Blueberry Nut Bars

Blueberry Nut Bars

We’ve been over doing it, have you? My kids are berry eaters anyway, but since local wild blueberries have appeared it’s gotten slightly out of control. Julian yells at me when he sees them in the grocery store and would prefer a diet made exclusively of these little gems. I love watching his focus as her practices that pincer grasp, plucking up the tiny berries from his high chair tray and then jamming them purposefully in his mouth. Ah, human greed.

Esme and I got through this past rainy Saturday by baking with blueberries. We had a playdate on Sunday afternoon and wanted to bring along a treat. Her buddy’s dad is a  doctor who kindly took a distraught phone call from me recently about a medical issue Julian is having. I’m sure doctor’s love that, when they’re asked to give second opinions over the phone, right? Umm…. I know, ridiculous, but he was very nice about it and so these bars were also a thank you. I got a classic double take from Esme’s pal when I handed over the container of berry bars to him but said, “These are for your dad, you’ll have to ask him if he’ll share.”

Recipe

Crust and Crumble
1 cup flour
1 cup wholewheat flour
1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 sticks of cold butter
1/2 cup pecans (optional)

Filling
4 cups berries (I used 3 cups of blueberries and 1 cup blackberries but I can’t think of a combination that wouldn’t work. Maybe all strawberries would be too soft, but I like berries in combination best anyway.)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoon brown sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all the dry ingredients (except the pecans) from the Crust and Crumble together in a bowl. Toss well. Some will get all over the counter if you are baking with a three year old. Oh, well.

Either use a food processor to incorporate the cold butter until the mixture is crumbly and the pieces of butter are pea-size. Ours is to small so we did it by hand. Cut the butter up with a sharp knife first and add to dry mixture. Use your fingers, pinching each piece of butter and then tossing them so they get covered by the dry ingredients. Keep pinching and tossing until you have a crumble.

Remove 1 and 1/2 cups of the mixture and set aside.

Line a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan with parchment paper and then butter the parchment. This will make it much easier to get the squares out (and wash the pan). Press the crumb mixture into the pan. Use your hands or the back of a wooden spoon to really press it flat and even. Pop in the oven for 10 or 15 minutes until golden – not brown!

While the crust is baking, make the filling. Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Roughly chop pecans and add the small portion of crumble mixture you set aside. If you’re at all worried about nut issues just don’t add the nuts – it will still be great.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool. Once it’s cool add the berry mixture and then sprinkle the remaining crumble on top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the berries are bubbling and the crumble is golden brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting. Really, don’t rush this part or you’ll have a big mess! Lift the parchment out to remove the bars and place on the counter or cutting board. Cut lengthwise into four strips then across in four strips to make 16 bars. Or whatever size you like, really.

These weren’t cool enough to cut before Esme’s bedtime on Saturday night but they made a delicious pre-breakfast treat Sunday morning. And they packed up nicely to take on our play date where they were a big hit.

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