Oh, the huckleberry.
The symbol of an Idaho woman: Impossible to domesticate. Impossible to replicate. Growing sturdy from some of the steepest, most inhabitable terrain. Reliable, but not quite predictable. Growing individually from some of the fullest, most bountiful bushes. Sweet, but not quite sugary. One of the natural wonders of the West.
This gem of a berry takes time to harvest, sometimes a full afternoon is dedicated to bring home a coveted gallon. Sunburns, scratches, bug bites, and purple fingers are worn proudly: a sign that the owner of these battle wounds is patient, is in on the secrets of the miles and miles that make up their backyard.
I requested a family huckleberry pick for my 30th birthday while visiting my parents in North Idaho this July. The berries from that day have been patiently waiting in my freezer, slowly being rationed in muffins, milkshakes, and pancakes.
Until the holidays. This is the time, as my mother has modeled and instilled in me, that you sacrifice a large percentage of those precious purple berries to the culmination of the family feast, a dessert of much reverie and repute: the huckleberry cheesecake.
Although recipes for the base cheesecake differ from family member to family member, the thick by topping is non negotiable. It has to be cooked on the stove top with lots of corn starch and a bit of sugar, but the main focus is the cringe worthy amount of huckleberries.
But… tis the season of giving.
So in this spirit, I give you the gift of the huckleberry cheesecake recipe.
- 1&1/2 packages of graham crackers
- 1 stick of butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
*Pulverize graham crackers (in a food processor or smashing them in a plastic bag) and mix with sugar. Melt butter and pour into dry mixture. Push into the bottom of a springform pan.
- 4 (8oz) packages cream cheese (room temp)
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1-2 tsp vanilla
*Mix all ingredients together and pour over crust in springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.
- 3 cups huckleberries
- 3 TBSP corn starch
- 1/3-1/2 cup sugar
*Heat berries and sugar on the stovetop on medium. When enough liquid juice starts to cook out, poor some into a jar, mug, mixing bowl, whatever, and store in cornstarch. Pour this cornstarch slurry back into pot on the stove and turn heat up to high. Stirring constantly, heat berry topping until it thickens. Remove from heat and let cool a bit, then pour onto cheesecake.
Enjoy this taste of July during Christmas.