The month of July is the fresh fruit sweet spot here in The Mitten State. Thanks to our large, north-to-south land mass, the same fruit can be in season somewhere in Michigan for weeks.
Right now, you can find fresh Michigan-grown strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries and plums. By the end of the month, you’ll also be able to find melons, peaches and even some early apples.
If you want the freshest locally grown fruit, hit up farmer’s markets, farm stands and farms that sell their own produce. If won’t be hard to find them. They’re all over Michigan this time of year.
I can’t get enough fresh berries. I wait all winter for them to come into season. I was thrilled when I found strawberries, blueberries and black raspberries at the market this week. After I froze some of the berries to eat this winter when the snow is flying, I whipped up this Mixed Berry Slab Pie. It requires minimal baking, which is great for hot summer days. It’s also large enough to be the perfect dessert for a crowd at BBQ. And just look how pretty it is!
First, you need a graham cracker crust large enough to cover the bottom of a cookie sheet. Smash up enough graham crackers to make 3 ½ cups of crumbs. Mix them with half a cup of sugar and one cup of melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of the cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
While the crust bakes, wash and prepare the fruit. You can use your choice of berries. I used strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. You’ll need six cups total of berries, plus an additional 8 oz. of strawberries set aside to make the glaze.
While the crust cools, you can make the strawberry glaze. Puree the rest of the strawberries and place one cup of puree in a sauce pan with one cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and ¾ cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to stir for 3 minutes or until thick. Pour the glaze into a cold bowl to cool. To cool it quickly, place in the freezer. You want the glaze cool before you stir your fruit into it.
Next, make the cream cheese filling for the pie. In an electric mixer beat together 16 oz. of softened cream cheese and one and a half cups of confectioners sugar. Then fold in 16 oz. of whipped topping. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the graham cracker crust.
Then stir the cooled glaze into the berries. Spread the berry mixture over the cream cheese base. Place the pie in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
Mixed Berry Slab Pie Recipe
Graham Cracker Crust
3 ½ cups of graham cracker crumbs
½ cup of sugar
1 cup of butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the sugar, crumbs and butter. Press evenly into the bottom of a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then set aside to cool.
Fruit Topping and Strawberry Glaze
6 cups of fresh berries of your choice, plus 8 oz of strawberries, set aside
Wash and prepare six cups of berries, removing any stems. Drain well. Puree the additional 8 oz. of strawberries. Place one cup of the puree in a sauce pan. Add 1 cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and ¾ cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to stir for three minutes or until thick. Pace glaze in freezer to chill quickly. When glaze is cool, stir into fresh fruit.
Cream Cheese Filling
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cups confectioner sugar
16 oz. whipped topping
With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar. Fold in whipped topping. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over cooled graham cracker crust. Spread berry mixture evenly over cream cheese filling. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.