Blueberry Torte

There are few things are more delicious than juicy berries in the height of summer. So this month, we’ll be featuring our favorite berry desserts, starting with this blueberry torte from Kristen Miglore of Food52. She describes it as “a blueberry pie emptied onto a cheesecake.” Here’s how to make it…

Blueberry Torte

Blueberry Torte
by Kristen Miglore for Food52 Baking

When my aunt first shared this recipe with my mother, they were both pleased that it was a disproportionately impressive pantry dessert. All you had to do was keep a supply of canned blueberry pie filling and packets of Dream Whip on hand, and assuming the rest of your pantry stocks were in shape, you could have a company-ready dessert whenever you needed it. “Turn on oven, mix crust, throw in oven, mix filling, throw pan with crust in freezer, top with cream filling, open can of pie filling and spread on top, stick in fridge until ready for dessert,” she recently told me. “It was a very, very handy dessert when you were little and I was trying to appear that I had it all together.”

This was the version I fell in love with, but I wanted to see if I could make the torte with fresher ingredients. By adding a couple extra steps, I realized I could make even the blueberry layer from scratch. I simmered and mashed a pint of blueberries into a sauce, strained it, then folded in another pint of berries. And, since it’s not always easy to find cans of blueberry pie filling these days, I think my version is pretty practical too.

Recipe: Blueberry Torte
Serves 8

You’ll need:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 9 whole graham crackers)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups whipping cream
21-ounce can prepared blueberry pie filling, as my mom and aunt do (or fresh blueberry filling, recipe below)

Heat the oven to 350F. In a food processor, crumb the graham crackers, then blend in the flour. With the processor running, pour in the melted butter. Stir in the chopped walnuts (you can do this directly in the processor with a couple quick final pulses, but be sure to leave them a little chunky). Press the mixture evenly into the bottom (not up the sides) of a 9- or 10-inch springform pan (in a pinch, other similarly sized cake or pie pans will work). Bake until the crust is dry and a shade darker, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool (if you’re in a hurry, you can chill the crust in the freezer).

Whisk the softened cream cheese with the powdered sugar until completely smooth. In a separate bowl, whip the cream to stiff peaks, then fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Pour this mixture onto the cooled crust (still in the pan), smoothing and evening it out with a spatula.

Spoon the cooled blueberry pie filling evenly onto the cream layer. Chill the torte in the pan until serving — the longer the better, a few hours or up to a day ahead. When ready to serve, set the entire pan on a serving platter. Loosen the torte from the edges of the pan with a knife blade, then remove the outer ring. The pie filling will flow down over edges of torte. (More so if not well chilled.) Serve immediately.

For filling, if you decide to make a fresh version:

1 quart blueberries, divided
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste

In a small saucepan, simmer 2 cups of the blueberries (this is a good chance to use up softer berries) with the water and powdered sugar, stirring and mashing the berries occasionally with a wooden spoon, until they break down completely and the sauce thickly coats the back of the spoon, about 15 minutes.

Pass the blueberry sauce through a fine mesh strainer, pushing it through with a silicone or rubber spatula, then scraping the sauce from the bottom of the strainer (you should have about 1 cup of sauce). Fold in the remaining 2 cups of blueberries. Add the lemon juice, stir, and adjust the sugar and lemon to taste. Set aside to cool.

Blueberry Torte

Thank you, Kristen and Food52! Your baking cookbook is lovely.

P.S. More recipes, including the berry cobbler and baked blueberry oatmeal.

(Recipe excerpted from Food52 Baking with permission of Penguin Random House LLC. Recipe by Kristen Miglore. Photo by James Ransom. This series is edited by Stella Blackmon.)