I don’t know when Pi Day became a thing, but it’s gotten so well known even my co-workers asked me how I planned on celebrating. As an avid celebrator of holidays you can bet this was not one that would be overlooked. And, while pie is my absolute favorite summer dessert and you can bet your sweet cheeks you’ll see many a recipe in the coming warmer months there is just one teeny, tiny issue I have with Pi Day. You see, baking a pie takes a rather significant amount of effort and is committing yourself to a rather laborious process. And wouldn’t you know, my company still hasn’t come around to it’s senses and given us ‘Pi Day’ off. Tragic, I know. But my friends, fear not as I have a solution. And like all good solutions, it involves a pie that requires zero peeling, dough rolling or lattice making. Not only that, the crust is made almost entirely out of pretzels. Sounds like your pi day plans were just made.
Ok, so technically this is a tart but tarts are great! I consider them a close cousin to the pie as they’re just as delicious and can be done in literally a fourth of the time. I chose blueberries to top my tart but really any berry will do. And while I generally shy away from tarts and custard-filled desserts I have to tell you, the homemade version is about 500X better then any pastry you’ll find at your local bakery. $4 worth of vanilla-bean really does make a difference! Lastly, can we take a moment to discuss that pretzel crust? My husband may or may not have shoved the remaining crumbs in large scoopfuls in his mouth. So, have no shame should you find yourself doing the same. My kitchen is a judge-free zone.
Happy Pi Day from me to you!
*recipe adapted from Bake from scratch magazine
1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3-4 cups fresh berries
1 cup half-and-half
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese, room temp
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- In a medium bowl, stir together crushed pretzels, brown sugar and melted butter. Transfer mixture to prepared pan, pressing into bottom and up sides.
- Bake until set, 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Spoon Mascarpone Cream into prepared crust, and spread to edges. Top with berries of choice before serving
- In a medium saucepan, bring half-and-half and vanilla bean and reserved seeds to a simmer over low heat.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together egg, egg yolk, brown sugar, and cornstarch.
- Gradually add milk mixture to egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return mixture to pan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly until thickened. Don’t be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; continue to whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding.
- Place mascarpone in a large bowl. Strain pastry cream through a fine-mesh sieve over mascarpone, using a spoon to push cream through. Let stand for 30 seconds; stir to combine. Cover surface of cream directly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.