Blueberry Pie Bars


Trips and weddings (momentarily) out of the way, I finally have time to concentrate on Summer (!!!) the season of sunshine, longer days, my extensive Summer dress collection, plus corn, tomatoes, basil, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, and watermelon, to name just a few. That’s right – my idea of a good time every June-August is not just laying on the beach in a futile attempt to tan but also finding ways to maximize all the season's gorgeous veggies and fruit. Indeed, Summer is hands down my favorite of all the four seasons, and if I'm being completely honest, Winter's Christmas has nothing on a tomato basil shortcake.  

First up this year: blueberries. Last year I posted a recipe for Blueberry Pie, homemade pie crust, crumble topping, juicy filling and all. For me, it is The Blueberry Pie to rule all Blueberry Pies, the best blueberry pie, checking blueberry pie boxes I didn’t even know existed…that is, with the exception of one: office-friendly. You’ve heard lots about the lovely people I work with (here, and here, and here, and oh also here) and know by now that most of what I bake goes to them, not only because I can’t eat a whole cake by myself, but because I adore them and there’s no one else I’d rather spoil with desserts on a Monday morning (or a Tuesday at 11:00 when lunch is still far away, or the final push Friday at 4:00 – you get the idea). Cookies, bars, and everyday cakes are much easier to deliver and eat in the 9-5 office setting, which brings me to these Blueberry Pie Bars, or all the Blueberry Pie goodness in a portable, compact square, no fork, spoon, or plate required. These are pretty dreamy, friends -- the filling is just sweet enough to  complement and allow the berries to shine (not to mention bright sapphire-blue) there's a hint of cinnamon and lemon, and, for those of you who, unlike me, don’t find making pie crust incredibly gratifying, this recipe eliminates it completely, replacing it with a crumbly, buttery base that also acts as streusel-y topping. These were perfect for my colleagues on a Monday morning, but if you're not baking for the people you work with, the portability of these bars also makes them ideal for Summer barbecues, picnics, or any 4th of July Festivities you my fellow Americans have scheduled for tomorrow.

A couple of notes: You could probably replace the blueberries here for raspberries, or do a mix of blueberries and raspberries (especially if you want a red, white, and blue dessert). I feel like cherries would work too, though I’ve never tried it. If you don’t have crème fraiche or sour cream where you are (I only just found it in a supermarket here – Todis and some Carrefours, for the record) you could probably substitute full-fat Greek Yogurt just fine. Let the bars cool completely before cutting (I’m mean, I know) so that they have time to set.

For more Summer-y dessert recipes, check out this Summer Berry Cake, these Strawberry Chocolate Shortcakes, these Berry Crostatas, these Raspberry and Blueberry Shortcakes, these Berry Tartlets, this Blackberry Cheesecake Galette, these Honey and Cinnamon Glazed Peaches, this Watermelon Granita, these Raspberry Yogurt Popsicles, this Vanilla Salted Caramel Ice Cream, this S'more Pie, these S'more Bars, these Nutella Banana Fudge Pops, orrrrr these Butterscotch Pudding Pops

BLUEBERRY PIE BARS

Ingredients for crust:
1/2 cup (112 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Ingredients for filling:
1 egg
1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream or crème fraiche
1/3 cup  (about 65 grams) sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon flour
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups (350 grams) blueberries

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8x8 inch baking pan. Start with the crust -- in the bowl of a food processor, combine the butter, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Process until the mixture starts to come together, about 1 minute. Remove 3/4 cup of the crust mixture and reserve; press the remaining crust evenly into the prepared baking pan. Set aside. Note: if you don't have a food processor for all of this, this step can be done by hand -- just cut in the butter with your fingertips like you would to make a pie crust. It will take a little while works just fine.                       
For the filling, whisk together the egg, sour cream, sugar, lemon juice, flour, cornstarch, vanilla extract and cinnamon in a bowl until smooth. Mix in the blueberries. Pour the filling mixture over the crust, shaking the pan gently to settle the custard and berries.


Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture over the top of the berries.
Bake for 50-60 minutes in your preheated oven, or until the filling it set, the berries have burst, and the crumble is light golden brown.                      
 
Let the Blueberry Pie Bars cool completely. Cut them in to squares and refrigerate until ready to serve (these were actually pretty good cold). Makes 9-12 bars.
(Ready for the commute to work).
               

Recipe barely adapted from www.foodnetwork.com




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