Saturday, June 5, 2010

52 Cookies - Chapter 22

I've written before about my Grandma Blue and her baking expertise.  When I was a kid, she would bake each of us kids any kind of pie we wanted for our birthday.  Mom took care of the cake.  Grandma baked the pie.  No request was turned down.  I always waffled between either blueberry pie or blackberry pie, always knowing that either way, she would have the berries stored up in one of her many freezers.  My birthday being in March didn't exactly provide for the opportunity to use fresh berries.  I think of my Grandma whenever I have the pleasure to eat a piece of blackberry or blueberry pie.

Staying true to my promise to bake with the seasons, I selected Blackberry Crumb Bars for this week's cookie recipe.  No, blackberries aren't quite ready for picking just yet here in central Ohio, but I got some juicy, sweet blackberries at Sam's Club the other day and they were begging to be baked in a recipe.  There weren't enough for a pie or cobbler because I had eaten too many of them on my cereal, which I had for breakfast and then again for lunch because it tasted so good!  I love cereal, especially with berries like these!

Martha shared this recipe with me and whoever else reads Everyday Food magazine, one of Ms. Stewart's many publications.  Save this one and then after you've gone berry picking, you'll have a new recipe handy to try.  My favorite local spot to pick blackberries is at Mitchell's Farm

Blackberry Crumb Bars

Here's What You'll Need:
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cup flour, divided
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
10 ounces blackberries

Here's What You Do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Take an 8 inch square metal baking pan and butter and flour the bottom and sides.  To make the topping, in a small bowl combine the melted butter, brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Add 1 cup flour and mix with a fork until crumbly.  Refrigerate the topping while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.

In a medium bowl, add the remaining 3/4 cup flour, baking powder, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Give it a whisk to combine.  In a larger bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the room-temperature butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Beat until all is light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Turn the mixer speed down to low and slowly add your flour mixture.  Scrape down the sides and then spread the batter in the bottom of your square baking pan.  Now, have some fun and sprinkle the berries evenly over the top of the batter.  These berries were huge!  Isn't it pretty?!

Now, take the crumb topping out of the fridge and carefully sprinkle it over the top.  Bake the crumb squares for 40-45 minutes.  I set the timer for 40 minutes and was convinced it was done.  I was wrong.  It should have stayed in a few more minutes.  By the time I realized my mistake, it was too late to stick it back in the oven to finish it off.  The middle was doughy and I had to cut that section out.  I hate to see good cookie go to waste.  Oh well, the alternative is seeing good cookie go to waist...MY WAIST!! 

Martha instructs to keep these at room temperature in a sealed container for up to 3 days.  First of all, these cookies won't last in my house for 3 days!  And, with all due respect to Martha's expertise, I find that recipes of this nature, with fresh fruit in them, do not hold up well at room temp and tend to get a bit soggy.  As was the case with my rhubarb bars I made earlier this spring, after the first 24 hours, it's best to store them in the fridge.  A few seconds in the microwave will make them fresh-from-the-oven warm all over again.

I ask you...Have you seen a yummier, prettier sight?!


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