As I headed to the lake thick with mist, the raspberry canes cascading over my neighbor’s fence were heavily weighted with berries the size of my thumb. They were so fat with brilliant juice that I couldn’t resist sampling one, then two, then at least a dozen before heading on. It’s a going to be a very berry year!
The fragile, luscious raspberry is not one berry, but a collection of smaller berries — drupelets — fused together. This is why they freeze so well, better than strawberries. Now in peak season, their scent is winelike, intoxicating, and they are best served in simple, uncomplicated ways. It’s hard to justify doing anything fussier than spooning over yogurt, layering on angel food cake, or scattering atop a cream-filled pie.
Raspberry canes produce fruit throughout the summer, but they are in high season now. Some varieties can be picked right up to the first frost. Golden raspberries are rare and exquisite with rich, ripe flavor and are even more delicate than red raspberries.
These berries, with their intensely tart sweet taste, are best when paired with cream, which seems to heighten rather than subdue them. Think of the classics — raspberry fools, raspberry syllabubs, and of course, Pavlova. The sharper the fruit the better the contrast it makes to heavy cream’s lush, blissfully rich nature.
When I look for raspberries at the market, I seek plump, bright ones that show no dark spots nor collapse. Once you get them home, place them in a bowl or basket lined with a paper towel or clean dish towel and store them, uncovered, in the refrigerator. Plastic traps moisture and speeds their decay.
Raspberries don’t last more than a couple of days, so enjoy them right away. Rinse them very briefly, then drain and bring them to room temperature before eating. A warm berry has a deeper flavor.
If you have more berries than you can enjoy now, place them in a freezer bag or plastic container and freeze for later. There’s no need to thaw berries before whizzing them into a smoothie. To make an instant raspberry sorbet, just blitz the frozen berries in a food processor.
Raspberries’ perky taste and color is just right with the mild, dusky, gentler sweetness of blueberries, also in season now. Enjoy the pairing.
Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.
Raspberry-Blueberry Cream Pie
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie.
Note: If you don’t have time to make this crust, go ahead and cheat a little with a ready-made frozen crust or use a quick cookie-crumb crust. This combo is also delicious on sponge cake, pound cake, or shortcakes. From Beth Dooley.
Flaky Butter Crust:
• 1 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the surface
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/2 tsp. sugar
• 1/2 c. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• About 3 tbsp. ice water, more as needed
• 1/2 c. heavy cream
• 1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt
• 1 tsp. vanilla
• 2 tbsp. honey, or more to taste
• 2 c. raspberries
• 1/2 c. blueberries
To make the crust: Put the flour, salt and sugar into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 to 15 seconds.
Place this into a bowl and sprinkle 3 tablespoons ice water over the mixture. With a large spoon, stir the mixture into a ball, adding a little more ice water if it seems too dry. Wrap this in plastic or parchment, flatten into a disc, and refrigerate for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Drape the dough over the rolling pin, then move into a pie plate and unfold.
Using your fingers, gently press the dough firmly into the bottom and sides, then trim the excess to about 1/2 inch all around. Press the edges of the crust with a fork or your fingers. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Bake the pie crust until it is slightly firm and becoming golden, about 15 to 20 minutes (it may puff up a bit and blister some, but that won’t be noticed once it’s filled). Remove and cool on a wire rack before filling
To make the filling: In a medium bowl, whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Whip in the yogurt, vanilla and then honey to taste. Place the filling into the prepared pie shell and scatter the berries over all. Chill before serving.
Nutrition information per each of 8 servings:
Calories 255 Fat 17 g Sodium 160 mg
Carbohydrates 23 g Saturated fat 10 g Total sugars 8 g
Protein 4 g Cholesterol 50 mg Dietary fiber 3 g
Exchanges per serving: 1 starch, ½ carb, 3 fat.