Tag Archives: Wild Blueberries

Wild Blueberry Cream Cheese Scones

split with butter 3 625 sqChances are, unless you live in the northeastern area of North America, it is unlikely you have ever experienced the wonder of a fresh from the bush wild blueberry. They differ wildly (pun intended!) from their sibling, the cultivated blueberry. They are smaller, sweeter and more flavourful. The majority of them are frozen and used by commercial bakers all over North America. But, if you are lucky to live in The Maritime provinces, Ontario, Quebec or Maine, you will understand why I squeal with joy when they finally arrive in late July each summer.

In our increasingly global economy, where you can get anything at any time of year, fresh wild blueberries remain one of the few holdouts! They are only available late July-September. And for that I am grateful. There is something to be said for delayed gratification. Sure, you can get cultivated blueberries all year long, from other parts of the world, but nothing compares to the sweetness and burst of blueberry flavour that explodes in your mouth when you eat the wild ones.

There are those who believe that it is a crime to bake with wild blueberries. They are purists and feel that the wild ones should be saved for eating raw and that coercing them into a baked good is heresy. They postulate that only cultivated blueberries should be used for baking. To that group of extremists I say, “Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious!” If you have ever created a muffin or cake with cultivated blueberries, you know of the baking fiasco I refer to. They burst during baking  turning the whole cake a disgusting shade of greyish blue. Wild blueberries are well behaved. They hold their shape perfectly during baking and do not explode.

While each summer I certainly I eat more than my body weight in raw wild blueberries, mixed with Greek yogurt and Double Coconut Granola, I defend the right to use them in baked goods  as well.

I recalled a blueberry cream cheese scone I used to make many years ago, but could not find the recipe, so I did a google search. The blueberry cream cheese scone from Honolulu restaurant Diamond Head Market & Grill kept popping up in my search. Studded with blueberries and chunks of cream cheese,everyone raved about it. Although the bakery refuses to share their secret recipe, Hawaii food blogger Bonnie has cracked the code. Thanks Bonnie! We loved these scones fresh from the oven, but they were even better, split and toasted the next day! mise en place 1The key to these scones is to mix in the blueberries very gently and then carefully push small chunks of cream cheese into the dough. I scooped the dough with a spring loaded ice cream scoop and lightly pressed them with my palm to flatten. A brushing of cream and a sprinkling of turbinado sugar, and they were ready for baking.

gently fold in berries 2piled up 2

Click here to print recipe for Wild Blueberry and Cream Cheese Scones.

cooling 2

 

 

 

Berry Brown Butter Tarts

 

These adorable mini raspberry tarts actually started their life as a cherry tart. It all began a few weeks ago when my brother-in-law sent me a link to this blog. The talented Rowena of Apron and Sneakers made a stunning cherry tart. As soon as cherries started rolling into the market, I bought a big box and got to work.

I had such high hopes for this tart. Fresh cherries in a tart with a brown butter filling. What could be bad? To be honest, the filling was just too sweet for me. I have discovered that I only really like cherries in their raw form. I think it’s that slight snap when you bite into a firm cherry, as it gives way to the sweet juicy fruit inside. For me, when cherries are cooked, they lose what makes them so special.

While the filling was just ok, the crust was fantastic. Buttery, slightly sweet and browned to perfection it was reminiscent of a cookie. I knew I had to make this again, but in mini form so I could maximize the crust to filling ratio. Admittedly, mini tarts are more work than one big tart, but I was convinced it would be worth it. The stands at the market this week were overflowing with raspberries and the little wild blueberries, that make me scream with joy, were just starting to arrive. The heady scent of the ripe berries filled my car and made me slightly dizzy as I drove back to the cottage.

The dough comes together really quickly. No mixer needed. Flour, sugar, vanilla, a pinch of salt and some melted butter are combined in a mixing bowl. The original recipe uses all-purpose flour but I snuck in a bit of whole wheat flour, not because I am delusional to believe that 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour will make this a healthy dessert, but because I thought it would really enhance the nuttiness of this crust. I unearthed my mini tart pans from my basement graveyard shelf of unloved and useless kitchen gadgets. The dough just pressed into the tart pans, no rolling required.

To ensure maximum crunch in the pastry, the shells are pre-baked before filling. While they are in the oven, prepare the  filling. The butter is cooked over low heat until it turns a light brown. Do not walk away when doing this. It goes from light brown to black in a flash! The smell of the brown butter is intoxicating. Brown butter gives a real depth of flavour to the filling.

Click here to print recipe for Berry Brown Butter Tarts.

The crisp tart shell shatters when you bite into it, giving way to tangy berries in a nutty brown butter filling. These are summer perfection!

Wild Blueberry Coffee Cake

On Highway 7, in Ontario, about halfway between Perth and Madoc, there is a stretch of road, about 20 kilometers long, that is dotted with blueberry farm stands, every 2 kilometers, just like this:

I know this because we drove this route mid-July every summer for 10 years, to visit our son at camp. The first few summers we drove the route there was much discussion and bickering about which of the 10 stands would have the best wild blueberries and whether we would look too eager or desperate if we stopped at the very first stand. Then, in 2006 we made a startling discovery. All the berry stands along that stretch of highway are owned and operated by one woman – Isobel Wood. She lives in the tiny town of Cloyne, and the stands are all staffed by her kids and grandkids.

Our kids no longer go to camp but we discovered we can take that same route to visit our friends, The Monkees, at their cottage in the Muskokas. So our wild blueberry tradition is safe.

For those of you who have never tried wild blueberries, it is an experience you will not soon forget. They differ from cultivated blueberries in several ways. Wild blueberries are smaller, sweeter and more flavourful than their cultivated sister. They hold their shape, texture and colour better during baking. As an added bonus, they are higher in antioxidants. And, they are more expensive! (But so worth it)


They also sell bluebery pie and blueberry jam, but for me, the main attraction is the wild blueberries.

Of course we bought way too many blueberries, so I had to bake then into something before they ended up in the compost heap. I am not a huge blueberry pie fan, although I do recall some amazing blueberry buns from Open Window Bakery when I was growing up in Toronto. I opted for wild blueberry coffee cake.

I know that blueberry coffee cake does not sound like the most exciting dessert, but trust me on this one. This cake is moist and dense thanks to the addition of sour cream. It is studded with tons of little blueberries and the topping is a crunchy concoction made from pecans, oats, butter, brown sugar, flour and maple syrup. And the crunch from the topping is still just as crunchy on day 2, should there be any leftovers.

                                         I put together a little video showing how to prepare the crumble topping. Not that video instruction is necessary, this is a simple cake to make, but just because I am having too much fun playing around with iMovie on my new Mac!

Resist the urge to eat this immediately out of the oven. Give it at least 2-3 hours to cool. You can even make it a day ahead of time, as the flavours seem to improve. It also freezes quite well. I made it last week when we had friends visiting. Everyone was full after dinner so we each had a small piece. There was still almost 3/4 of the cake left. I wrapped it up, put it in the fridge and went to bed. When I got up in the morning only about 1/4 of the cake was left. Either I have fridge mice who know how to use a knife or someone was doing some midnight snacking. I’m not accusing, I’m just saying!

Click here to print the recipe for Wild

Blueberry Coffee Cake.