Wild blueberries are really the best part about staying in the Maritimes in August. I could do without the hurricanes and the fruit flies (who have taken up residence in my apartment) and the imminent arrival of the fall semester, but these tiny little fruits somehow make this rather depressing season seem a bit more palatable - worthwile even.
Wild blueberries are the tinier but more powerful cousins to the cultivated behemoths at the grocery stores. They are a fraction of the size and yet they taste of pure distilled blueberry goodness. It’s almost like an intensely flavoured blueberry candy but without the cloying sweetness and artificiality.
Ok, So I’ve digressed into an ode to the wild blueberry. On to the recipe!
I’ve backlogged this recipe for streusel bars ever since I picked up the June/July 2008 issue of Fine Cooking Magazine. I was enchanted by the section on blueberry themed desserts (In fact, the pictures taunt me everytime I browse this magazine. Blueberry lime pound cake I’m coming for you next!) so with my hoard of wild blueberries, I decided to make these lemony bars full of bursting blueberry goodness. And you know they’ve gotta be good If I’m resorting to alliteration!
These bars are slightly fussier than your usually oat bar, because you bake in three steps rather than two (crust and then top). With these, after baking the crust, you layer on the filling and par-bake until it is shiny before then applying the topping and baking again. Really it’s not that much extra work. These really aren’t hard to make at all.
When cooled completely the lemon cream stays quite soft . The original recipe said to bake in a foil overhang so the bars can be lifted out of the pan easily but I found that the lemon cream was so soft if I had tried to lift them, the bars would have buckled and fallen apart. Just bake, cool and cut in a greased pan, I mean you'll still have to clean the pan anyways. These were soft and creamy at room temperature, but firm up in the fridge. Once you get past the first few edge pieces they are easy and relatively neat to slice into. (I eat the rejects/ evidence of clumsy bar slicing)
These bars are incredible and I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to make them. They are very rich and creamy, with great texture from the crispy topping, firm yet yielding lemon cream and the bursting tart blueberries in the middle of it all.
Can you still believe I have at least 3 cups of these blueberries left? I bought the small container I swear! Now what shall I do with the rest?
Blueberry Streusel Bars with Lemon Cream
Makes about 24 bars
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats(not quick oats)
- 1-1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 large egg separated
- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
- 2-1/2 cups fresh room temperature blueberries, washed and patted dry
- Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (line a 13x9 pan with foil leaving a one inch overhang and grease the foil) or grease the bottom of sides of the pan.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, salt and baking powder. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, blend the butter completely into the into the flour mixture. Transfer 2 cups of the crumb mixture to another bowl and reserve for the topping. Blend the egg white into the remaining crumbs to moisten and then press the mixture into the bottom of the pan to form a level crust. Bake the crust until it starts to form a dry top,10-12 minutes.
- Meanwhile in a medium bowl, whisk the condensed milk, lemon juice, lemon zest and egg yolk. Let this mixture stand for 5 minutes; it will begin to thicken.
- Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the hot crust and then drop spoonfuls of the lemon mixture over the blueberries. Spread gently with a spatula to distribute a little more evenly, but take care not to crush the blueberries; it’s fine if the lemon mixture isn’t perfectly even. Bake until the lemon mixture just begins to form a shiny skin, 7-8 minutes.
- Sprinkle the reserved topping over the lemon-blueberry layer, pressing the streusel between your fingers into small lumps as you sprinkle. Bake until the filling is bubbling at the edges and the topping is brown, 25-30 minutes.
- Let the bars cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into 24 bars when completely cool. The bars may be stored at room temperature for a few hours but otherwise should be kept in the refrigerator.
From: Fine Cooking Magazine June/July 2008