipping until firm peaks form. Stir in vanilla. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Place the fresh raspberries in the cooled pie crust. Pour in the chilled vanilla cream and spread it over the raspberries with a small spatula. Top with the whipped cream, spreading it until the pie is completely covered. Chill until ready to serve.

Crust adapted from Baking Illustrated, vanilla cream adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking, whipped cream by Darla

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh my but does that ever look yummy! I love the press-in crust! Can’t wait to try this this summer!
    Maybe with strawberries….we still have them hanging out on every street corner here!

  2. says

    Hi, girls! I’m a Brazilian fan of your blog and I’m always trying these recipes =) Seems delicious and easier with photos (gorgeous ones, actually ^^).

    Thanks for cooking such delightful plates, cooking is a jolly in my life hehe

    Kisses from your fan ~~

  3. says

    Miss Darla- You’ve got me with this one! All of my summer faves wrapped into one dessert! Thanks for sharing! Found your blog last week and so glad I did! :)

  4. Lindsey says

    I was going to make this, but I was wondering if you meant 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or 1/2 c (full stick) in the crust? Thank you so much for clarifying. :-)

    • Alison says

      Yes Lindsey – that’s a great question. 1/2 cup = 1 stick in the butter that is available in Canada…I wonder if the sticks come in 1/4 cup portions in the US?

      • says

        Thank you, Alison, for the help! :) You’re right about it being 1/2 cup= 1 stick. It’s the same here in the US. I have it fixed in the post now but thank you again! :)

  5. kate says

    I was so excited to make this, and it tasted delicious but was unservably soupy. Any ideas what could have gone wrong? Should i have baked the filling in the crust after cooking it on the stove? i chilled it for five hours before serving.

    • says

      Hello, it sounds like you didn’t cook the filling long enough, until it was very thick, before straining it through the sieve. The recipe should be very thick, like pudding, before stirring in the butter and vanilla. I’m sorry that the recipe didn’t work out for you as it should have, but I hope this information helps.

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