lots of blueberries

Summer is nearly over, but it feels like it’s just beginning for me. I have one day left at a job that sucks every ounce of motivation and creativity out of me and now I just feel like a kid stuck in class on the last day of school. There’s only three weeks until me and my newly betrothed leave to Kyrgyzstan, most of which will be spent packing and wrapping up my stateside life (yet again), but I’m bursting with excitement at all the free time and pure doses of sunshine that I’ll be soaking in while indulging myself in baking, crafting, and photography (natural light!).

Although, despite being trapped in a cubicle, I have managed to take advantage of summer in the form of all the fresh blueberries I can handle.

And as I discovered, I can handle a lot of blueberries. I had already made two batches of giant blueberry muffins when Farrell brought home a container of blueberries that he bought at the shady corner bodega for 99 cents. Concerned that the cheap, shady berries wouldn’t last long, they became curd.

Silky, delicious blueberry curd with that saturated purple color. Of course, my fingertips were completely stained after dipping my fingers in the finished batch so many times. It reminded me of kindergarten, when we got to smash blueberries to use for “natural tie-dye” and we all learned that sadly, blueberries aren’t the electric artificial blue tone we’d imagined they would be.

Nevertheless, this stuff is just too good. It’s good on toast, stirred into yogurt, or plopped on fresh blueberry scones.

Not too long after making the curd, blueberries were back in my fridge again. In the post-wedding chaos we had several people crashing on our couch/floor; cooking meals for the hosts turned into currency for rent. Blueberries were purchased in exchange for a few nights on an air mattress, and those precious orbs were folded into scone batter for a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast.

(No pictures of those, which is unfortunate, because they were perfect. The recipe is below though.)

But still more berries remained. I had to brainstorm what to do with those stray dregs at the bottom of the carton.

That’s when I realized I hadn’t baked anything with chocolate lately. A travesty that had to be solved.

Also a travesty? Processed carbs, apparently. My new husband reminded me after my fourth scone that white flour isn’t that healthy, even when mixed with antioxidant-filled blueberries.

Well, okay. The next project was going to involve blueberries, chocolate, and whole wheat flour.

Turns out, this might just be my greatest experiment to date. There’s no trace of toughness from the whole wheat flour, only a perfect balance of fudge and cake brownie. Deeply chocolatey, not too sweet, with a subtle blueberry flavor that buzzes on your tongue. So good. Soooo good. This chocolate and blueberry combination will have to be explored more in the future.

So if you happen to find yourself with a lot of blueberries, here are three recipes for you to take advantage of them, shady or otherwise.

– Blueberry Curd – adapted from Tigress in a Jam
1 pint of fresh blueberries
zest and juice of one large lemon
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup granulated sugar (this can be adjusted according to your taste)
2 eggs, beaten

– Heat blueberries, lemon juice and zest in a saucepan over medium heat for about ten minutes, until berries are broken down.
– Remove berries from heat and strain all the juice and mushed bits into a double boiler (or, just a regular bowl to be set over a pot of simmering water).
– Set up the double boiler over simmering water. Add sugar to the berry juice and stir to dissolve. Stir in butter cubes.
– Whisk vigorously as you slowly add the beaten eggs (to prevent scrambling them). Continue to cook the curd until it thickens, about fifteen more minutes.
– Curd can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer up to six months.

– Blueberry scones – adapted from Orangette
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 large egg

– Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
– Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add butter cubes and rub into flour, using a pastry cutter, fork, or your fingers.
– Add blueberries to flour+butter mixture.
– In a separate bowl, whisk together half-and-half and the egg. Add to flour+butter+blueberry mixture (reserving about one tbsp of liquid) and fold together to form a shaggy dough. Knead a couple times, only to bring the dough together into a more cohesive ball.
– Form the dough into a long rectangle and cut into eight triangles. Brush with remaining half-and-half and sprinkle with a bit of granulated sugar (optional).
– Bake on a baking sheet or silpat for 12-14 minutes, until the bottoms are browned and the tops are lightly browned.

– Blueberry whole wheat brownies – adapted from two recipes found here and here
1 cup blueberries, cooked down
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 9 baking dish with butter or canola oil.
– Cook berries over medium heat for about ten minutes to break down and reduce berries to a slightly thicker (not syrupy) juice. Set aside and cool.
– Either on the stovetop or in the microwave, slowly heat butter and sugar until most of the sugar is dissolved. Cool.
– Add blueberry mush to butter+sugar and whisk to combine.
– Add cocoa powder, baking powder, and vanilla extract and stir well. Add eggs one at a time and stir well to completely incorporate.
– Add whole wheat flour and mix until just combined, but very few lumps (if any) remain.
– Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is puffed and split.