Vanilla Bourbon Blueberry Mini Pies
One of my favorite childhood stories was a lovely little book called Blueberries for Sal – Have you ever read it?
It’s the delightful tale of a girrrl named Sal and her mother as they go into the country to pick blueberries for winter, all while a tiny bear cub and his mama are eating blueberries on the same hill. The story is sweet and simple like most childhood fables, but the romantic, rustic imagery it lent to picking blueberries has always stayed with me.
The best stories transport you to another place, another time, another world, and that’s exactly what Blueberries for Sal did for me. It made the country life feel fanciful and free, a far cry from my structured, NY-suburban upbringing. Sal was able to wander and mosey, ponder and putter, and inevitably stumble her way into trouble, which was of course my favorite part.
I’ve always gravitated toward characters with hearts of gold + eyes for mischief (see: Maria, Sound of Music; Ferris, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off; Ariel, The Little Mermaid, etc. etc…) so my affinity for little Sal and her blueberry antics was of no surprise. Sal eats all her blueberries when her mother tells her not to, she meanders the hill on her own when directed to stay close, and eventually she ends up following the mama bear, not her own mother. Sal is a harmless little rebel, aching to explore the world on her own terms and making a mild mess along the way. She was cool, adventurous, and inspired me to like blueberries, so it’s only natural that I thought of her throughout every step of this recipe.
My whimsical memories of Sal were a welcome distraction to the fact that it’s almost August, blueberry season is nearly over, and it’s basically already 2016. I mean WHERE is this year going?! Where is my summer, my spring, those 5 pounds I was supposed to lose by April? I’m at a loss for how quickly the time is flying by, so here’s hoping the rest of you are just as panicked. People are already murmuring about fall and I just can’t with any of it – I need more summer, more sunshine, more blueberries, more PIE!
Mini pies, to be exact.
A few weeks ago Dave and I made our way to my parents house to retrieve the bevy of wedding presents that have been squatting in their attic, and a Breville Mini Pie Maker was one of them. At first I was concerned that this contraption would be somewhat complicated, but after breezing through the manual I was pleased to find that using it looked as easy as, well… pie. This video tutorial made the experience even more user-friendly, so for you novice babes I’d say give it a view before churning these out.
And for your seasoned mini-pie makers – How much do you LOVE this thing?! It’s seriously magic, I cannot believe I lived this long without it.
My pie crust is a recipe I’ve had in my back-pocket for a while now, so I’m unafraid to say that it produces a really fantastic crust. It’s buttery without being too buttery, flaky without falling apart, and comes together with just a few stirs, so if you’re not an avid baker or you’ve never made pie before, this is exactly the crust recipe you need.
For the filling I followed my own blueberry crumble recipe but with an added touch of vanilla + bourbon, which was a majorly awesome move. The vanilla and bourbon flavors are super subtle yet add a depth and taste that plays off the blueberry/brown sugar combo beautifully, so definitely don’t skip them. I also made sure that I cooked my blueberry filling before spooning it into my pie maker, which while not entirely necessary, I highly recommend you do it anyway. Pre-cooking the filling only takes a handful of minutes and yields a thicker, gooey-ier, more flavorsome fill, so I’d say follow my lead here.
The end results are much like your standard blueberry pie, but somehow also SO much better. Maybe it’s the pie maker thing? Or the mini thing? Or the easy thing? Or the vanilla & bourbon thing?
Or maybe it’s ALL of these things?
Definitely all of them.
Vanilla Bourbon Blueberry Mini Pies
- PIE CRUST:
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsps Salted Butter
- 2 cups All Purpose Flour, sifted
- pinch of Sea Salt
- 1/2 cup Cold Water
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsps Dark Brown Sugar
- 1/4 cup Water
- 2 tbsps Cornstarch, sifted
- pinch of Salt
- 2 1/2 cups Fresh Blueberries
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1 tbsp Good Quality Bourbon (1 1/2 – 2 tbsps for a stronger taste)
- 1 tsp Lemon Juice
- 1 1/2 tsps Salted Butter
- Begin by preparing the pie crust. Using a handheld cheese grater grate butter into a small bowl, then freeze for 10 minutes (scroll this recipe for details). While butter freezes, combine flour and sea salt in large mixing bowl.
- When ready, whisk cold grated butter into flour mixture until a mealy texture takes hold, then slowly begin adding water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough takes shape. Next, gather dough in a ball and transfer to lightly floured surface. Divide ball in half, then shape into 2 flattened rounds. Tightly wrap each round in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 45 minutes until dough is firm and cold.
- While dough chills, prepare the filling. In medium-sized saucepan heat brown sugar, water, cornstarch, and salt over medium flame until smooth. Next stir in half the blueberries, then cover. Once a boil is reached, remove cover and continue to stir until berries have burst and a thick, bubbling consistency has formed, approximately 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and lastly stir in vanilla, bourbon, lemon juice, butter, and remaining blueberries until well combined. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Preheat Breville Pie Maker until ‘ready’ light illuminates.
- With a floured rolling pin roll out each chilled round into two thin sheets, one slightly thicker than the other. Using your Breville pastry cutters, cut large circles into the thicker dough and small circles into the thinner one. Next, place one pastry base over the center of one pie mold, then using the Breville pastry-press mold your pie crust into the given slot – Repeat until all four molds are lined. Next, spoon ~1/3 cup blueberry filling into each mold, then cover with pastry tops. Lock pie maker closed and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden, then remove cooked pies from maker. Repeat until all ingredients have been used, then eat!
>> This video tutorial is great for familiarizing yourself with the Breville Mini Pie maker.