Blackberry Crumble Bars

From www.foodfanatic.com, by Stacey Mebs
Blackberry Crumble Bars

Blackberry Crumble Bars Photo

Have you ever gone blackberry picking? I don't know how many places blackberries actually grow. I know they don't grow where I live in Alberta, but they do grow on Vancouver Island where my in-laws live. Since we are lucky enough to head out to the island every summer for our family vacation, I have been introduced to picking blackberries over the last few years.

Now, I'll say first that I am no novice to berry picking. My grandparents had a huge garden with truckloads of raspberries, so growing up we went raspberry picking every year. I feel like I did a ton of raspberry picking (to which I'm sure my mother and aunts would all scoff and say that I actually did a ton of raspberry eating) but still — I've picked my fair share of berries.

Blackberry Crumble Bars Picture

But I have learned that blackberry picking is nothing like raspberry picking. They're both thorny plants, but my goodness, raspberry bushes aren't dangerous. You get poked a bit, but it's really not a big deal to force your way into the middle of the bush to get the good ones. Blackberry plants are out to get you. It's like taking your life in your hands trying to get that juicy, beautiful berry in the middle of the bush. Heck, past the first leaf. The leaves even have thorns! How crazy is that?

Blackberry Crumble Bars Image

I swear I had thorns in every finger by the time I picked 2 1/2 cups of berries to make these bars. And I wasn't even eating them while picking! Clearly I've gotten older and have more self-control now — or I just couldn't get to any more berries without losing a hand. We'll go with the first one.

At any rate, totally worth it, because blackberry crumble bars made with blackberries that have just been picked may just be the best treat around. These bars were absolutely amazing. A crisp shortbread crust, jammy blackberry filling, and a brown sugar and oatmeal crumble topping. They were fantastic. Pretty sure I'll be taking my chances and picking more blackberries next summer, just so I can make these bars again.

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Ingredients
For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into 8 pieces

For the Streusel:

  • reserved crust mixture, 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

For the Filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups blackberries, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides, and lightly grease the foil. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor or stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. With the mixer running, add the butter, one piece at a time. Process for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture resembles damp sand.
  3. Remove 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of this mixture and set aside in a medium bowl for the streusel.
  4. Press the remaining crumb mixture into the prepared pan, packing it down as tightly and evenly as possible. Bake for 14-18 minutes or until just beginning to brown on the edges.
  5. While the crust is baking, prepare the streusel and the filling. For the streusel, add the brown sugar and rolled oats to the reserved crumbs and stir to combine. Add the butter and use your hands to rub the butter into the crumb mixture, squeezing handfuls of the crumbs together so that it clumps into hazelnut-size lumps. Set aside.
  6. For the filling, toss together the blackberries, sugar, flour, and lemon juice in a medium bowl until combined.
  7. Spread the filling on top of the hot crust. Spread the streusel evenly across the filling. Bake the bars for 25-30 minutes, until the streusel is golden brown and the filling is bubbling around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan (1-2 hours) before lifting out by the foil overhang and slicing into bars.
  8. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. The bars are best the first day, after that the shortbread crust starts to soften.

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Source:
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book.