Gourmandistan

Blackberry bounty brings some beautiful blackberry bars

It has been a banner year for wild blackberries in Gourmandistan. We had enough for several batches of blackberry jam plus some blackberry cobblers (including several cups frozen for a future cobbler at Michelle’s mother’s request). Even after Steve spent many mornings gleaning the patch, there are still more berries available should he feel like hiking out to get them. (He will most likely hike out to get them.)

With this sort of surplus available, Steve has been urging Michelle to make whatever she feels like with the fruit. One attempt was an old-fashioned blackberry cake from a 1940s newspaper recipe, which was both dry and lacking in blackberry flavor. Facing another batch of berries occupying space in our summer-crowded refrigerator, Michelle decided to twist this Alice Medrich recipe a bit further with blackberry juice and blackberry jam instead of lemon and apricot, and the results were outstanding.

The bars are jammy and buttery, and an excellent way to enjoy this summer of so many berries. We have already decided, should Steve’s future efforts yield even more blackberries, to press their juice and freeze it for the colder months ahead. Most likely a little blackberry treat mid-winter will be most appreciated.

BLACKBERRY BARS

  • Servings: one 8 x 8-inch pan, about 16 bars
  • Print

(adapted from Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies)

Crust:

  • 3/4 c. + 2 TB flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 c. toasted almonds
  • 1 stick (8 TB) butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Topping:

  • 2 c. blackberries, preferably wild ones
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 TB flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. strained blackberry jam
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Position an oven rack in the lower part of the oven.  Preheat to 350° F.  Line an 8 x 8″ pan with foil.

Make crust as follows:  Place flour, sugar, salt and nuts in a food processor.  Pulse until nuts are finely ground, then add melted butter and vanilla.  Continue pulsing until mixture begins to form clumps. Remove dough and press evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake crust for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove from oven and reduce heat to 300° F.

While crust is baking, gently warm berries in a saucepan. Mash with a potato masher. Strain juice through a fine-meshed sieve. You should have about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of juice.

Mix sugar and flour together in a large bowl.  Then, stir in eggs.  Add jam, then 1/3 cup of the blackberry juice.

Pour filling over crust.  Return to oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes longer, until filling is set.

Cool completely in pan on a cooling rack.  Then, lift out using the foil liner.  Cut into squares.  Sift powdered sugar over.

These freeze well, and are delicious right out of the freezer.

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23 comments

  1. good timing: I m off this week end to collect blackberries…
    two questions, please: a) which Mendrich’s recipe it is derived from? and b) how do u get that sort of lovely fading outlines in your pics? (I am pretty sure u have already answered some questions on your blog, but I cannot find them) thanks a lot. ciao, stefano

    • 1) The Medrich recipe is one for lemon bars that has apricot jam in it. I just went blackberry all the way. 2) The smart phone editing app, Snapseed. Which I love and wish was available for a real computer. Enjoy your week off!

  2. Yum! I haven’t done any berry picking tgis year and i really don’t know why. I tried to grow a few strawberries, that was a disastet. It is just too hot, maybe? The weather lately has been 115° with the heat index.

  3. I grew up on Vancouver Island, Canada, where blackberry rambles are as big as mobile homes (just a slight exaggeration) and grew everywhere – roadsides, beaches, over fences, in ditches, in gardens. They took over fields and their prickles could maim. But some of my best childhood memories are of blackberry picking and eating the pies my mom made using a similar process in your recipe. Blackberry puree pie topped with fresh whip cream. Lord thunderin’ – some good! Blackberries don’t grow well in Ontario and when you buy them in the grocery store they don’t taste right to me. What I’d give for a bite of your treat!

    • We’ve got some about that big, I think! They are a danger though, with those awful thorns and all the critters that live within. But in a good year, so delicious. And you’re so right about the cultivated ones. They’re just not good. And those huge centers… Yuck.

  4. These are beautiful! Where is this patch? We used to have these in our front yard growing up, along with wild strawberries, but my parents are city folk and didn’t encourage us to pick things off bushes or the ground and eat them (we did it anyway after watching our neighbors, unbeknownst to them). I thought the top was chocolate at first, but these look decadant using the seasonal berries. Creative and delicious!

    • Ah, not too many on our property, but we’re surrounded by open land. 10 or so acres just south of us that has been for sale forever is where Steve’s current trove is found. Years ago, the 200 or so acres behind us was perfect because neighbors would mow paths for horseback riding and the side benefit was it made it perfect for blackberry picking! (It’s used mostly for hunting now and they don’t mow like that anymore. Too bad…) And thanks!

    • Thanks, Mimi. They were quite good. If I do them again, I’ll probably add a little lemon juice to the filling, but I was afraid of it masking the blackberry flavor.

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