This post is about 3 weeks late. These beautiful berries hit the markets weeks ago. And I’m sorry, I really am. There were just so many other things I wanted to tell you about! I just got so excited and forgot about this humble and delicious dish that we make often at our house. The thing is, I feel like everyone has their own thoughts about what the makes the perfect berry cobbler, and so I’m always hesitant to share my favorite version.
But here’s what I think a berry cobbler should be: crispy on the top and soft and warm through the middle, not too sweet, and served with ice cream.
Naturally it was the first thing I thought to make when I saw the first of the yangmei appear in the local fruit markets. Yangmei are known by many names. Here, many of the foreigners call them waxberries, or Chinese bayberries. It’s official name is a Myrica rubra, though that sounds so cold and official. At their best, these little berries are sweet yet a little tart, very juicy, and bright crimson. They have a pit in the center, so don’t get so wrapped up in their flavor that you pop several in your mouth at once and come crunching down hard on a large seed, much like a cherry’s.
Where raspberries and blackberries have round bubbles surrounding seeds, this berry is different. It’s seeds are arranged in long spindly strings of juice, that can be peeled one off of another. But who has the patience for something like that, when these little berries are so delicious!
Careful, the shopkeeper warns me, you need to eat the yangmei within a day or two, or else they start to taste like liquor. And in fact, she’s right. They do take on a fermented taste if they are not used quickly. It is actually one of the traditional uses for this little berry. They are soaked in baijiu, a very strong Chinese rice wine, or fermented and made into an alcoholic fruit juice.
I tend to stay away from baijiu and Chinese liquors in general – they’re too strong for this lightweight. But, the fruits themselves are wonderfully flavorful, and if you have an opportunity to try them, don’t miss out.
This cobbler recipe, my absolute favorite, highlights the flavors of the berry nicely. The cobbler comes with one more added benefit though: it will be long gone before the berries get the chance to ferment. The recipe is served here with some Macadamia Nut ice cream, which added a nice contrast to the tartness of the berries.
Recipe from Debbie Hamrick
1 cup salted butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2-3 cups assorted berries (if using waxberries, cut the fruit off of the pit first)
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a pie dish, toss the berries with the butter so that each berry has a nice coating. Don’t worry if the butter begins to pool at the bottom. It will create the nice crust you’re looking for.
2. Lightly fork together the flour, sugar, and milk. Do not whisk, and do not overmix. You want a lumpy and uneven batter. I promise.
3. Pour the lumpy batter over top the berries, and bake until top is golden brown, and the berries have released their juices and are bubbling up to the crust. In a 9 inch pie dish, this took me about 25-30 minutes.
4. Serve by scooping out portions into smaller bowls and topping with ice cream.