Belly up to the bar. The cookie bar that is. I love summer because there is just a plethora of fruit to choose from and I’ve been buying fruit like crazy lately. I bought an over abundance of blueberries this week (on sale) and stashed quite a few in the freezer. The rest of the berries were used to make these little berrylicious beauties. Cookie bars are the thing to make when you want to bake but you don’t have a lot of energy for something ambitious.
Blueberry Crumb Bars
3 Cups all purpose flour
1 Cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
zest of one lemon
1 Cup unsalted butter, cubed and kept cold
1 Lg. egg
1. Prepare a 9×13 baking pan by greasing the bottom and sides of the pan, then set aside. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and lemon zest and pulse a few times to combine. Add the cubed cold butter and pulse about 10 times to resemble coarse meal. Add the egg and pulse a few more times to combine. Portion out half; about 2 1/2 Cups of the crumb mixture for the base of the bars and press into the bottom of the prepared pan; reserve the rest of the crumble for the top. Make the filling as per below.
4 Cups fresh blueberries washed/drained
3/4 Cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
5 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cornstarch to combine. Add the blueberries and lemon juice and gently fold with a rubber spatula to combine. Pour the filling over the base crumb, and gently spread with a spatula as needed to ensure an even filling. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture allowing both smaller and larger bits to form when sprinkling the topping over filling. Bake in a 375° F preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until crumb topping is lightly golden brown. Allow the bars to cool completely then cut into squares or rectangles as desired.
Why do I feel a bit guilty when I eat a pop tart. Like I have to come up with some well thought out excuse why I want one. Maybe I just want a sugar laden rocket launch to head me into the 9 o’clock morning hour. Maybe I want an excuse to have a frosting covered dual slab o’ pastry for breakfast. With sprinkles. Maybe I’m calling out my inner 5 yr. old. Maybe, just maybe, I just kind of enjoy it. I still feel a bit guilty though- as I peel open with my teeth all kindergarten like, into that flimsy foil that houses the sugar slab of love. You know how there is always that one corner that gets super browned by the toaster and you always go for the corner bit to start? That super crispy corner gets me every time. Then you hit the warm oozy jam part and it’s like a guilty pleasure. The devil on the left shoulder is telling you, “Oh yeah, it’s good isn’t it?” and the angel on the right shoulder is telling you “You shoulda had bran flakes”. Forget bran flakes….
one recipe fearless pie crust
blueberry butter (purchased) Note: you can use any filling of your choice such as a thicker jam or preserves; a more tart filling is best to off set the sweet icing.
1 Cup confectioners sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
colored sugar sprinkles
Assembly: Roll out pie crust to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into triangles measuring 3×5 inches. Spread blueberry filling (about 1 Tbsp) into a thin layer; leaving about 1/2 inch border so filling is not too close to edge. Top with second pie crust rectangle and seal edges by pressing together with a fork. Pierce the tops of each tart with the tines of a fork about 6-8 times. Bake in preheated oven at 375° F for about 15 minutes or until crust looks set. Remove from oven and let cool on the tray over a wire rack. Once completely cooled- dip tops into icing and decorate as desired with sprinkles or sugar.
For Icing: mix together sugar and milk until smooth. If icing is too runny add a bit of extra sugar a teaspoon at a time.
Summer makes me lazy. Makes me so lazy that I’d much rather prefer eating an ice pop than scooping ice cream into a bowl. But summer was made for being lazy, right? Lazy pseudo naps in the hammock, lazy nights relaxing on the porch catching random breezes. No loading dirty bowls into the dish washer. Just fling the pop stick into the garbage. Lazy. Embrace it. You can totally blame it on me…
Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Pops
recipe: adapted from Southern Living
yield: 8-12 ice pops depending on size of molds
1 pint fresh, clean blueberries
3/4 Cup sugar
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. lemon juice
In a small sauce pan bring contents to boil and then turn down to simmer until mixture thickens. Let cool completely then place in refrigerator to chill until needed.
