mini apricot blueberry pies & honey ricotta ice cream

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well."
- Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
One of my favorite summer fruit pairings is the combination of apricots and blueberries. I so adore big, flaky pies and crostatas, but this time I decided to portion the dough into these cute little individual pies.

Each of these pies is the perfect dessert (or breakfast, because I will readily justify anything with fruit as being acceptable for my first meal of the day) and it's conveniently sturdy enough to hold in one's hand if you need to eat on the go. Fortunately for me, I'm the only person in my house who likes apricots. Unfortunately for my cute summer shorts, none of them are currently being worn due to the quite regular recurrence of excessive pie consumption pie tasting that has been going on around here lately. I did attempt to curb my insatiable quality control tendencies by bundling up each pie in plastic wrap and freezing them individually; I told myself that, logically, doing this would help to control my pie eating habit. All I've found, however, is that a half-thawed piece of pie is really excellent with a spoonful of organic apricot preserves and a generous dollop of creme fraiche (And after years of loving sour cream, mascarpone, and ricotta, why am I just now discovering this addictive, incredible cream? I want to spread it on everything.)

I did want vanilla ice cream to go with these pies, of course, because vanilla ice cream (ideally, with lots of vanilla bean flecks throughout it) should never be a negotiable accompaniment where the matter of pie is concerned. I often make some version of a no-churn, eggless, sweetened condensed milk ice cream, and that's nice for fairly quick gratification - just a few hours in the freezer, really, and you've got some great soft serve to scoop over your cooled pie - but I was craving the marriage of floral honey and pungent ricotta cheese in an ice cream, and I also needed to use up a huge container of really creamy whole milk ricotta that I've been neglecting.

A splash of vodka added to the ice cream mixture helps to keep it from becoming rock hard, but you'll still need to plan ahead and let the ice cream sit out at room temperature for about 10 minutes so that it's easier to scoop. A generous dab of vanilla bean paste gives the ice cream those undeniably pretty black flecks throughout, and a grating of fresh lemon zest brightens it up and adds a subtle tang that complements the apricots and blueberries so well. After the ice cream had ripened for only an hour or two in the freezer, I couldn't stop sneaking frequent tastes; it just tastes so fresh and summery.

For the Miniature Apricot Blueberry Pies, make this wonderful, buttery pie dough recipe. Wrap the dough in plastic and gently pat it out into a smooth disc. Chill the dough for about 30 minutes, then divide it into 6 equal portions and roll each piece of dough out on a well-floured surface. Follow these guidelines for making the fruit filling, simply replacing half of the fruit with rinsed, stemmed blueberries and the other half with rinsed, pitted, sliced apricots. You will have 6 individual pies. Whether or not you share them (or hoard freeze them) is up to you.

Honey Ricotta Ice Cream

Yields: about 2 standard loaf pans, each filled about halfway

1 (32-oz) container of whole milk ricotta cheese
1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
3/4 cup raw organic honey
1 tsp pure vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp unflavored vodka
The zest of a whole lemon, optional
The juice of half a lemon, optional

Line 2 standard loaf pans with plastic wrap, leaving extra plastic wrap overhanging on both ends of each pan, and set the pans aside.

Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend on high speed for a couple of minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy and there are no lumps. (Alternatively, you could whisk everything together in a very large bowl until smooth.) Pour the mixture into the loaf pans, dividing evenly between the two pans.

Fold the plastic wrap over the ice cream and gently press against the top of the mixture. Freeze for a few hours or overnight before serving.

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