Berry good ideas keep coming

Cynthia Stone
Published on August 25, 2012

Every year I think there’s no way I can come up with new berry recipes. Then a container comes my way and I can’t stay out of the kitchen.

Chilled Partridgeberry Cheesecake Dessert Squares

Instead of serving the partridgeberry jam on top of your cheesecake, how does folding it in sound? It works in this recipe because the cheesecake is set with gelatin instead of baking.

Low-fat cream cheese and skim milk work fine here. You can also use up to half sugar substitute in the cream cheese centre, but choose a variety that compares one-to-one with sugar in terms of volume. You can reduce the sugar in the crust as well, but you need at least half the suggested amount to get the right texture. As for the partridgeberries, I enjoy the sharp bite, but it’s your choice. Start with the amount of sugar I suggest, taste, and add more if you wish.

Crumb Crust:

2 cups graham wafer crumbs

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg (freshly ground if possible)

1/3 cup melted butter or margarine

Partridgeberry Jam:

3 cups partridgeberries, frozen or fresh

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp. water

Cream Cheese Filling:

2 envelopes plain gelatin

1 cup milk

2 8-oz. packages soft cream cheese

1 cup sugar

4 tsp. best quality vanilla

Stir together graham crumbs, brown sugar and nutmeg. Add melted butter and stir until crumb mixture is evenly coated. Press into a greased 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Bake at 325 F for 6 minutes; cool completely.

For the jam, bring partridgeberries, sugar and water to a boil in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Simmer about 5 minutes — it will look quite juicy but don’t worry because the mixture firms up as it cools. Cool to lukewarm, stirring once or twice to prevent a skin from forming on the surface.

For the filling, stir gelatin into milk and set aside 5 minutes so the gelatin softens. Microwave on medium about 45 seconds or until gelatin completely dissolves — check every few seconds because the time it takes depends on your microwave. If you are at all nervous about this step, stir the mixture in a small pot over low heat. Cool to lukewarm. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Beat in gelatin and milk mixture. Spoon cooled partridgeberry filling on top of cream cheese mixture. Using a knife, cut through the batter a few times. You are looking for large crimson streaks, not a homogenous mixture. Pour over cooled crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours before cutting into generous squares.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

You need a basic coffee cake recipe in your repertoire and this could be it. The method is traditional and the flavours classic, but I have updated the profile with the addition of cardamom. Of course, you can leave it out, but it has a wonderful affinity for blueberries.

If you don’t have cake flour on hand, you can substitute 2 cups (total amount) of all-purpose flour but you won’t get the same delicate crumb.

1 cup soft unsalted butter (no other)

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream (full-fat only)

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest

2-1/2 cups cake-and-pastry flour

1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Cream butter and sugar until light in colour and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk or sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom and salt. Add to liquid ingredients, stirring gently until completely incorporated and smooth but don’t overmix. Spoon half the batter into a greased and floured 10-inch bundt pan. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle half this mixture on top of the batter. Cover evenly with blueberries, then spoon on remaining batter. Smooth the surface and sprinkle remaining brown sugar and cinnamon mixture over the top. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour, or until a tester in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the bundt pan for 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Partridgeberry Coconut Muffins

You’ve heard the old saying, what grows together goes together, but this recipe proves it’s not always so, because once you introduce tropical coconut to northern partridgeberries, there’s no going back.

These are rich enough to serve as dessert, but I like them for breakfast with coffee and maybe a small piece of cheddar cheese and some fresh fruit.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup fine unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup fresh or frozen partridgeberries

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk together coconut, brown sugar, vanilla, melted butter, eggs and buttermilk until smooth. Add coconut mixture all at once to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.

Fold in partridgeberries and divide among 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups. If you like you can sprinkle a little more coconut on top of each muffin, and maybe a pinch of turbinado sugar, as well. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 to 18 minutes or until a tester in the middle comes out clean.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL, A1E 4N1.