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An Exotic Valentine's Day with Vanilla Cognac Laced Blackberry Nirvana

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When I am walking through any market up here in the Sierra range and I see fresh blackberries, I begin to drool like a teething baby (and no, it's not a pretty sight). So the other day I picked up a few baskets of these dark jewels of sweetness and decided to try something different. Everyone has had blackberry cobbler, blackberry pie and the always wonderful blackberry slump (a native African dish, I might add) but the one thing you have never had is Blackberry Nirvana with Vanilla Cognac. "And how, Chef Larry do you know this," you are asking yourself. Because I created this dish!

A word to the wise regarging cooking with any type of alcohol. It is NOT true that alcohol burns off during the cooking process. A few years ago when I was researching One World, One Table, I sent a few cooked dishes which included alcohol in the ingredients to a lab and the results were conclusive -- alcohol was still in the dishes. Fact is, less than a few percent of the alcohol remains but for people with an alcohol illness, this few percent can be harmful so always be cautious of this fact when using alcohol in any dish you prepare.

While you are spooning the batter over the berries, you are going to think you made a mistake because it will look like you don't have enough batter. You do! There is going to be a chemical reaction with the baking powder, salt and cognac which is going to lighten the batter (making it less dense) and it will spread over the fruit and puff up due to the heat of the oven.

Ingredients for Vanilla Cognac Laced Blackberry Nirvana :

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Meukow vanilla cognac (yes, it is expensive)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 12 oz. blackberries (this is usually 2 baskets)

Steps:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set the bowl aside.
  3. In a medium bowl beat together 1/2 cup butter and the white sugar until well combined. Beat in the eggs until smooth. Stir in the vanilla cognac.
  4. Into the cognac mixture, stir in the dry ingredients to make a batter.
  5. In a large saute pan or skillet, melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar and cook until the brown sugar dissolves and begins to simmer (bubble). Add the blackberries, stir to coat, and cook 2 minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat. Spoon the batter over the blackberries.
  7. Place in the oven and bake 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan 10 minutes.
  9. Being very careful, invert the pan (turn it over) onto a serving platter bigger than the pan (yes, you want the bottom to be the top). Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

The internationally bestselling cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals," is now in it's third printing and available worldwide in both hard cover and e-book versions. The paperback version will be released March 4, 2014.

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