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Berry Nirvana

August 23, 2010

I anticipate blackberry season as much as I do Christmas. Free, delicious berries just waiting to be picked around every corner?! (Ok, maybe not every corner. There are definitely some blackberry bushes I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.) Over in my mom’s neck of the woods, there are hordes of bushes and each time I called her I’d ask for the berry report. When the weather brought that intense heat last week, I knew the berries would be soon to follow. The recipe hunting began.

Then I had an idea. A spark of genius, really. We were making tarts in my Pastry class, lemon curd to be specific, and I thought to myself, I can do better than this! What if I made blackberry curd tarts?! And then the wheels started turning. What would go well with creamy, tart blackberry curd? What would send this tart over the edge? Aha! A crunchy, buttery cornmeal crust!

Ali and I went berry-picking that following Saturday and although the season was yet to reach its peak, we returned with several quarts of dark, delicious blackberries just waiting to be baked.

The resulting tarts were divine. Little bits of heaven, really. When I shared with one of my classmates, her eyes rolled into the back of her head as she asked for a minute alone with her tart. Yep, this one’s a winner.


© Copyright 2010 Carly Sullivan, Tart to Heart

Blackberry Curd

Yield: ~4 cups, enough for two standard tarts


  • 4 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp butter


  1. Puree the blackberries and water in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain through a mesh sieve, using a rubber spatula to press all of the juice through, leaving the seeds behind. This should yield about 2 cups of juice.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the juice with the remaining ingredients except the butter and whisk together.
  3. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking another few minutes until the mixture is thick as pudding.
  4. Pour into a bowl, let cool slightly, then cover with plastic wrap so the plastic is pressed against the surface of the curd. This will prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator.

This curd would also be great on scones, crumpets, between layers of cake, or just eaten be the spoonful!

Cornmeal Tart Crust

Yield: two 9-inch tarts, six 4-inch tarts, or 18 mini tartlets


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten


  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt and pulse to combine.
  2. Add the pieces of cold butter and pulse until the dough just begins to clump together. Add the eggs and pulse until the dough just comes together.
  3. Remove the dough to a bowl and form into a ball. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using.
  4. This dough can either be rolled out between wax paper or can be pressed into a tart pan with your fingertips. I find it’s easier to roll out for a large tart and easier to press in for the mini tartlets. Either way, make sure not to leave any air pockets between the dough and the pan. Poke holes along the bottom with a fork for steam to escape.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Cornmeal tends to darken more than regular pie crust, so don’t be alarmed if it gets quite brown on the edges. If you start to worry, just place a piece of aluminum foil over the top.
  6. Cool completely before filling with blackberry curd.

Yum! Stay tuned for more blackberry treats!


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