Mixed Berry Cocoa Jam

At one point this past summer, I found myself in possession of an enormous quantity of blackberries. It was my fault--I'd meant to order a couple quarts, but instead ordered a couple cases of quarts.

I'm admittedly not the most detail-oriented human being in the world, so this kind of stuff happens to me quite a bit. I decided to see it as an opportunity, and went to town with the berry recipes.

One of my favorite concoctions was a Blackberry Cocoa sorbet. A lovely combination of tart and sweet with rich cocoa undertones, it was a hit with everyone I served it to (and I admit that I couldn't stop slipping to the back freezer to sneak yet another spoonful of it). That recipe is something that I definitely plan to share with you in a few months when the berries are in season.

For now, let's talk about jam, which is significantly more winter appropriate.

This one is made with frozen berries--a whole mix of them that I had crowding my freezer (from yet another shopping frenzy). Remembering that wonderful sorbet, I simmered them with sugar and good cocoa, and marveled as it turned into a luscious and fragrant spread that's perfect on any number of carby vehicles.

The recipe below makes a small batch--just about a pint and a half--and requires no special ingredients. Just simmer, divide into jars, and store in the fridge.

The ultimate morning (or anytime) treat.

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Mixed Berry Cocoa Jam
Makes about 1 1/2 pints

Ingredients
2 pounds mixed berries (fresh or frozen & thawed--do not drain)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 large lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
Place a small plate in the freezer. Combine berries and sugar in a large saucepan and toss to coat. Let sit 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is slightly dissolved.

Add the cocoa powder and lemon juice, and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is softened and the sugar is completely dissolved (about 5 minutes)

Lower the heat to medium-high, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the fruit breaks down and the jam thickens into a syrupy mixture (about 20 minutes).

To test jam, drop a small spoonful of jam on the frozen plate and tilt. If it runs, it's not ready and needs a few more minutes. If it's thick and stays mostly in place, it's ready.

Remove jam from heat and stir in salt and vanilla. Divide into glass mason jars and cover. Let cool completely before storing in refrigerator up to 3 months.

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