Despite Canadians earning something of a reputation for being quiet, one of their more prominent desserts is anything but. In fact, one of the sweeter specialties of the eastern (Maritime) provinces is something with the rather peculiar name of Blueberry Grunt, so-called due to the noise blueberries make as they cook down and partially reduce to a thick, textured syrup.
In fact, the Grunt is fairly simple, with the cinnamon-laced blueberries mostly (but not entirely!) covered with an undulating sweetened biscuit topping. It’s somewhat similar to a cobbler, but in a Grunt the topping is fluffier and softer, a consistency perfect for soaking up all those syrupy blueberries. While the Grunt may have originated in Nova Scotia and environs, it now is prepared and consumed eagerly all up and down the North American East Coast, wherever blueberries thrive.
Of the many recipes out there, one of the more promising appears on the Earth, Food, and Fire website. The result thrills the eater with all kinds of delight. From cinnamon gently warming the blueberries’ tangy exuberance, to the topping’s more subtle bronzed sweetness, the exquisite combination is hard to top. A silken dollop of freshly-whipped cream aims to do just that, though. and by gosh, it succeeds. Especially when the warm Grunt slowly melts the topping, feeding creamy streams that ooze over the berries.
Below is the grunt in a more boisterous mood, causing all sorts of commotion as the blueberries cook down to perfection. This is Part I of the process, under cover on the stovetop, before the waiting oven gives the biscuit a delicious golden-brown glow:
In production, the Grunt is a noisy dessert, creating all sorts of fuss as the berries make their way in the world. Eventually, though, things settle and all is at peace. For a bit. Soon enough, though, it’s diners who shatter the silence. The blueberries had their say; now one hears noises more similar to, “Mmm,” “Are there seconds?” and “Seriously, where’s more?” Just like Canadians, causing a riot.
East Coast Blueberry Grunt
For the blueberries:
- 4 cups fresh blueberries (*1)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- juice from half a lemon
- a splash of water, if using fresh berries (*2)
For the dough:
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/2 cup butter
Start by cooking the blueberries, giving them time to simmer while you prepare the dough. Pour the berries into a skillet. Add the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Cook the blueberries over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until a sauce emerges and begins to bubble. If you’re using fresh berries, add a splash of water to prevent the sugar from burning
After bubbling begins, lower the heat ever-so-slightly, and move on to making the dough. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Use a fork to mix in the butter until it’s evenly crumbled throughout the mix. Butter should be a little smaller than is a pea.
Mix together the milk and egg, then use a spoon to mix this into the flour-butter combination. Dough will be a bit shaggy. Preheat the oven to 400°.
Using a spoon, carefully drop pieces of batter atop the bubbling blueberies. Space the pieces as evenly as you can, also try to cover as much of the blueberries as is possible. Cover skillet with a lid, or tightly with aluminum foil. Reduce flame to low and cook thusly for 15 minutes.
After the 15 minutes, remove the lid/foil and place the skillet in the oven. Once the biscuit is golden-brown, about ten minutes, remove from oven, divvy into individual servings, and top with whipped cream (recipe below).
1 – Use two pounds of frozen berries if preparing this in the winter, or if you can’t get fresh. Although frozen, generally speaking, are quite good, fresh is best.
2 – Naturally, omit the water if you’re using frozen, as the thawing berries will have sufficient moisture.
Freshly Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place a mixer bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer. After 15 to 20 minutes, remove them (they should be heavily frosted) and attach to the mixer.
Pour the cream into the mixer bowl. Activate mixer to its lowest speed. Add the sugar and the vanilla extract, Keep mixing at low speed until both additions are thoroughly incorporated.
Gradually increase the motor speed to its highest setting and continue to whip until the cream is light and fluffy and soft peaks form, about six minutes
Pipe or dollop whipped cream onto dessert.