Chances are you may have heard of huckleberry in terms of literature (Huckleberry Finn), cartoons, (Huckleberry Hound) and/or uttered the phrase made famous by Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday in the movie Tombstone.
If you’ve never visited or lived in the Northwestern United States or Western Canada, however, you may not know huckleberries are an actual fruit you can eat. The flavor is somewhere between a blueberry and a blackberry. This sweeter cousin to the blueberry likes to hide in the deep woods in rich, acidic volcanic soil above 2000 feet elevation. Huckleberry season is August – September. For these reasons, no one has cultivated huckleberries. If you want huckleberries, here are your choices:
- Order them on Amazon for roughly $90 a gallon. There are rumors due to the wildfires here in the northwest they could go up to $99/lb. very soon.
- Hike into the woods and fight the bears, mountain lions and birds to pick them yourself. You go Grizzly Adams!
- Do what I did and buy some yummy huckleberry products from a tourist trap!
I’ve had huckleberry preserves, jam and syrup from a variety of these places and they’re all YUM-MY! Now that I live in Oregon, I’m going to show hometown pride and suggest Made in Oregon (www.madeinoregom.com). You can order them online or plan a vacation. I vote for the vacation. I love picking up ‘local’ ingredients while on vacation. Am I the only one?
To make these cupcakes, I slightly adapted this vanilla cupcake recipe, swapping out the regular sugar with brown sugar for a slightly more caramel flavor. Then I plunked some huckleberry preserves in the middle. Plunking is a very sophisticated baking term. Mixed up some crumble with oats and almonds and plunked that on top. <– See? More plunking.
Now, these cupcakes will not win any beauty contests. Between the extra moisture from the preserves and the butter in the crumble they will sink in the middle, pull away from the liners and fall apart a bit when you eat them. I warned you in the title by including the word ‘crumble’. I don’t care, they were really good. Brown sugary cake, with a fruity, gooey surprise. A bit of oats and almonds laced with more brown sugar and cinnamon for texture. Perfect, simple comfort food.
If you’re not traveling with these, serve them warm with a dollop of vanilla infused whipped cream or (even better) a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Eat them with spoons. I know they’re cupcakes and supposed to be eaten with your hands….let it go.
My cupcakes were on the move, being shared with friends near and far, so instead I made a heavy-on-the-vanilla buttercream. I used an ice cream scoop to put it on. Hey, they were already ugly, a frosting swirl wasn’t going to help. Why dirty a piping tip? We’re on vacation, right? No dishes!
And yes, you can substitute any type of berry preserves if you can’t find huckleberry. Make it interesting, though!
Huckleberry Crumble Cupcakes (makes 16-18)
- 1/4 cup of unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Work the butter into the mixture with your fingers until crumbly. Freeze crumble for 30 minutes prior to using.
- 1 cup of loosely packed brown sugar
- 1 3/4 cups cake flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup full fat sour cream
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla bean paste
- 2/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 1/2 cup huckleberry preserves
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line muffin pan with liners. Whisk together the brown sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat in the butter until the mixture resembles wet sand. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream and oil. Add this to the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Slowly add in the milk, mixing until incorporated. The batter will be liquid.
Fill liners 1/2 full, drop in roughly a 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons of huckleberry preserves into the center of each cupcake. Divide the crumble equally between cupcake. Bake for 16 – 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake portion comes out clean. Remove from tins immediately to cool or serve.
- 1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 Tablespoons vanilla bean paste
- 2 – 3 cups of powdered sugar
Beat butter and vanilla bean paste until light and fluffy. Add in powdered sugar one cup at a time until it reaches desired consistency. Frost cooled cupcakes.
Until next time stick a cupcake in your cakehole!