My Motto

May the muffin rise to greet you, may your friends be always at your door, and until we meet again, warm a single-malt in the palm of your hand and make something homemade for someone you love.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rustic Blackberry Tarts

"O, blackberry tart, with berries as big as your thumb, purple and black, and thick with juice, and a crust to endear them that will go to cream in your mouth, and both passing down with such a taste that will make you close your eyes and wish you might live forever in the wideness of that rich moment."
~Richard Llewllyn (How Green Was My Valley)
This month I am celebrating my Irish heritage and posting only Irish recipes.  This one goes back to my childhood personally, but hundreds of years historically.  
Blackberry brambles are one of the most familiar bushes in Ireland. They have been growing in Europe for thousands of years.  Their long rambling stems arch over walls and clamber along hedgerows, armed with prickly thorns that take root wherever they touch the ground. Their prevalence allows for thrift, so it is no wonder they are popular in jams, chutney, compote, crumbles, pies and tarts!  Very often they are mixed with apples, although I prefer them on their own.  These little tarts left a taste imprint I've never forgotten.  Simple and wholesome.  I also make very pretty refined tarts with a cheesecake-like filling and perfect glazed berries standing like soldiers around the edge.  They make a pretty picture, but it is these humble free-form tarts of my childhood that I crave.   

My grandmother Murphy had a nice grove of blackberry bushes where we would pick on an August day.  They were so prolific, we could fill baskets in no time.  She warned me that we need to sing while we pick to scare the snakes away!  
This was she and I after a strawberry picking outing, but you get the picture.  Only women of a certain generation will remember that Dorothy Hammil haircut I'm sporting.
Her blackberry jelly was my favorite.   For trips to the beach, she would always pack peanut butter and blackberry jelly sandwiches.  They tasted like heaven to me.  I have yet to find a source for a good blackberry jelly or jam that tastes like hers.  I'll be putting some up this summer.
The tarts I made at home with my mother.  Little free-form tarts because the wild berries I would pick in the neighborhood would only yield one or two cups at a time.  Never enough for a whole pie, but you could get a couple delicious tarts out of them.  You can use little tart shells or ramekins, but I prefer the free form shallow tart shell.  You could also double the recipe and make a straight-up, two-crust blackberry pie, or double the filling only and make a one-crust blackberry pie.  For an additional twist, add crumble topping to it!  If you make the free form little tarts, don't get hung up on the looks, they just need to stand up enough on the sides to hold the filling in.
Be sure to leave a comment and receive an entry in the drawing for the lovely cookbook, The Country Cooking of IRELAND!
See previous post (Easy Irish Soda Bread) for details.

Rustic Blackberry Tarts

Blackberry Filling:
2 1/2 cups fresh blackberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour.
1 tablespoon butter, divided
2 tablespoons blackberry or raspberry jam, heated until it melts

Flaky Pastry:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold Crisco
6 tablespoons ice water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  
In a medium bowl, toss blackberries with sugar and flour.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar and salt.  Add Crisco, and with a pastry blender or two knives, cut in Crisco until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.  Sprinkle on ice water, one tablespoon at a time while tossing mixture up from the bottom with a fork.  With your hands, gather the dough to form a ball.  Place on a lightly floured cutting board and press into a square about 5x5 inches.  Sprinkle with flour, then roll into 14x14 (approx) square.  Cut down the middle horizontally and vertically to create 4 squares of dough.  Place a square on a cookie sheet.  Using a half cup measure, scoop a slightly heaping measure of berries, scooping down to the bottom of the bowl to make sure you get enough sugar and flour.  Carefully mound in the center of dough square.  Bring together two corners (as if to fold a sheet) and pinch from the fold (resting on the cookie sheet) halfway up, folding over and pinching again, so it holds.  Let the little point flop over informally.  Repeat for the remaining three corners.
Dot tarts with butter.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until filling is bubbling.  If crust starts to brown too quickly, lay a piece of aluminum foil  lightly over the tarts.  When they're done, brush with melted jam.  Serve warm with whipped cream, clotted cream or vanilla ice cream!


I'm Just Saying said...

Great story and looks amazing.. As soon as I get some blackberries.. will be whipping this up pronto!

Kathy said...

Ohhh . . . I love blackberries! So neat the picture of you and your grandmother. I love to pick blackberries when they are available and your recipe looks delicious!

koren said...

I really like Blackberries can't wait to try these tarts. Thanks so much for all your great recipes

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@I'm Just Saying: Thank you, that's great...let me know how they turn out!
@Kathy: thanks so much. I didn't pick these...they're probably from South America, but they still tasted great!
@KOREN!!! So happy to see you here! I'm glad you like the recipes. Let me know if you try any! xo

Cookette said...

These lok great. I love that they are free-form. It really gives them a charming, rustic look. These would be great with some vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream! Yum!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Thanks Melissa, I agree, charming and unpretentious :-) I had mine with whipped was great!

Michael said...

Looks like another hit that I will have to try. I like to cook but can't compete.

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@Michael: Only seems that way because I don't post all the bombs, haha!

Fayanne said...

Delicious! I grew upnin East Tenneessee, and their are berry brambles all over! We always picked them when we were little- not too many made it home to cook with! The cookbook looks great!

Di said...

Laughing at the "women of a certain generation" line. One of my younger sisters (the one right after me) had that exact haircut. (I had long hair.) =) My younger kiddo, Gillian, loves everything blackberry--except the whole berries. Not sure if it's the seeds she doesn't like, or what. I wonder if she'd go for these.

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@Fayanne: Yes, it's exciting when it's blackberry picking season, isn't it?!
@Di: Always happy to amuse :-).

Kayte said...

One of my most favorite pictures of my grandmother O'Brien was of her in a blackberry patch gingerly picking blackberries with a little lard bucket and smiling her most beautiful smile. Thanks for reminding me of that...these blackberry tarts look so delicious!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

@Kayte: Thank you so much, and I'm very happy to tickle back a treasured memory :-)

Gaetano said...

Pic with Gram is fantastic!

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...


Kelly Mahan said...

My blackberry (and red raspberry) canes are extremely prolific! I will be using this tart recipe--now that my four kids are grown, they don't go through jam as they once did, so I still have some jars of wild grape jam from last fall in the cellar, which means making lots of blackberry jam is not an option. Of course, if you don't let it set right, you can get a fantastic blackberry ice-cream topping instead...

Margaret Murphy Tripp said...

Lucky you! Blackberries are my favorite, and I'm sure the loose jam would be wonderful on ice cream....mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Sally Heilman said...

The tarts look wonderful-I cannot wait to try them. My grandmother was very Irish, and we still use her pie crust recipe, which is identical to the one you posted here-method and all. We always used the scraps after making pies to make little tarts with butter and cinnamon sugar. This will be a nice little twist on a childhood memory of mine. Thanks for posting this!

Anonymous said...

The tarts look heavenly-I cannot wait to try them. My grandmother was very Irish, and her pie crust recipe is identical to the one you posted here-method and all. We always used the scraps of dough after making pies to make little tarts with butter and cinnamon sugar-your recipe will be a sweet twist on a lovely childhood memory of mine. Thanks so much for posting this.