Boysenberries* happen to be a favorite of fruit of mine but finding them fresh at any market is nearly impossible, most likely because the boysenberry is not as widely cultivated as other vine berries. My mom and I fell in love with boysenberries when we first experienced them in Boysenberry Pie at Knott's Berry Farm's Chicken Restaurant back in the early 1960s. They had preserves and jams too so we took home jars of those as well. When I moved my folks up to the Northern California wine country, Mom and I discovered a local farm that grew boysenberries and we continued our boysenberry love affair. Sadly, it's nearly impossible to find boysenberries here in Tucson, but to this day a jar of Knott's Boysenberry jam is always in my refrigerator, it's a tradition that keeps my mother's memory close.
When I stumbled on a few bags of frozen boysenberries at a specialty grocery stores a few weeks ago I nearly cried with joy! Then I immediately grabbed up every single bag on the shelf! Yes, I was going to make pies and cobblers and crisps, but first I was making a cocktail!
This one's for you, Mom. I truly wish you were here to share it with me.
TOOLS: Juicer, blender, medium metal strainer, cocktail shaker, channel knife, jigger, measuring spoons, coupe cocktail glasses.
Chill your glasses in the freezer. Cut your spiral out of the Mandarin heal with your channel knife, set aside.
Juice or blend your boysenberries then strain out the tiny seeds.
Add the spiced rum, Kirsch, boysenberry juice, egg white, cream and Mandarin simple syrup to the blender and blend until the liquid volume doubles or about 30 seconds on puree setting.
Pour half the mixture into a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake until chilled then pour into your chilled coupe. Repeat with the remainder into a second coupe.
Dust top of meringue foam with cinnamon, add a few sugared, frozen (or fresh if you can get them!) boysenberries to a cocktail pick and set this across the glass then drape the Mandarin twist across the pick and serve.
Sharing my Boysenberry Boon with a visiting friend:
* WHAT IS A BOYSENBERRY?
A Boysenberry is a cross between a European Raspberry, a Common Blackberry and a Loganberry. They were originally cultivated by Rudolf Boysen who had gotten a "Lubbenberry", a cross between a dewberry and loganberry from John Lubben and began experimenting with several cross varieties on his Northern California farm.
In the late 1920s the rumor of these unusual berries was brought to the attention of Walter Knott, of Knott's Berry Farm fame, by George M. Darrow of the USDA and both men traveled to Lubben's abandoned farm, found a few neglected vines and transported then back to Knott's farm in Buena Park, California where Knott nursed them back into production. Knott renamed the hybrid Boysenberry in honor of Boysen and became the first to commercially cultivate the berry.
His wife eventually began to preserve the fruit in jams and jellies and sell Boysenberry pies at her tea shop at their farm's roadside stand, the same farm that would become the world famous Knott's Berry Farm and Amusement Park.
Today Knott's Berry Farm is still synonymous with Boysenberries, they even hold a Boysenberry Festival each year, and still serving up their famous Boysenberry Pie along with the best fried chicken I've ever eaten at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant right there at the park. Boysenberries are also featured for sale at the park in many of Mrs. Knott's original recipes for jams, jellies and other products, though, sadly, no longer under the Knott's trademark which is now owned by Smuckers.