Dessert Heaven: Baking with Blueberries

Blueberry torteWe've just returned from our annual Purcell Sisters Blueberry-Picking Extravaganza at our uncle's idyllic property in New Hampshire. Remember Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, who blew up into a giant blueberry? Not quite us, but close.

We had blueberry pancakes for breakfast, ate handfuls of fresh-off-the-bush berries while we picked, tossed frozen blueberries into our champagne to keep it cold during late-afternoon cocktail hour and, best of all, feasted on this amazing blueberry torte for dessert each night. We didn't have to summon the Oompa Loompas to roll us to the juicing room to be squeezed, but there was a fair amount of belt-loosening and food coma-induced napping going on.

Originally, this old family recipe was baked in a springform pan. To dress it up for dinner parties, we make "personal tortes" by spooning the batter into ramekins. Looks fancy, but is secretly a breeze to make. Serve vanilla ice cream alongside.

It's your golden ticket to hosting fame.

Easier-Than-Pie Blueberry Tortes

Ingredients for hot fudge sauce
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups blueberries*
juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (use more or less to taste)

Make your own hot fudge sauce
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, beat. Add dry ingredients, mix well. Spoon batter into eight 3-inch ramekins—if your ramekins are a different size, don't worry, just fill them so that the batter goes about halfway up the sides. (We butter and sugar the ramekins because sometimes we like to turn the tortes out onto plates. If you want to serve them in the crockery, this step isn't necessary.)

Place the blueberries in a bowl, squeeze the lemon juice over them and toss with the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the berries over the tops of each torte so they cover the surface area but aren't mounded.

Bake about 45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out with crumbs but no liquid. Enjoy!

*If you're finding wonderfully sweet and juicy blueberries at your grocery or farmer's market now while they're in season, stock up and freeze some, and you can make blueberry tortes all winter. No need to thaw the berries, just toss them with the juice, sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle them on.

Lauren and Anne
The Purcell Sisters

The Purcell Sisters