Cheesecake Ice Cream Base
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 1/2 Cups half and half
1/2 Cup buttermilk
3/4 Cup sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
1. Process ingredients in a blender until smooth; about 1 minute. Pour into a freezable container and place in the freezer. Freeze for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
2. Stir 3/4 cup blueberry swirl into the ice cream base and continue to freeze again for another 20 minutes; saving the rest of the blueberry swirl to layer ice pops with.
3. Layer blueberry ice cream into ice pops molds and freeze about 20 minutes. Spoon a thin layer of blueberry swirl, then freeze for 10 minutes. Spoon another layer of ice cream over swirl- freeze for 20 minutes, and continue once more with swirl and freeze as indicated before topping off with ice cream. After 15 minutes insert popsicle sticks into ice pops and continue to freeze until firm.
p.s. If you don’t want to layer the ice pops with a stripe- you can mix in all of the swirl into the base and spoon the mixture into the molds-wait about an hour until firm enough to insert the pop sticks.
You may also use the base recipe and process in your ice cream maker and once done churning, layer the base with the blueberry swirl in a square shaped ice cream container.
You know that saying, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t?” Well, sometimes you feel like streusel, and sometimes you don’t. Guess what I felt like today? Yep. Totally into streusel. I love the crunchy sugary top of a muffin that happens after the streusel topping melts into the muffin. The best way to eat these is to break them open and smear sweet butter on them while still warm. These muffins have a very tender crumb because of all the sour cream in them. The technique is kind of an unusual recipe (from Cook’s Illustrated) but it creates a very soft tender muffin.
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
yield: 12 muffins
2 Cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries
1 large egg
1 Cup sugar
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 1/4 Cups sour cream
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 Cup all purpose flour
1/3 Cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp. melted butter
For streusel: In a small bowl combine all ingredients with a fork. Set aside until ready to use.
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with non stick spray or butter.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Add blueberries, and toss to combine.
3. In a large bowl whisk egg until light colored; about 20 seconds. Add sugar and whisk vigorously until thick and homogenous, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter in 2-3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add sour cream in 2 additions, whisking until just combined. Add flour mixture in 2-3 additions and gently fold after each addition until batter comes together; being careful not to over-mix. Batter may have small spots of flour remaining. Do not over-mix. Batter will be thick.
4. Distribute batter evenly among prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle streusel topping over each muffin. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out with few crumbs attached. Let muffins cool in tin for 10 minutes, then remove to cool over wire rack.
Have you noticed that dessert wise, mini is it? Mini is super fun. Mini cupcakes, macarons, cake pops, mini scones. We like mini. I like mini. Frankly I’m kind of mini dessert obsessed. With mini you can enjoy with no guilt. Just don’t eat 14 minis. One great thing about mini desserts is, there is no cutting. This is really handy when you are entertaining, everyone can help themselves. We are coming up on the season of family gatherings. Family reunions, graduations, backyard barbeques. Mini is your friend when entertaining. Caterers have known this for years. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love the look of a beautiful full size pie and they have their own glory. Bringing someone a full size pie as a gift is a beautiful thing. For years commercial food marketing dominated super size. Super size fries, Big Mac, Big Gulp as an example. I know we are talking dessert here, but I think as consumers now we’ve gone to the other extreme and we figured out that when it comes to mini; mini is it. Having mini desserts at weddings is very in. Cruise around the internet and search among wedding blogs and you will find dessert tables with mini treats are really en vogue. Mini is here to stay. Get in touch with your inner mini and bake up some minis…
See my recipe for All Butter Pie Crust
Blueberry Mini Pies
yield: ~ 8-10 mini pies
recipe adapted from “Mini Pies” by Christy Beaver and Morgan Greenseth
One recipe of my All Butter Pie Crust (see above)
3 Cups blueberries
1/4 sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. culinary rose water (optional) (if you don’t like rose; just replace with water)
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
milk for brushing pie crusts
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Generously grease a 12 cup standard size muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.
2. Combine the berries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, rose water, lemon zest and lemon juice in a large bowl.
3. Roll out the pie crust to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Using a 4 inch round or scalloped edge cutter, cut 12 crusts. Re-form and re-roll dough as necessary.
