What's in Season

Pick Up a Basket of Early Summer Blackberries

Cobble together a tempting dessert with early summer blackberries

photo: John Burgoyne

When an ingredient got left out of a blackberry dessert
while a private party of seventy-five sweet-toothed Southerners sat waiting in the dining room, Kathleen Blake was left with unrisen shortcakes and a kitchen conundrum worthy of Food Network’s Chopped. “I just said, ‘Okay, we are going to take the components apart and use the pastry as a crumble,’” she says. “It was so popular that we made the Remodeled Cobbler a regular dessert.” The owner and chef at the Rusty Spoon in Orlando, Florida, Blake says that blackberries—which peak in the South in late spring and early summer—are the ultimate dessert berry. “There’s a pop of tart right out of the gate, and the finish is soft and juicy,” she says, “and they have more texture than you get with other berries.” Some of the most common blackberry varieties were developed in Texas and Arkansas, and you can find fresh locally grown pints at farmers’ markets across the South. When selecting a batch, check the bottom of the cardboard vessel and make sure it’s dry—dampness is a sign, according to Blake, that the berries are already breaking down. At home, brush them off (rinsing only immediately before use), and consume any that are soft right away (or freeze them). Place the firmer berries in a single layer in an uncovered dish lined with a paper towel to absorb any moisture, and store in the refrigerator for up to three days. For a summer garden party, muddle the berries into cocktails, or pickle them in champagne vinegar for a fun addition to a cheese board. Blackberries work in everything from desserts to salads to savory mains, so don’t be afraid to improvise—as Blake can attest, you just might end up with your favorite dish yet.

The Chef Recommends: Remodeled Cobbler

“The tartness of the blackberry and the richness of the curd work so well together. And who doesn’t love a little chocolate
in everything?” 
—Kathleen Blake, the Rusty Spoon, Orlando, Florida

John Burgoyne

Mix 1 lb. blackberries with 2 tbsp. sugar; rest 30 minutes. Whisk 1 cup flour with ¼ cup sugar, 1⁄3 tsp. baking powder, and ½ tsp. kosher salt. Work 4 tbsp. cold cubed butter into dry mixture. Add 2 tbsp. each buttermilk and heavy cream.
Mix until dough is “raggy.” Fold in ¼ cup dark chocolate chips. Crumble onto parchment paper–lined pan. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp. sugar, then bake at 350ºF for 10 minutes. Fold 1½ cups lemon curd into 1½ cups whipped cream. Dollop into bowls; top with berries and crumbles. Garnish with powdered sugar and plain whipped cream.