the blackberry blossom

There is a fence in my new neighborhood covered in blackberry vines. By now the blossoms there will never bear fruit. Oh England, imagine this: warm blackberries, picked from the bush by the side of the road with the sun beating down.
This is kind of a west coast thing. Himalayan blackberries may not be native, but they sure are prolific and I always eat my fair share. While I was in home Bellevue in early September, my dad and I enthusiastically picked a few pints of blackberries while we were out walking. It was a dry August this year, so they tasted especially seedy and a bit dry. What to do?? A regular tart wouldn’t do, but I had enough for a whole pie.
Enter: Black-Bottomed Blackberry Pie.
Here is a dessert in summer’s honor. Now, the one problem with this recipe is that it was so good I didn’t manage to take a photo either time it got made. It came together quickly- I knew I wanted to cook the blackberries into a jammy consistency and a quick search online identified the magical blackberry/chocolate combo. As soon as I put that together, I was imagining a catchy name for my pie. I considered “Black-Bottomed-Blackberry Brulee” but it tasted good enough without needing any more sugar. There is potential too for a Black-Bottomed Blackberry Bar, but I really liked the thicky-gooey-intensity of the pie filling and it would take some tweaking to hold that in bar form.
1 cup all-purpose baking flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp white sugar
big pinch salt
1 medium egg beaten + 1 cube ice + 1 tsp white vinegar
4 oz. baking chocolate (or any chocolate)
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder (…or ovaltine)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Rub the butter into the flour, then stir in the sugar and salt. A pinch of the dough should taste like raw shortbread…¬† With a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the cold egg mixture to form a workable dough. Plop it all out on the counter and work it into a flat pat. If it’s still summer, you may need to pop it into the fridge/freezer for a few minutes before rolling it out! Roll it out thickly and form it into a deep-dish pie pan, trimming and crimping the edges. Brush the crust with the remaining egg mixture so it will color in the oven. Bake the pie shell, pricking the bottom of the pan and using pie weights so that the crust won’t deform.
…and if you have any leftover dough, roll it out again and make seasonally appropriate pastry toppings for the filling! Bake them on a tray in the warm oven. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave, or if you’re classy, in a double boiler. Stir in the cocoa¬† and then use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate on the pie crust. This is your black bottom.
4-8 cups blackberries (fresh, or frozen)
1/2 cup sugar (or any sweetener, as much or as little as you please)
4 sheets gelatin (or 1 packet jam pectin)
3T corn starch
dash salt
Cook the berries over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot. If you’re using fresh berries, you may need to add some water. Add the sugar and stir gently, because it is particularly nice later if the berries are whole. This mixture will naturally form a jammy texture, so there is no need to let the berries boil. When the pot is steaming hot, measure in the corn starch. Soak your gelatin sheets/open the pectin packet and add it to the berries. Stir it up until the gelatin has melted, then take the filling off the heat. If you’re squeamish about hot pots full of berries, wait til it cools to assemble the pie. All you need to do is pour the filling into the crust and decorate with your pastry toppings. Refrigerate for 2+ hours, serving when firm. Whipping cream is not even necessary, but that never stopped anyone.
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