If you’ve never had a huckleberry….you are truly missing out! Considered a super fruit, even more nutritious than blueberries, these beautiful little berries are in a flavor class all of their own! Though kind of similar to blueberries, they have a very distinct flavor that’s hard to describe, other than – – blueberries on Viagra! 😀
I never would’ve even heard of them if it hadn’t been for my hubby, who lived most of his life in Tacoma, Washington, and had relatives in Idaho where the berries grow naturally on the sides of mountains.
He used to go huckleberry picking and got paid quite nicely, because these berries have to be hand-picked from the bushes. They can’t seem to invent a machine that can pick them, so that’s why they are a bit expensive. Worth every red cent, though! If not for their nutritional value, but for their intense flavor!
After longing for a pie, I spied several bags in the freezer that I’ve been hoarding, and decided that I’d better start using them before huckleberry season swings around again! I had remembered a simple pie that I used to make back when I was in high school, and feeling nostalgic, decided that would be a perfect combination for these berries. A creamy, cheesy, refrigerator pie!
I also had a box of Girl Scout Shortbread Cookies that had been sitting in the pantry for almost a year. Since it was completely unopened, I crossed my fingers that they were still ok and not stale. And yep, I tested a few….and had to open a new sleeve for the crust. Oops.
And since I wanted a slight almond flavor in the backseat, I decided to add some ground almonds to the crust as well. I somehow ended up with tons of extra almonds from this holiday’s baking and definitely needed to use some of those up, too.
The only odder than odd problem I had was with the cream cheese. So strange! I’ve always used Philadelphia Cream Cheese, love their products, but this particular package was really funky. It was like it had thousands of little beads of gelatinous pearls like mini tapioca all through it! No matter what I did, I could not beat them or whisk them, or even scare them out getting the cream cheese to a creamy state.
*And this happened during the first mixing with the sweetened condensed milk, before the lemon juice concentrate was added, just to clarify. The beads were not lemon pulp.
I just hope they haven’t compromised their product and are adding these as a cheap stabilizer, and that this was just a fluke. You can clearly see them in the photo.
Luckily, you couldn’t tell at all in the final product that they were there, the filling tasted good, and I’m sure the cream cheese wasn’t spoiled or anything like that.
I’ll let you know if this happens again, though! But here’s the tasty-but-not-so-pretty filling…
After that disappointing experience, I quickly got into a better mood when I got out the berries!
I knew that they wouldn’t let me down! And they were absolutely magical! Just look how gorgeous this homemade huckleberry topping came out! It never fails! 😀
The only difficult thing about this pie….is the waiting for each layer to chill!!
I then whipped up a dab of cream cheese frosting just for decoration. Because, this pie was so pretty it deserved a tiara! 😉
And little slivered almonds were the jewels! What’s a tiara without jewels?!
So if you’ve never tried these incredibly delicious berries, now’s the time! If they still have some frozen ones in stock, you can order them online.
You can order from numerous companies, but we really like NW Wildfoods. A really nice father and son company, but you may have to wait until they come back in season. But be sure not to miss out! These berries should be on everyone’s food bucket list! 😉
Hope you enjoy, and please Think Spring! We received about a 3″ – 4″ blanket of snow last night….so winter is still hanging on! I’m about ready to shoot Old Man Winter in the patootie with a bazooka.
My recipe received Most Clicks!
NORTHWEST WILD HUCKLEBERRY CHEESE PIE with ALMOND SHORTBREAD COOKIE CRUST
1 – 9″ pie
For Shortbread Cookie Crust:
1 sleeve Girl Scout Shortbread cookies, finely crushed, (or 1 1/2 cups fine crumbs)
1/2 cup slivered almonds, finely ground
2 1/2 Tbl. melted butter
For Cheese Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1/3 cup lemon juice concentrate
1 Tbl. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 cups frozen huckleberries
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbl. sugar
1/8 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/8 cup cold water
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 Tbl. butter, cut up
1 cup more frozen huckleberries
Place cookies and almonds in food processor. Process until fine crumbs. While running, stream in melted butter. Press evenly into bottom and up sides of a 9″ pie dish. Bake in 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Cool on rack completely.
For Cheese Filling:
Beat cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk until smooth and lump free, scraping bowl well as needed. Add rest of ingredients and beat again until smooth. Evenly spread onto bottom of cooled pie shell. Chill for several hours or overnight until firm.
For Huckleberry Topping:
Place 2 cups of frozen berries and sugar into medium saucepan. Over medium heat, Gently stir occasionally and cook until sugar has dissolved, there’s some juice, and mixture comes to a boil. Stir in cornstarch slurry, and continue cooking and gently stirring until very thick and clear. Remove from heat and stir in extracts and butter until melted. Fold in last 1 cup frozen berries. Set aside to cool completely. When cool, spoon and gently spread on top of pie.
Decorate top with frosting and slivered almonds if desired.