Why not turn an invasive plant into an elegant dessert? This sumptuous pie starts with a nutty, no-bake graham cracker crust. It’s layered with a thick, sweet-tart autumnberry sauce made from the berries of the invasive shrub, autumn olive. Then it’s filled with an easy to make mascarpone cheese ice cream, spiked with hazelnut liqueur (or another liqueur of your choice).
You can learn how to find autumn olive and harvest its berries right here. If you do not have autumn olive in your area, a great substitute would be another tart, bright red sauce: raspberry sauce.
Gathering the berries and making the sauce are the most time consuming parts of this recipe. That’s why I made the crust and the ice cream super simple. The no-bake crust is delicious and does not get soggy. The ice cream is a one step, dump all ingredients into the food pro kind of thing. It couldn’t be easier.
I got the idea of combining mascarpone cheese with a liqueur from David Lebovitz’s recipe for tiramisu ice cream in The Perfect Scoop. The alcohol in the liqueur keeps the ice cream smooth and soft, and the mascarpone is so rich that you don’t need eggs. So it’s my favorite type of ice cream for a pie. If you don’t have hazelnut liqueur, feel free to use another one. Creme de cacao, almond liqueur, or orange liqueur would be nice choices.
No-bake hazelnut graham cracker crust
If you’re into wild edibles, learn to forage for wild hazelnuts here. But feel free to use store bought hazelnuts, also called filberts, (they taste the same as the wild ones) or another nut of your choice.
- 1 cup of shelled hazelnuts (raw or toasted – I prefer raw)
- 5 oz. graham crackers
- 5 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
- Pinch of salt, if butter is unsalted
- Process nuts in a blender or food processor until finely chopped.
- Break up crackers and add them, and all remaining ingredients, to the nuts. Process until all ingredients are finely ground, well blended, and sticking together enough to fall away from the sides (see photo).
- Press into a 9 inch pie plate, covering bottoms and sides.
- Cover with aluminum foil, and place in freezer for at least 30 minutes. Leave in freezer until ready to use.
The amount of sugar you need depends on how sweet the berries are and your own taste buds. I like it tart: I picked the berries when they had just ripened, around the 1st of September, and used 1/2 cup of sugar. The bit of flour is to keep the sauce from separating.
- 3 cups of ripe autumn olive berries, carefully picked over to remove leaves and twigs
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp water
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus more if needed
- 3/4 tsp flour
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour and sugar until well blended and free of flour lumps. Set aside.
- In a 4 qt saucepan, bring the berries and water to a simmer over medium heat while mashing with a potato masher or the back of a spoon.
- Reduce heat and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes, mashing as necessary.
- Work it through a food mill to remove seeds. Yield of pulp should be about 3/4 to 1 cups.
- Transfer pulp to a small saucepan, add the sugar/flour mixture, and return to a simmer. Add more sugar if desired. Simmer for 7-8 minutes, or until mixture has thickened.
- Cool it completely in the refrigerator, and leave it there until ready to use. Yield should be 1 to 1 and 1/4 cups.
Mascarpone ice cream with hazelnut liqueur
- 2 cups of mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup of half and half
- 3/4 cups of sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup of hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico (though you can substitute with Creme de cacao, almond liqueur, or orange liqueur)
- Puree all ingredients together in a food processor or blender until consistency is smooth and sugar is dissolved.
- Chill for at least 1 hour.
- Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Assemble the pie immediately, while ice cream is soft (do not harden it in the freezer like you would to create scoopable ice cream).
Assemble to make Autumnberry ice cream pie
- Remove crust from freezer and spread about 1 cup of the autumnberry sauce to cover the bottom of the crust.
- Carefully spoon the ice cream over the sauce, covering all portions of the sauce by careful placement of each spoonful, rather than by spreading. (If you spread the ice cream, it will mix with the sauce and the pie will not have separate layers.)
- When all the ice cream has been transferred to the pie, gently smooth the top, without stirring the two layers together.
- Cover with aluminum foil and freeze overnight.
- Garnish with chopped hazelnuts and/or fresh autumnberries, and serve.