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…

Hatched from Scratch: Mini Coconut Nest Cupcakes

coconut lemon mini bird nest cupcakes

What comes to mind when you think of springtime?
For me it's robins' egg blue,
Easter baskets,
spotted newborn deer on their wobbly little legs, 
flowering trees and the sweet songs of birds
nesting amid their blossoming branches.  

It's the latter that inspired these dainty little cupcakes.

coconut lemon mini bird nest cupcakes 

Atop a tender mini lemon cupcake
(with coconut cream cheese icing)
sits a nest of toasted coconut,
gently cradling
a tiny speckled chocolate egg.

mini cupcakes coconut cadbury  mini eggs

I pack the tiny cakes in repurposed egg cartons that I've decorated with custom labels.  I'm sharing free downloads at the end of this post.  

mini coconut cupcakes packaged in egg carton
Look!  One of the nestlings has hatched!

Mini Lemon Cupcakes

(makes 4-5 dozen, depending on the size of your baking cups)

9 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
zest of one lemon
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup whole milk, hot but not boiling

Prep:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line mini muffin pans with paper liners. ( I used extra tall cups, yielding 4 dozen mini cupcakes.)

Step 1:  With an electric mixer, cream together the butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes.  Add eggs and beat to combine.  Add lemon zest, juice and vanilla and beat to incorporate.

Step 2:  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Step 3:  Heat milk till hot but not boiling.

Step 4:  Stir the dry and wet ingredients alternately in to the butter/sugar mixture (in 3 batches) starting with the hot milk.  To finish, beat on high for 30 seconds.

Step 5:  Fill mini muffin liners 3/4 full.  Bake for 13 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Step 6:  Remove from oven and cool thoroughly on an elevated rack.

mini muffins in egg carton with peeps

To Decorate with Coconut Nests

--1 bag Cadbury Mini Eggs
--1 14 ounce bag Angel Flake coconut
--Your favorite white frosting (I make a classic cream cheese icing, substituting coconut milk for regular milk or cream)
--Optional: a chenille Easter chick (I usually find them at World Market)

Step 1:  Toast half of the coconut on a piece of foil, in the oven at 300 degrees F until toasted on one side.  Toss, then cook another few minutes until the coconut is evenly browned.

Step 2:  Toss the toasted coconut with the remaining white coconut in a large bowl.

Step 3:  Lightly frost a mini cupcake.  Grab a handful of the coconut and pack it on to the frosted cupcake (over the bowl).  Lightly shake off excess. 

Step 4:  Twist a chocolate egg into the center of the coconut nest.

Optional:  Cut one egg in half with a serrated knife.  Microwave for just a few seconds, to softened the chocolate.  Scoop the chocolate out with the tip of the knife to make hollow egg halves.  Decorate one (or more) cupcakes with a chenille chick and the egg halves.  

To Decorate the Egg Carton
Print, trim and glue the labels below on the egg carton.
I used a natural handmade-paper for the labels and an Elmer's Craft Bond Extra Strength Glue Stick to adhere them.
Download the pink labels HERE 
Download the blue labels HERE


Does this post look familiar?  The recipe and tutorial was originally published in March of 2012 as a guest post at The Southern Institute.

 This post has been linked-up with:
The Inspiration Board at Homework 

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