Our two-year old grandson, who lives on the upper part of our property with his parents, wanders down outside most mornings with purple lips and purple fingers, happily munching on a few of the mulberries growing on branches low enough for him to reach. The first time he told us he was picking mulbabies, we knew they would always and forever be known as such.
We have 7 or 8 mulbaby trees growing about the place. I can see 4 of them from my little window here where I work. It makes me think back to the days when we first bought the place (’02), and coming from California, had no idea what a mulberry was. We didn’t even know if they were edible and did the old “you try it first, no you try it!” routine until one of us finally did try one, and the rest is history. It is just a fact of life here in June and July that your fingers will be purple. Mulbabies are irresistible little things.
It wasn’t long after we discovered their deliciousness, that I created this mulbaby cobbler, which is still the first thing we do with them with they ripen. This year, though, we ventured out a little, and my daughter-in-law made mulbaby jam which is like the best thing ever. I’m down to my last 2 jars and I can’t abide the thought of a morning without that jam. Sigh.
And then I got it in my head to make this mulbaby tart and it was so good and so luscious that I thought that if you have a surplus of mulbabies at your place, you might want to get one made for yourself.
I do realize that half of the U.S. does not grow mulbabies (the western half), and if that’s where you find yourself, you can substitute blackberries, olallieberries, or any other berry-like fruit in the tart. But sadly, I can't imagine the jam without mulbabies.
If you aren't lucky enough to have access to mulberries where you are, here's a great resource for buying dried mulberries. which sound delicious. They can also be reconstituted and used for baking. It's also where I learned that mulbabies are a new superfood! Delicious AND good for you! Yay!! Here are the recipes…
Sophia's Mulbaby Jam
6 cups mulberries
3.5 Tbsp lemon juice
7 Tbsp pectin
5 cups sugar
Cook mulberries over medium heat for 10 min to loosen juice. Smash or run through a food mill. Add the berries, lemon juice and pectin to a pot over high heat and bring to a full rolling boil that can't be stirred down.
Add all of the sugar and return to a full boil. Boil hard for 1 minute stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and skim any foam, if necessary.
Ladle into sanitized jars and process according to your altitude. At sea level we hard boiled the jars for 10 min.
Do not be dismayed by the length of this recipe. I know it looks daunting, but it really isn’t. You can make the filling and berry topping well ahead of time which will make this a snap to assemble.
Although this is delicious with mulberries, you can also use blackberries or blueberries for the topping. You will need a 12” tart pan with a removable bottom, but a smaller tart pan will also work; you will just have some leftover ingredients which is not a bad thing. If you are using berries other than mulberries, I suggest you taste and add a little sugar to the topping if needed.
Makes one 12” tart
For the crust:
2 ½ cups flour
½ cup sugar
2 eggs (one egg is for brushing crust)
1 egg yolk
2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces
For the filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups milk
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (or more, if desired)
For the mulberry topping:
2 ½ cups of mulberries
½ cup of blackberry or mulberry jam
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
Make the topping:
In a medium saucepan, heat the jam over low heat until melted. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until chilled and the sauce has thickened slightly.
Make the filling:
1. In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks.
2. Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble forms and sputters. Reduce heat to low; still whisking, cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir the butter and vanilla into hot custard. Cover and let cool somewhat before assembling the tart.
Make the crust:
Sift together flour, sugar, and salt into a mixing bowl.
Beat together 1 of the eggs and the yolk in a small bowl,then add eggs, along with the butter, to the flour mixture.
Cut butter and eggs into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal (you can do this in the food processor).
Transfer to a clean surface and, working with a handful at a time, knead mixture with the heel of your hand into a smooth dough. Gather together and knead briefly to form a smooth ball, then dust with flour.
Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface into a 14” round, then carefully ease into a 12” tart pan. Run rolling pin over the top of the pan to cut off overhanging dough, then prick crust with a fork.
Line dough with parchment paper, add pie weights and bake on a cookie sheet until edge of crust is golden, about 25 minutes.
Beat remaining egg in a bowl. Remove parchment paper and weights from crust, brush bottom with egg, and continue baking until crust is golden, 5-7 minutes more. Let the crust cool for about 20 minutes before assembling the tart.
Remove the crust from the tart pan and place on a serving plate. Spoon the cooled custard into the tart shell and then spread that with the mulberry topping. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.