Blackberry Mini Pies – A Delicious Disaster

Home grown blackberries... almost ready
Home grown blackberries… almost ready

I have a blackberry shrub that’s doing great this summer, so after a couple of harvests I’ve got enough to make a pie.  I love to share my treats – and with a berry pie, that’s not easy to do. Solution: make mini pies.

I used refrigerated pie crust because I was kind of lazy*. Of course if you’re not lazy, feel free to whip up a batch of  your own pie crust.

*I generally dislike making pie crusts.

Special tools for this one:

  • Minute Tapioca – I use this in all my fruit pies and it really helps keep them from being runny.
  • A “cutter” for your mini crusts. I used a circular storage container, but any large glass or small bowl will do.
  • A muffin pan. You’ll only use 6-8 of the cups.
  • A good sense of humor when a few of your mini pies end in Disaster!

I’d never let your recipe end in disaster, would I?

Part One: Prep the filling.

It needs to sit for about 15 minutes, so do this first and you’ll be ready to fill once the crust is prepped.

  • 2-3 cups fresh blackberries (depends on the size of your berries, right?)
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Kraft Minute Tapioca
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Rise the blackberries, which should be ripe but not mushy. In a large bowl, gently mix the blackberries, sugar, tapioca, and lemon juice until the berries are coated in a roughly even fashion, set aside. Any berry juice will start to thicken thanks to the tapioca:

Sugar Coated Blackberries - yum!
Sugar & Tapioca Coated Blackberries

Part Two: Roll out the crust…

…on a floured surface – I used a rolling pin on a store bought crust, but don’t make the crust too thin, or you’ll have a small problem getting them out of the pan. (See Disaster! below). Cut your mini crusts like they’re Christmas cookies. I was able to re-roll the crust just fine once, as long as I re-floured the surface. I used a simple storage container and it worked fairly well:

Cut the mini pie crusts...
Cut the mini pie crusts…

Gently lift the mini crusts (I used my thinnest spatula to help with this) and place them in a lightly floured muffin cup. Gently (again!) pat the crusts into the little muffin cups. Too heavy a hand, and you’ll stretch the dough too thin (again, Disaster!)

Crusts are ready to fill.
Crusts are ready to fill.

Part 3: Make the streusel.

Mix the following in a small bowl until crumbly. It’s ok to use your fingers for this part!

  • 3 tablespoons butter, straight out of the fridge

    Brown sugar streusel
    Brown sugar streusel
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, as needed
  • dash of cinnamon, to taste

Squish, prod, stir, mash the ingredients until you get little pea-sized chunks of sugary butter, that stick together when pinched, but fall apart if stirred.

This is a very basic streusel. I often add a couple tablespoons of oatmeal, walnuts, pecans, or other interesting additions depending on my mood. As long as you have a nice butter/sugar ratio, you’ll end up with streusel that sticks to the pie (doesn’t melt completely into it), but remains sweet and buttery.

Part 4: Assemble the mini pies!

Add the berry mixture and top with streusel. If you don’t want to end in Disaster! then I recommend not overfilling with berries, no matter how amazing the little uncooked pies may look before you bake them:

Mini Pies, Pre-Streusel
Mini Pies, Pre-Streusel
unbaked pie
Looks good enough to eat raw, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Bake at 400ºF for 25-30 minutes, until the pie is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.

Part 5: Disaster! (Getting what you didn’t expect)

Is this a disaster? A delicious one, maybe!
Is this a disaster? A delicious one, maybe!

So the berries leaked all over the place. I thought they would bake down into the crust, but I just simply overfilled them. If this disaster happens to you, act quickly.

  1. Don’t panic. Ugly pie tastes delicious.
  2. Carefully scrape as much filling as you can back into the pie, while it’s still warm
  3. Again while still warm, carefully take a butter knife, or similar, and slide around the edges of the pies to keep the filling from setting , which would stick the pies to the pan.
  4. Wipe the knife often, to keep the “clean” crusts from getting gooey, which defeats the whole purpose, right?

With your quick action, and a little luck, most of your mini pies will “spin” around in tin, basically telling you they’re ready to be popped out and set onto a cooling rack. UNLESS you stretched the crust too thin, and the crusts cracked/leaked. Then you’ll need to follow up with plan B.

What disaster? This is exactly how I thought they'd be ;)
What disaster? This is exactly how I thought they’d look 😉

Plan B is for the mini pies that didn’t want to come out in one piece. For those, I scooped out as much of the crust as I could, and quickly transferred them into cupcake liners. I reshaped them into their little pie forms. Once they were cool, they were fine and the liners could be removed.

These taste just as good as the rest, I promise.
These taste just as good as the rest, I promise.

I enjoyed these pies with vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream.

I guess the lesson this time is:

Don’t let a messy presentation ruin a good dessert.

(I’m already thinking of mini pumpkin pies…)

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