Momma's Blackberry Dumplings (Paleo-Style)

At my local Sprouts market, blackberries were only $0.88 cents/6 oz container, so I took the opportunity to stock up this weekend. I got 6 packages of blackberries and used them all to create a Paleo version of my all-time favorite dessert, blackberry dumplings. My mom's recipe is the best in the world, and I used her methods along with a recipe for grain-free dumplings. I have a lot of good memories eating her blackberry dumplings. Of course the best part was the dumplings, which were basically drop biscuits. What was so good about them was that they had 3 textures: berry-soaked on the bottom, fluffy in the middle, and flaky golden-brown on top. She never over-sweetened the berries---I liked how they were always pleasantly tart. They were good with vanilla ice cream but I had no problem eating them plain as well. Nine times out of ten I would be happy passing up a piece of chocolate cake for those dumplings!
The dumpling recipe I came up with was inspired by two recipes from the Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook. I used a combination of their biscuit and shortcake recipes to come up with a sturdy dumpling that could withstand being cooked with one surface submerged in the berry liquid. Their shortcake recipe is based on almond flour, however the biscuit recipe has both almond and coconut. I thought the mixture of flours would be more sturdy, however the flavorings of the shortcake was more what I had in mind: more butter than the biscuits, and some vanilla and honey. So after starting with the biscuit recipe and adding cinnamon for a bit of spice, I increased the butter and proceeded with the shortcake recipe. Deciding whether to add the 6 egg whites of the biscuit recipe or the 2 eggs from the shortcake recipe was only slightly more difficult. I thought the 6 egg whites would make the texture too light; I wanted a slightly dense dumpling. The egg yolks would provide more density and creaminess, so I went with the two eggs. I am really happy with the results of this recipe. You can see the three distinct layers, just like my mom's blackberry dumplings. The dumplings are just sweet enough and stood up against having both been cooked in the blackberry juices and with the heat of the oven. Another bonus is they helped thicken the fruit without my needing to be worried about adding a thickener to the berry juices. The honey does provide a bit more flavor than just granulated sugar, which is also nice. These were such a great treat and a special way to celebrate berry season. I can't wait to try this method with other seasonal fruits...peach season can't come soon enough!

Momma's Blackberry Dumplings (Paleo-Style)
Printable Recipe

For the fruit:

36 oz fresh or frozen blackberries (can use black raspberries)
1/4-1/2 cup honey, depending on how sweet the berries are

For the dumplings:

1/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
3/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
dash salt
3 tbsp cold unsalted butter (I like Kerrygold), cut into cubes
2 eggs
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

butter, for the dish

1. In a medium saucepan, add the berries and 1/4 cup of the honey (you can always add the remaining 1/4 cup later). Bring to simmer over medium heat and simmer until the volume of the fruit is approximately one-half, the juices are thickened, and the berries are about 50% pulp, 50% whole. This should take approximately 30 min. Taste to see if you need more honey and adjust accordingly.

2. While the berries cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Also, start to make the dumplings: in a small bowl, add the coconut and almond flours along with the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the cold butter and cut it in using a pastry cutter, butter knife, a fork, or, your fingertips. Blend until you have small crumbs. Place the crumb mixture into the refrigerator to chill for at least 20 min.
3. After the berries are cooked, transfer them to a buttered 1.5-qt casserole dish. Place them in the over to keep warm; they must be bubbling hot when you add the dumplings.
4. After placing the berries in the oven, in a medium bowl beat the eggs, honey, and vanilla together (I used a fork for this). Retrieve the dry ingredients from the refrigerator and fold them in with the egg mixture (again I used a fork).
5. Pull the berries out of the oven and, working quickly, drop 8 even-sized dumplings onto the surface of the berries and place back into the oven and bake for 15-18 min or until the tops of the dumplings are golden and are cooked through---test with a toothpick to make sure they are solid. Serve hot or room temperature.

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