4. Carefully shape the crusts into the wells of the muffin tin, crimping the edges with your fingers.
5. Fill each mini pie to the brim with the blueberry mixture, about 3 tablespoons for each pie. Top each pie with a decorative mini cut out if desired.
6. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the pie crusts with milk and then sprinkle with sugar.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the crusts are golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the muffin tin, then carefully remove the pies from the pan and place on a wire rack to finish cooling. To remove, first try to spin the pies in the muffin wells. If they need a little extra help, run a butter knife along the edge of the crusts to pop them out of the tin. I like to pop the cooled pies into pretty paper muffin liners- it makes it handy to have something to eat out of helps protect the pies from cracking. Since the pies shrink a little during baking they fit nicely into paper lines without any problem.
8. Serve, or store in an airtight container at room temp for up to 2 days.
Scones are probably one of my favorite breakfast treats. A hot scone, the morning paper and a good cup of joe is the beginning of a good day. The thing I love about scones is the possibilities are endless. You can make up any combination of fruit or fruit and nuts. This scone recipe is simple and rustic; no rolling out, no fussy cutting, just scoop and drop. This is a good recipe if you have company coming for a weekend. Make the batter ahead of time-scoop them all out on a parchment lined sheet tray, freeze until firm and then remove them from the tray, store in a ziplock bag; then when you want scones you can bake them off; you just have to adjust the baking time for longer.
Blueberry Drop Scones
(yield: 8-10 scones)
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/4 Cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lemon zest
6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 Cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 Large egg
3/4 Cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium bowl, with a fork combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Using a pastry blender cut in the cubes of butter until mixture is crumbly but you still have pea sized pieces of butter.
2. In a measuring cup whisk the egg and milk. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture using a fork to combine. Fold in the blueberries. The batter will be very wet.
3. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper drop batter using an ice cream scoop; leaving 2 inch space between each scones. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Serve warm.
As a kid growing up in Michigan my friends and I would pick blueberries in the summer to try and earn some cash.
I say try because we were not really good at making any money. Somehow the berries would end up making it into our mouths more than the bucket. It was a social gathering with all of our friends lined up along a row of blueberry bushes talking, plucking, eating and dropping a few berries into a bucket. After our one bucket was collected, which seemed to take an eternity; we would collect our meager cash and head home on our bikes with our bellies full of blueberries.
I still think that Michigan has the best blueberries ever. I admit, I may be a little biased in that thinking. Living in California now I am fortunate to have a wide range of wonderful ripe fruit but there is something about a Michigan blueberry or any blueberry that brings up fond memories of my summers growing up in Michigan. When the season of blueberries was coming to a close, my Mother would always buy the last bit of wonderful berries she could find (in large quantities I might add) and squirrel them away in the freezer so we had berries during the winter. There are about a million recipes for blueberry buckle or coffee cake and this is just my version I’ve come up with. I hope you enjoy it.
Blueberry Buckle (Blueberry Coffee Cake)
3/4 C sugar
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 C milk*
1/4 C sour cream (*if you don’t have sour cream, you can use all milk and bump up the amount to total 1/2 cup)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Cups fresh blueberries; washed and drained
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C light brown sugar
1/3 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 C butter, softened
1/3 C chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 375º F.
2. Prepare an 8 inch square pan with a parchment sling and lightly spray with baking spray, or grease the pan. You know about my obsession with parchment slings, right?
3. In a medium large bowl, cream the sugar and butter until combined. Add the egg and mix until combined.
4. In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients: 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. In a one cup measuring cup whisk the sour cream, milk and vanilla together; set aside.
6. To the creamed mixture from step one, add in 1/2 half of the dry ingredient mixture from step 4, alternating with the milk mixture, ending with the last of the flour mixture.
7. Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.
8. Spread the batter [it will be quite thick] into the prepared pan.
9. Prepare the crumble: combine the sugars, flour, cinnamon, butter with a pastry blender, then mix in the nuts. Sprinkle over the batter.
10. Bake at 375º F for about 50 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Note: you can double this recipe and use a 9 x 13 inch pan if you have a large posse to feed.