Fruit, fruit, fruit! Summer fruit is everywhere, and I have a countertop strewn with plums, peaches, and nectarines to prove it. I snack on it constantly, all day long helping myself to whatever is the ripest and most alluring at the moment. A juicy apricot here, some raspberries there. When it's perfect, fruit needs little in the way of ornament (but some sour cream or creme fraiche never hurts.)
I particulary go nuts for sour cherries, though they are too tart for out of hand nibbling. Instead, for the last few weeks I’ve been pitting them and preserving them in various and sundry ways; homemade Maraschino cherries (just perfect in a good, Rye Manhattan) are a must in my household, but so is good jam.
Homemade jam is a great way to enjoy summer goodness, all year long. Spread on toast, in between the layers of a lovely cake, or simply spooned over vanilla ice cream, you’ll thank yourself later when you’ve got some homemade jam on hand.
I’ve got a shiva call to pay this weekend (my friend's grandpa died at 101, he was a marvel, and will be missed), and have been thinking about what to bring. Since I had an abundance of blueberries in my fridge, I decided to make a dessert that would incorporate them.
I thought tender little shortbread cookie bars spread with a homemade blueberry jam (and topped with a buttery cinnamon-spiced crumble topping) would be just the thing.
Easy to share, easy to transport…and shortbread is a cinch to make.
Blueberry Crumble Shortbread Bars
For the jam:
1 pint blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar
Zest from one large lemon
Small cinnamon stick
Juice from half a lemon, more to taste
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cubed
For the crumble:
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1. To make the jam, in a small saucepan, add blueberries, sugar, and lemon zest and mash berries slightly with the back of a large spoon, just to release some of their juices. Add cinnamon stick and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick and allow jam to cool. Taste and add lemon juice.
2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until mixture just comes together in one ball. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until crust is pale golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool. Spread the blueberry jam evenly over the shortbread.
3. To make the crumble, in a small bowl, whisk together the oats, sugar, walnuts, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Blend in the butter with your fingertips, forming pea-sized crumbs. Sprinkle the streusel over the blueberry sauce. Bake until topping is golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.