RECIPES: Wild Blackberry bars, jam, cocktails and other delicious diversions

At TasteReport.com, we think of the Wild Himalayan Blackberry as a challenging but beautiful friend with benefits — one taste, and you'll be singing the praises of this prolific plant, too. A delicious berry to forage for free across Canada's west coast and islands.

Tasty blackberry bars. Cinda Chavich photos


BLACKBERRY BARS

Nothing says summer like fresh fruit pies – but I also like to make this pie/square hybrid, a bar that’s perfect to share with a group or haul along to a summer picnic.


4 cups fresh blackberries (or a combination of blackberries, blueberries and raspberries)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Zest and juice of one lemon, divided

1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes (and extra for buttering the pan)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Start by preheating the oven to 375°F. Find an oblong baking pan — a 9×13 inch or 8X11 pan for thicker squares — and rub the base and sides generously with butter.

In a bowl, combine the fruit, cornstarch, ½ cup of the sugar, and half of the lemon juice. Stir and set aside.

Use the food processor to quickly make the pastry base/topping — combine the remaining 1 cup of sugar, the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and lemon zest to the bowl and pulse to combine. Then add the cubed butter, whole egg, half of the lemon juice and vanilla. Continue to pulse until the dough comes together in a crumbly mass. Use two-thirds of the mixture for the base, patting it into the prepared pan, then top with the berry mixture. Crumble the remaining dough in an even layer over the fruit.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes, or until top is beginning to brown. Reduce heat to 325°F and bake 10-15 minutes longer, until bubbling and set.

Remove from the oven and set the pan on a rack to cool. Cut into larger squares for a dessert (dust with icing sugar for a pretty presentation and serve with whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream). Or cut into smaller bars for lunches and picnics. Store in an airtight container. May be individually wrapped for portability.

Make 12 to 16 squares.


BLACKBERRY JAM

The perfect way to preserve summer flavour in a jar.



6 cups blackberries (or half blackberries, half blueberries)

4 cups sugar (approximately – see instructions)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon butter

1 pouch liquid pectin (about 75 ml)


Fill a large canner pot with hot water and bring to a boil. Wash berries under running water and drain in a colander.

Place the berries in a large bowl and crush the fruit with a potato masher. Measure the fruit and place in a large heavy saucepan. Add an equal amount of sugar, then stir in the lemon juice and butter.

Bring mixture to a boil. Add the pectin, stir and boil for 2 minutes longer. Skim any foam from the surface and ladle into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¼-1/2 inch headspace.

Wipe rims, top with two-piece canning lids and screw the bands on, just “finger tip tight.”

Lower the jars into the canner, making sure they are covered by at least 1 inch of water and boil (process) for 10 minutes. Remove jars and set on a folded towel on the counter. Leave to cool completely (the lids will pop down and seal), then label and store in a cool, dark place. If jars don’t seal, refrigerate. Makes about 6 cups.


AS CANADIAN AS BUMBLEBERRY PIE

This ruby red cocktail, created by bartender Kade Russell at Clive’s Classic Lounge, tastes like berry pie in a glass, thanks to a touch of Frangelico liqueur.


1 oz (30mL) Wayward Distilling Raspberry Gin

1 oz (30mL) Stillhead Distillery Blackberry Gin

2 spoonfuls of mixed berries

1/2 oz (15mL) Frangelico

1 oz (30mL) lemon juice


Glass - Cocktail Glass

Method - Shake all ingredients with ice and double strain

Garnish - blueberry rolled in sugar


BLACKBERRY CHEESECAKE IN A JAR

A small canning jar is the perfect vessel for these easy desserts that can be made ahead and refrigerated. Toss whole berries with a spoonful of sugar or a splash of blackberry dessert wine for added flavour.


8-10 1/2-cup canning jars or small glasses


2 cups whipping cream

½ cup icing sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup graham cracker or ginger cookie crumbs

3 tablespoons melted butter

1-2 cups fresh blackberries


In a bowl, whip the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla until stiff. Chill.

In another bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream, one-third at a time, to lighten the cheesecake mixture.

Combine the cookie crumbs with the melted butter.

Place a spoonful of cheesecake mixture in the bottom of each jar or glass. Top with some cookie crumbs, more cheesecake and a layer of fruit (repeat layers if using taller glasses, ending with fruit.)

Top the jars with lids (or cover glasses with plastic wrap) and refrigerate up to 24 hours before serving.

Makes 8-10 servings.


Pick wild Himalayan blackberries across the Pacific Northwest in late summer - free for the foraging!