Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blueberry Shortbread Bars – Please Don’t Call These Cookies

I’ve gotten a lot of shortbread requests, but haven’t done a video for it yet, since I’m not a huge fan of that particular cookie in its classic form. However, I love those little bars you see in the pastry case at the coffee shop, which feature a slightly moister shortbread base, topped with some kind of seasonal fruit.

I always wondered how they were made, and then I saw this peach shortbread post on Smitten Kitchen, which looked just like the aforementioned bars. So, I adapted that recipe, losing the egg white and switching out peaches for the very user-friendly blueberries. Besides, by adding fruit and calling them “bars,” we have something that sounds so much healthier than “cookies.”

There are no special skills required here, but you really want to get your hands on a wire pastry cutter, literally. Sure, you can dirty your food processor, but a pastry cutter will do the job quickly and easily, and you can really feel and see what’s happening in the bowl. Of course, if you’re not doing the dishes, go ahead and use the machine.

As I say in the video, any summer fruit will work, as long as you don’t use too much, and it’s not too wet. You need to have room for the crumbs on top to nestle down around the fruit to hold everything together. Also, if you roll with a particularly large entourage, you can easily double this recipe for a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 bars:
6 1/2 ounces (by weight) AP flour (about 1 1/2 cups of sifted flour, aka not packed)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice (or a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg)
1 stick (1/2 cup) very cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon ice water, dripped over mixture
about 3/4 cup blueberries, or enough to cover surface

View the complete recipe