Summer Foraging Recipe: Elderberry-Blueberry Jam with Chia Seeds

In the woodland valleys of Central California, Elderflower trees have been in bloom all spring with their prolific, lacy white blossoms.  I've enjoyed making Elderflower syrup, candied elderflowers and sweet Elderflower Tempura.  A few days ago, I noticed that some of the trees are starting to bear fruit -- diminutive, tart little berries, deep purplish-blue growing in heavy clusters.  

Inspired by a love of biscuits and jam, foraging, and adapted from a recipe from Simply Beyond Herbs, I whipped up a simple and delicious jam made from the foraged Elderberries, fresh blueberries and using chia seeds for a perfect jammy consistency.

Enjoy and Happy Foraging!
PrintWith ImageWithout Image Elderberry-Blueberry Chia JamYield: One half-pint jarAuthor: Jenn Erickson Prep time: 10 MCook time: 10 MTotal time: 20 M An easy and delicious sweet-tart jam to make from foraged Elderberries. Ingredients:1 1/2 cups elderberries, rinsedPinch of salt1 cup blueberries, rinsed2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds1/2 Tabl…


I was nudged out of retirement this week for an opportunity to make some of my favorite little chocolate towers (I call them Parapets) for a very special birthday celebration. The inspiration for the flavor was the classic Italian dessert Tiramisu. 


I started with a little round of lady-finger cake, soaked with Italian espresso; banded it in a collar of white chocolate with a cocoa butter transfer in a black floral scroll pattern (making me nostalgic for my mom's old calico dishes from when I was a child). Once the chocolate had set, the "Parapets" were filled with a dark rum laced mascarpone cream, and topped with a light dusting of cocoa powder. To commemorate the special occasion, I made chocolate letters that sat atop each Parapet to spell out "HAPPY BIRTHDAY DOTTIE". I made some extras so I could share the love around the neighborhood, and am posting a modified version of my recipes below so that you can make some for your friends and family too!


  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 16 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (for adding to yolks)
  • ¾ cup cold heavy cream, for whipping

1 lady finger cake, cut into 1x1 squares (recipe below)
cocoa powder for dusting
whipped cream, to top the parfaits

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed until just combined. 

Add sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once or twice. 

Add 1/3 cup cream to yolks and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape bowl. 

Set bowl with yolks over medium saucepan containing 1 inch gently simmering water; cook, constantly scraping along bottom and sides of bowl with heatproof rubber spatula, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 4 to 7 minutes. 

Remove from heat and stir vigorously to cool slightly, then set aside to cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Whisk in rum until combined. 

Transfer mixture to the bowl of a large food processor, add mascarpone and cream cheese, and pulse until smooth. Transfer mixture to large bowl set aside.
In now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean bowl), beat the 3/4 cup cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer. 

Using rubber spatula, fold one-third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Refrigerate for at least an hour. 

IN A GLASS ICE CREAM DISH OR GOBLET, start with a layer of mascarpone cream. Next, make a generous layer of cake. Sprinkle approx. 1 TB espresso or dark coffee over the cake. Add another layer of mascarpone cream. Add a dollop of whipped cream and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, dust with cocoa powder. A chocolate covered espresso bean makes a nice little garnish on top.


1 Box white cake mix
1 small box vanilla instant pudding mix
4 large eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 cup water 
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 12 x9 baking pan and dust with flour to prevent sticking. Mix all ingredients on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour batter into pan and bake for approx. 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool and cut into 1x1 cubes. 

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