A few months ago, I spent some time doing volunteer work in Kenya through the volunteer agency International Volunteer HQ. I stayed with a Kenyan family and volunteered at an orphanage, Internally Displaced Persons camps, and with the Masai (warrior tribes in Kenya). It was an extremely moving experience. Read more.

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    Blackberry-Basil Cream Pie

    Monday Apr 30, 2012
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    Blackberry Basil Cream Pie

    Blackberry Basil Cream Pie

    I had my first competitive muay thai fight on Saturday night.  It was an amazing experience.  The lead-up was quite intense with all the training, diet and lifestyle regimen, but it was all worth it the minute I stepped into the ring.

    For a while I was worried I wouldn’t make it to the ring.  There were three of us from my fight team who were scheduled to compete, but first, one girl broke her wrist, then the guy got called away for work and then we wound up spending an evening in the hospital with my coach; I definitely took care with every step I took to make sure nothing happened to prevent me from fighting!

    My opponent was a lovely girl from another gym also competing for the first time.  We were quite evenly matched and both strengths and weaknesses were highlighted.  I was very pleased to be matched up against her for our first bout.  As funny as it may sound given the topic, we were respectful and proper competitors.  I even bought her a cupcake from my friend Lynne afterwards.

    My weaknesses definitely won’t stay weaknesses for long.  I’ll be training hard over the next while to shore them up and can’t wait to get in the ring again.

    blackberry basil cream pie

    yuuuummmmmmmm

    The hardest part of all of this was the restricted diet.  I already eat fairly healthy, but I really had to monitor every morsel and track proteins-carbs-fats, times of day I was eating, portion sizes, cutting out anything remotely unhealthy, etc.  For someone who loves cooking, eating and feeding people, all I wanted to do was bake.  In the limited time I had when not training, I would lovingly turn pages in my numerous cookbooks, gazing longingly at all the recipes I was dying to make.

    I spent the day after my fight in the kitchen, crafting chocolate shortbread and this delectable blackberry basil cream pie.

    I wanted to make this pie since I saw it on the cover of the LCBO’s Spring 2012 Food & Drink magazine.  Layers of blackberry custard and basil-infused whipped cream, topped with syrupy sweetened basil blackberries, it fully delivered on its delicious promise.

    I brought it to a gathering that evening and everyone delighted in its unique flavour combination and smooth, creamy texture.  With multiple steps it does require a little effort, but it is well worth it.  The recipe has already been clipped and put it my MUST-MAKE-AGAIN folder.

    blackberry basil cream pie

    blackberry basil cream pie

    I didn’t take pictures of the sliced pie as it would have been inappropriate to show up to a party with a pie with a missing piece, but you can see the LCBO’s picture; the beautiful purple jewel colour of the custard layer definitely came through in my finished product as well and looked stunning in addition to the exceptional taste.

    Blackberry Basil Cream Pie

    Slightly adapted from the LCBO’s Food & Drink Spring 2012 issue.

    CRUST:

    1 store-bought or homemade deep dish pie shell, pre-baked according to package or recipe directions

    CUSTARD:

    2 cps blackberries

    4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks

    1/2 cp sugar

    1/2 cp whipping cream

    1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

    2 grams powdered gelatin, only if needed (as indicated below)

    TOPPING and SYRUP:

    1/4 cp sugar

    1/4 cp water

    1/4 cp basil leaves, torn, plus extra whole leaves for garnish

    2 cinnamon sticks

    1+1/4 cps whipping cream

    1 cp blackberries

    To make the custard:

    Purée blackberries in blender.  Press purée through a fine mesh sieve into a medium heatproof bowl to get rid of seeds.  Add eggs, yolks, sugar, cream and lemon juice; whisk to combine.

    Bring a saucepan of water to a boil; turn heat down to simmer.  Position the heatproof bowl with the blackberry mixture over (but not touching) the simmering water and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture has thickened.  In the original recipe it says this should take 8-10 minutes.  The mixture did not thicken at all for me, so after the allotted time I added the gelatin, whisked it in, and continued whisking for another 2-3 minutes until the mixture started to thicken.  Remove bowl from over the saucepan and let the mixture cool to room temperature.  When cool, make sure to taste a little before you proceed; this is DELICIOUS.  Spread the custard into the baked crust, smooth the top, and put in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.

    To make the topping and syrup:

    Dissolve the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Once the sugar mixture starts to boil, remove from heat and stir in cinnamon sticks and torn basil leaves; let infuse for 15 minutes.  After infusing, strain the syrup, pressing down on the basil leaves to extract as much as possible, into a small bowl and discard the solids.  Cool to room temperature.

    Whip the cream until stiff peaks form.  Fold in 2 tbsps of the syrup.  Combine the remaining syrup with the blackberries, mashing 2 or 3 to infuse the syrup with purple colour and glazing the rest.

    To assemble:

    Spread the cream over the chilled pie to cover the custard layer.  Just prior to serving, spoon the syrup and berries over the pie and garnish with additional basil leaves.  Alternately you can decorate the pie with blackberries and basil leaves and let the guests spoon the syrupy berries over it themselves.

    Be prepared to sigh with contentment, have at least one more piece, and longingly desire more immediately after it’s finished.

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    3 Comments »

    Wow! This pie looks and sounds absolutely divine! What a perfect pie for the summer!

    April 30th, 2012 | 10:18 pm

    Good for you trying Muay Thai and that’s wonderful that you could be great competitors too! :)

    May 2nd, 2012 | 5:11 am

    Sounds like you deserve every last morsel! What a great pie and a great story. I had no idea you were going to compete. That is amazing!

    May 8th, 2012 | 5:48 pm
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