Thursday, July 4, 2013

ChezCindy: Blueberry Crumble Bars

The abundance of summer fruits make the best and most simple picnic desserts.  My recent visit to the farmer's market enticed me with the most gorgeous raspberries.  However, I already had blueberries and plums in my refrigerator.  It took great willpower to skip the raspberries and wait until next week.  Not easy to do.

It's easy to become overwhelmed with the colors and splendor of the farmer's market and not have a plan for using the beautiful summer fruit.  This simple fruit crumble recipe will help with that dilemma. 

The recipe comes together quickly, and you can use most any fruit on hand throughout the summer.  Here I used blueberries and walnuts.  But a mix of fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) and sliced almonds would work nicely too.  Peaches and pecans are also a good combination.  The filling uses a store bought jam.  If you can't find blueberry jam, use a seedless raspberry with the fresh berries.  If you are using peaches or nectarines, stir in a peach jam. 

The fruit bars are best eaten the same day.  The crumb topping will get soft after a day once it absorbs moisture from the fruit.  It still tastes good, but you lose the crisp texture of the crumble.  My advice is to share with your neighbors, friends and family.  A good excuse for a summer picnic.

Blueberry Crumble Bars

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks)

1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup sweetened coconut (optional)

2 pints fresh blueberries
1 cup blueberry jam
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Prepare the crust:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Butter the bottom of a 9x13 inch metal baking pan.  Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar salt and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.  Cut the 2 sticks of cold butter into 1/2 inch pieces.  Add to the flour mixture; mix until the dough forms small clumps and is crumbly in texture.  Transfer 2 cups to a medium bowl; mix in the chopped nuts and the coconut.  Reserve for the topping.

Press the remaining crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.  Bake the crust for 18-20 minutes, until it is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Prepare the filling:  Mix together the filling ingredients.  Spread evenly over the cooled crust in the pan.  Spread the reserved crumb topping over the filling. 

Bake until the filling is bubbly around the edges of the pan and the topping is golden brown, about 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a rack. 

Cut into bars and serve. 

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