Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried more and more to cook seasonally. By that I mean that I try to use in-season produce as much as possible – if it’s local too, so much the better. Nashville is a fantastic city for seasonal cooking as we have an array of farmers markets, organic markets, specialty stores, and supermarkets. I realize that not everyone has the time or interest to visit multiple food stores per week, but for a foodie like me, it’s pretty great.
That being said, I’m sure you’re asking yourself why I’m featuring a blueberry recipe today when blueberries are most certainly not in season – at least not in the U.S. Here’s why – my loving husband and sweet father-in-law went grocery shopping for us last weekend and picked up a huge container of blueberries since they know I love them. You can’t fault them for that! The blueberries had good flavor, but their texture was a little mealy. We didn’t want to eat them straight out of the container, but I knew they would be perfect for baking.
A quick scan through my ever-growing list of waiting-to-be-tried dessert recipes led me to these Spiked Blueberry Crumb Bars. The recipe called for the exact amount of blueberries I had on hand and could be made relatively easily with only one hand – and the help of my trusty stand mixer. (I made these a few days post-burn.)
I must say, in season or not, I’m so glad we had these blueberries hanging out in our fridge because these crumb bars rock. A sweet (but not too sweet) blueberry filling is spiked with a little rum (or lemon juice if you’re not feeling the rum) and sandwiched between two layers of crumbly crust. The bars are delicious warm, cold, or room temperature. After some scientific taste testing, I’d have to say we like them best very cold, right out of the fridge. The recipe makes a lot so these crumb bars would be perfect for entertaining, made for a fancy brunch dessert or served with tea after dinner. I finally had to pop the last few into the freezer to save us from ourselves.
One Year Ago: Stuffed Pizza Rolls
Spiked Blueberry Crumb Bars
Adapted from Cookin’ Canuck
4 cups fresh blueberries
3 T. dark or gold rum (or fresh lemon juice)
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
4 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, stir together blueberries, rum (or lemon juice), 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, and the cornstarch. Set aside.
In another bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and the brown sugar. Stir in the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture is crumbly then stir in the egg. (The mixture will be in bigger "crumbles" after you add the egg.)
Press half of the flour mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
Spread the blueberry mixture over the crust.
Sprinkle the rest of the flour mixture over the blueberries.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
Cool the bars in the pan on a cooling rack. Transfer the pan to the refrigerator to chill before cutting the bars. (They are easier to cut neatly and remove from the pan when cold.)
Makes about 24 to 28 bars (depending on how you cut them).