My husband and I recently spent a weekend at a lovely bed and breakfast in the Hudson Valley. On our last morning there, our hosts served us stuffed French toast for breakfast. Blueberries and cream cheese sandwiched between thick slices of white bread, pan-fried until golden and crispy, and dripping with pure maple syrup. I was in heaven. My husband, who loathes all things creamy and cheesy, was not. Happily, I polished off my entire breakfast—and his, too.
Weeks later, I still can't get that French toast out of my head. There is just something so wonderful about the combination of tart blueberries and sweet maple syrup. It reminds me of summer, and of eating pancakes barefoot on the back porch of our house in New Hampshire. I wanted to translate those flavors (and those memories) into a jam that I could slather on my morning toast everyday.
Since it's not quite blueberry season yet here in the Northeast, I decided to use a combination of half blueberries and half rhubarb. This worked out even better than I had hoped, as the rhubarb really enhanced the jam's tartness. Looking to add a little complexity, I dug around my pantry and came up with star anise, cinnamon sticks, and half a vanilla bean, all of which I tossed into the pot.
The resulting jam is, quite honestly, one of the best I've ever made for this column. Thick, silky, and speckled with tiny chunks of blueberries, it has a pronounced maple flavor and is lightly scented with star anise, cinnamon, and vanilla. Of course, it would be perfect between layers of French toast (with or without the cream cheese), but try it with buttery scones or cinnamon streusel muffins, or swirl it into oatmeal.
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About the Author: Lucy Baker is a food writer and the author of The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets. She is currently at work on a second book about homemade food gifts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dachshund.