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…

Happy Star Wars Day: The Making of Darth Chocolate

A long time ago
In a galaxy far, far away...

...Before Star Wars candy and ice cube molds
could be found at geek emporiums
throughout the universe...

...Fans had to rely on their own creativity,
and channeled the force to bring their
Star Wars dreams to life...

Back in 2010, I posted this tutorial for how to make your own chocolate molds using silicone plastique. Using a vintage Han in Carbonite action figure, I created this chocolate mold, from which delicious Solo Bars could be made.

When I saw these Star Wars themed Easter treat containers at Target this year, I didn't know immediately what I would do with them, but I had to have them.  I cleared the shelf and stashed away my collection of mini Darth Vader helmets; as happy as a Wookie with a cookie.

I'm not the only Star Wars fan in the family -- My husband and I have made sure to raise our kids right.  So, as Star Wars Day (May 4 -- "May the Fourth Be With You") approached, there was a clamor from our little jawas to make a Star Wars themed treat.

That's where Chef Andre, chocolatiering instructor -- my culinary Obi Wan -- comes in.  One of the most profound jewels of wisdom passed down by this Jedi Knight of the Chocolate Arts was that candy molds can be made out of virtually everything.  He trained me and my classmates to be ever on the lookout for ordinary items that we could use to artfully mold chocolates.

A call went out for donations to a local charity bake sale this weekend (of May 4th), and it was just the extra push I needed to melt down a few pounds of chocolate and put those little Vader helmets to good use.


There was definitely some trial and error involved -- that's to be expected when molding chocolate in an item not originally intended for that purpose.  My test piece came out perfectly, so I proceeded to create a whole batch.  It was a flop.  The chocolate released perfectly from the back of the helmet, but not from the front.  I honed my technique and finally met with success.  Here's how I did it:

Darth Chocolates 

  • Chocolate:  If you're not experienced with tempering chocolate, use candy melts.  I like the taste and quality of Ghirardelli melts, which can sometimes be found at Target.  If you are adept at tempering chocolate, use and temper your favorite.
  • Darth Vader Treat Containers
  • Optional:  A Bubble Ice Mat (made for putting in your cooler) A bag of frozen peas works well too
  • Tent Cards (print HERE for free)
  • Cellophane treat bags
  • Cookie Crisp cereal

Step 1:  Melt your chocolate.  Don't overheat.  Set your frozen ice mat or bag of frozen peas nearby.

Step 2:  Fill front of mold to the top with chocolate.  Set aside on the ice mat.  Fill the back of the mold.  Set aside on the ice mat.  Take both pieces (one in each hand) and invert briefly over your bowl of melted chocolate (just a quick flip of the wrist) to release a little of the melted chocolate.  Immediately press both sides of the mold together and set aside, standing upright.  This builds up a sturdy base at the bottom which will help the chocolate remain intact when removed from the mold.  This process should be done one piece at a time and you should work quickly.

Step 3:  Once all of the molds have been filled, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Step 4:  To unmold, give each mold a light squeeze.  This should help force some air under the chocolate to make it easier to remove.  Pry open at the seam (I found that the top of the helmet was the best spot).  The back will come off first.  Gently wiggle off the front of the helmet.

Step 5:  Package in cellophane treat bags on a bed of mini cookies.  Top with a tent card and staple in place.

To wash your molds, use a scrub brush and hot water.  Avoid using soap.   

May the Fourth Be With You!

Are you celebrating Star Wars Day?
Who is your favorite Star Wars Character?

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