Friday, September 21, 2012

Mixed Berry Bars

What better way to enjoy summer berries than to sandwich them between a sweet, buttery crust? These mixed berry bars (raspberry, blueberry, blackberry) are sweet but tart, and delicious chilled.

Unfortunately, the busy first few weeks of school have kept me away from the blogging world and this recipe is coming to you in the early days of autumn. But if you're like me, you have bags of berries that you picked all summer in your freezer, just waiting for an opportunity to be showcased. Frozen berries from the supermarket will also work or you can simply daydream about making berry bars until next summer.

My boyfriend loves mixed berry pie, so when he hosted a bbq in late August, we couldn't think of a better dessert. With little time to perfect a pie crust and filling, however, I decided that bars would be quick to make and easy to enjoy (no plate or fork needed!). I searched and searched the baking blog world and found several recipes for berry bars before settling on smitten kitchen's blueberry crumb bar recipe. Many bakers whip up similar desserts with a granola crust in an attempt to make a breakfast-worthy bar. I was searching for that berry pie taste and had faith that Deb's buttery crust would be a success.

The most obvious change I made to Deb's recipe was adding raspberries and blackberries into the mix. If you prefer one over the other, the recipe will work just fine with any combination (I'm gluttonous, and needed them all). I find it hard to bake anything without adding cinnamon or maple syrup (seriously, how could you?) so I went ahead and added them into the crust and filling, respectively. I also opted to use raw sugar instead of granulated, and reduced the one cup of sugar to 3/4 cup in order to squeeze in some brown sugar.

The finished bars are delicious warm, just out of the oven, or refrigerated (our pick) and enjoyed on a hot day.

Mixed Berry Bars
Adapted from smitten kitchen
Makes approximately 32 bars

Crust and Topping
3 c. flour
3/4 c. raw sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 c. cold unsalted butter
1 egg
1/4 t. salt
1 T. cinnamon
zest of one lemon

1/2 c. raw sugar
4 t. cornstarch
juice of one lemon
maple syrup (optional)
4 c. berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

Preheat your oven to 375°. Line a 9 x 13 in. pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1/2 c. sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and maple syrup (if using). Gently fold in berries. Set aside.

Combine 3/4 c. sugar, brown sugar, flour, and baking powder in a bowl. Add salt and lemon zest. Cut in butter and egg with a pastry blender until dough is crumbly.

Pat half of dough into the bottom of your pan. Spread berries evenly over crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the berries.

Bake bars for approximately 55 minutes or until slightly browned (my batch took over an hour). Cool completely. Cut and serve at room temperature or refrigerate before serving.

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