Tag Archives: blackberry


Less than a week from now I will be homeward-bound. I cannot imagine a time in my life when I don’t consider the great Pacific Northwest home. It’s been nearly a decade since I resided there, but it will always be where my family is, where my breath catches and heart stops with its sheer beauty.

Without fail, when I think of the Pacific Northwest during the summer I think of wild blackberries. Of of early mornings in my childhood traipsing through the logging clearcuts, braving the the thorny vines on the search for the small treasures, eating more than I collected. Small, dark as night, and mouth-puckering tart. My platonic ideal of what a blackberry should be. I’ve yet to encounter blackberries elsewhere that even compare.

At some point before my summer became insane with work (in a good way), even before I went out to visit home at the start of June, I spent a day playing with blackberries in my kitchen. It’s one of my very favorite things to do, playing in my kitchen. Taking recipes and mashing them together, tweaking them ever so slightly to incorporate the flavor combinations I’ve come to decide must live together. And when the colors just happen to be two of my very favorites in conjunction with a tasty profile – the stars start singing.

Here’s what we have:

Blackberry Curd Tartlettes with Lime Hazelnut Shortbread Crust and Honey Lime Whipped Cream.

Disclaimer: If all you want is a blackberry pie, please just make a blackberry pie. It will be quicker, easier and way fewer dishes. If you want to spend a day in the kitchen (as I am want to do from time to time), take a stab at these cute little desserts. Or at least make the blackberry curd and eat it on toast, blueberry pancakes (my favorite) or saltines (my mom’s favorite). I’ve also tried making this as a large 11-inch tart, but I prefer the little tartlettes – the ratio of curd to shortbread crust works much better in the smaller version.

Blackberry Curd Tartlettes with Lime Hazelnut Shortbread Crust and Honey Lime Whipped Cream
makes six, 4 1/2-inch tartlettes
Blackberry Curd
(makes ~2 cups)
2 pints (~3 cups) blackberries
1/2 + 2/3 cups sugar (divided)
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 egg yolks
Hazelnut Lime Shortbread Crust
1/2 cup roasted whole hazelnuts
1 1/2 cups (180 g) flour
1/3 cup (80 g) sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
zest from one lime
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Honey Lime Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
zest from 1 lime
3 teaspoons honey

For Blackberry Curd:

Combine blackberries, 1/2 cups granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons lime juice in a medium pan and bring to a boil over medium-heat. Reduce heat and bring to a simmer, cook for about 6 minutes or until berries are soft and beginning to fall apart. Transfer to a small bowl (or blender) and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Strain puree to remove blackberry seeds. Set aside.

In a double boiler (but not over heat yet) whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add egg yolks and blackberry puree and set atop a pot of boiling water. Cook for 10-15 minutes, continually whisking, until color lightens and is thick. Transfer to a blender and allow to cool for 10 minutes. With blender on, blend in 3 tablespoons butter, one tablespoon at a time. Refrigerate in an airtight jar.

For Hazelnut-Lime Shortbread Crust:

Place hazelnuts in food processor and process until finely ground. Add flour, sugar, salt and lime zest and pulse a couple of times to combine. Add butter and using quick pulses, process until dough is in pea-sized pieces. Add lime juice and process until dough comes together in a ball.

Divide dough among (6) 4 1/2-inch tart pans. Press dough into the sides and bottom until evenly distributed. Prick dough several times with a fork. Freeze for 15 minutes. Bake tart crusts at 425º until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Fill crusts with ~1/3 cup blackberry curd. Reduce oven temperature to 350º and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, just until the curd starts to set.

For the Honey-Lime Whipped Cream:

Heat heavy cream in small saucepan just until steam starts to rise. Remove from heat, add lime zest, cover and let steep 30 minutes. Chill thoroughly. Whip until soft form.

Top tartlettes with a dollop of whipped cream.


Something Special

I made something special. Can you guess what it is?

Hint: It was delicious.

Vanilla bean panna cotta with blackberry-lemon puree.

Why something so special?

Because it’s Friday.

And Scott is here visiting.

And it’s been six weeks since we last saw each other.

(Boo for long-distance relationships.)

And I had vanilla beans in my cupboard.

Scott is a tricky person to make treats for. He likes the classics – chocolate chip cookies, pecan pie, chocolate cake (you get the idea). But I get easily bored with making the classics. It’s a difficult situation. But I remembered Scott mentioning about a year ago or so that he had tried panna cotta and found it divine (well, divine is my adjective, but I think it summarizes his experience). You can see that I have a superb memory for details and this time I choose to use my powers for good.

Because I am nice like that.

I admit to being slightly intimidated by the prospect of panna cotta. Just the name sounds fancy. And as it is often described as silky I figured it would be difficult to achieve.

I was wrong.

It turns out that panna cotta is something that takes very few ingredients and not that much hands-on time. I went to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and didn’t mess around. Then I paired with with a blackberry-lemon puree.

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Blackberry-Lemon Puree

6 servings, from Mark Bittman
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta
3 cups cream
1/4 ounce package unflavored gelatin
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Blackberry-Lemon Puree
2 cups blackberries
lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

In a pot, measure one cup of cream. (Don’t have the heat on yet!)

Sprinkle the gelatin over the top of the cream. Let sit for 5 minutes (the surface will get very crinkly.)

Turn heat on low and whisk like crazy until the gelatin dissolves, ~ 5 minutes.

Add vanilla bean, sugar and remaining cream. Turn up heat to medium and cook until steam rises from the cream, ~ 5 minutes, whisking all the while.

Remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.

Remove vanilla bean and pour into small ramekins.

Chill until set, at least 4 hours.

Now for the blackerry-lemon puree.

Collect the blackberries, lemon zest and lemon juice in a blender.

And puree it.

Add the powdered sugar, give it whirl and then put the whole thing through a fine-meshed strainer. 2 cups of blackberries have an astounding number of seeds that will ruin the velvety-ness of the puree.

Honestly, the most difficult thing about this entire process was getting the damn panna cotta out of the little bowls to serve it. I ran a knife around the edges and then put the bowl into a hot water bath, flipped it over with some agitation (and a few swear words) and finally got it to come out.

I guess it just takes practice.

But it turned out amazingly well, given my hesitation towards making it.

I think this one’s a keeper.

Kind of like Scott.