Wondrous Blackberry

Blackberries.  Oh my.  What a succulent, powerful little fruit!  The bush out behind my house is loaded with flowers still and won’t be ready for picking for a while, but luckily, you can find blackberries in the produce section all year long.  I don’t have much room this week so I tried keeping it short.  I have written of blackberries before so I will just highlight some benefits.

The blackberry is technically not just one fruit. Each blackberry consists of 80-100 small drupelets that are arranged in a circular fashion, akin to a miniature grape bunch. Each berry has a juicy pulp, a single tiny seed, and measures three to four centimeters long.  So each piece we consider a berry is actually many grouped into one. Those seeds though…

Hailed as a “superfood,” blackberries are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. The mineral wealth of blackberries includes calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc. They are also a good source of amino acids and essential dietary fiber, and they do not contain any harmful cholesterol.

One of the most widely researched health benefits of blackberries is their ability to work as a cancer-fighting food. Blackberries are full of rich antioxidants, including polyphenols, a class of antioxidants known for their cancer-fighting abilities.  Because they are high in antioxidants, blackberries are a great fruit to help protect your body from oxidative stress and chronic inflammation responsible for a massive number of diseases.  Inflammation is the root of most diseases and illnesses the body has to fight.  Blackberries naturally cause a reduction in inflammation and allow your body’s processes to happen as they should, rather than on overdrive.  The incredible nutrient load of the small blackberry makes it a superfood possibly able to increase memory function.  The incredible nutrient load of the small blackberry makes it a superfood possibly able to increase memory function.  Eating blackberries may also help kill oral bacteria that cause illness.

Blackberries have a sweet flavor that is optimal when perfectly ripe.  If picked too soon, they are tart.  However the seeds are not easy to contend with for a lot of people.  This week, I used seedless blackberry jam in all recipes to get the flavor while skipping the seeds!  Pick up some jam this weekend and meet me in the kitchen for delicious recipes using this super fruit. 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

2 cups peanut butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 tsps. baking soda

2 tsps. pure vanilla extract

Pinch salt

1 cup blackberry jam

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper.  Beat peanut butter and sugar in medium bowl until smooth.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix to combine well.  Add remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated. Press dough into bottom of prepared pan and up the sides just a little to form small lip.  Bake 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and spread jam over top of cookie. Bake another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes in pan.  Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on wire rack.

 

Blackberry Coffee Cake

¾ cup real unsalted butter, softened

2 tsps. pure vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

Pinch of salt

cup brown sugar

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup blackberry jam

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9" round pan with parchment paper. Mix sugar, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each use. Add sour cream and mix well. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix well to incorporate. Sprinkle parchment paper with half of brown sugar and cinnamon.  This is top of cake when done. Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Smooth batter with rubber spatula or spoon. Top with jam and sprinkle with remaining brown sugar and cinnamon.  Pour remaining batter on top. I like to sprinkle the bottom with cinnamon sugar, but this is not necessary.  Bake 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan 10 minutes.  Remove from pan to wire rack and allow to cool completely. Flip cake upside down onto serving platter.  Remove parchment paper and serve.

Recipe adapted from justapinch.com.

 

Easy Blackberry Ice Cream

3Tbsps. seedless blackberry jam

3 Tbsps. sugar

1 cup heavy cream

Place jam in small microwave safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds.  Add sugar and stir well.  If it needs further melting microwave 15 seconds at a time until melted.  Let cool.  Add heavy cream and pour into freezer safe container.  Freeze one hour.  Remove from freezer and stir, scraping sides well.  Return to freezer. Repeat every hour until frozen.

Note: This is a very small batchice cream.  Feel free to double it for more. If you aren’t fond of super creamy, cut the heavy cream with equal amounts of milk or use half and half instead.

 

Blackberry Lemonade Cheesecake

72 Nilla wafers

cup butter, melted

2 8oz pkgs. cream cheese, softened

14oz can sweetened condensed milk

2 tsps. lemon extract

¾ cup lemon juice

8oz container Cool Whip, thawed

¼ cup seedless blackberry jam, melted and cooled

Crush wafers with rolling pin or in food processor until crumbs.  Add butter and mix well. If it seems too dry, add a little more butter. Press cookie mixture onto bottom and sides of 9" pie pan.  Beat cream cheese and milk until smooth.  Add lemon juice and extract and beat until well mixed.  Fold in Cool Whip until incorporated. Pour over crust in pie pan.  Pour blackberry jam over cream cheese mixture in circular pattern.  Use knife gently to create swirls being careful not to go so far into pie you touch crust.