Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blueberry Shortbread Bars – Please Don’t Call These Cookies

I’ve gotten a lot of shortbread requests, but haven’t done a video for it yet, since I’m not a huge fan of that particular cookie in its classic form. However, I love those little bars you see in the pastry case at the coffee shop, which feature a slightly moister shortbread base, topped with some kind of seasonal fruit.

I always wondered how they were made, and then I saw this peach shortbread post on Smitten Kitchen, which looked just like the aforementioned bars. So, I adapted that recipe, losing the egg white and switching out peaches for the very user-friendly blueberries. Besides, by adding fruit and calling them “bars,” we have something that sounds so much healthier than “cookies.”

There are no special skills required here, but you really want to get your hands on a wire pastry cutter, literally. Sure, you can dirty your food processor, but a pastry cutter will do the job quickly and easily, and you can really feel and see what’s happening in the bowl. Of course, if you’re not doing the dishes, go ahead and use the machine.

As I say in the video, any summer fruit will work, as long as you don’t use too much, and it’s not too wet. You need to have room for the crumbs on top to nestle down around the fruit to hold everything together. Also, if you roll with a particularly large entourage, you can easily double this recipe for a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 12 bars:
6 1/2 ounces (by weight) AP flour (about 1 1/2 cups of sifted flour, aka not packed)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice (or a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg)
1 stick (1/2 cup) very cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon ice water, dripped over mixture
about 3/4 cup blueberries, or enough to cover surface

View the complete recipe

45 comments:

Michael Minasian said...

Smitten Kitchen also has a blueberry crumble bar recipe which is great. I'll have to try this one!

Dennis Injaroen said...

You make it look so easy

Elias said...

These look amazing can't wait to make these cookies lol just kidding but seriously thy look awesome!

Godoy said...

Usually I use this crumble mixture to make lemmon pie. It's delicious.

Chris K. said...

I was going to post a snarky comment about "cheap tools," but after watching this recipe video I felt guilty.

Anonymous said...

Do you see any problem with fresh cherries? I have some cherries in the fridge that need used up :-)

Vincent said...

Finally, someone who dislikes tallbread as much as I do. Damn tallbreads crampin' my style.

Chef John said...

Cherries, yes. Just cut up a bit.

Madonna said...

Thank you for the weight measure, especially the flour because as you know a cup is almost always arbitrary. If I can get the flour correctly I always have a success. Thank you again for all you do.

Jay M. said...

Hey Chef, I think you posted the wrong title! The video clearly shows your 'Super Delicious Fruit Crumbly Vanilla Ice Cream Base."

I mean, if you wanna let it cool, I suppose it will work as fruit shortbread bars. You know, if you don't have some ice cream that needs something warm and fruity and crumbly to sit on.

May Ngo said...

Hi Chef John! I've made many of your recipes and have really enjoyed them all. =] I just made this recipe right now! It's mostly cooled down and tastes delicious. Thanks for the post!

cameron said...

Can you use frozen blueberries? It's winter in Australia and fresh ones are hard to come by...

MK said...

Chef John, how do you store these bars and how long do they keep good?

Chef John said...

Never tried frozen, but prob too wet for this. Not sure!

Re: shelf life, they've always been eaten in a day or two, so can't say! Just keep in tupperware

Airbnb Superhost said...

I have some frozen blackberries in the freezer...would they work? I just picked some off my plant on the patio but I don't think a 1/4 cup is enough:(
Thanks for all your recipes, videos and jokes!

Dawn (Dawn's Recipes) said...

I've made the Smitten Kitchen/Brown Eyed Baker versions with peaches many times. I made your blueberry version this morning. It was a HUGE hit with both the parents and kids at our play group! I should have doubled the recipe. I'll be sending them all a link.. The Chinese 5 Spice really adds something special. I was so glad I bought some last time I ordered from Penzeys. I've never used it before and was glad to have an excuse. The only thing I did differently was cut in the butter and egg with a food processor to spare my injured wrist. Worked beautifully!

Chef John said...

Great to hear!

cb said...

Hi Chef! Nice treat! This is close to how I make raspberry jam bars.Will try this for sure and see how the egg yolk works - thats new to me. TIP for you--after freezing your butter run it thru a box grater. Does very well for biscuits and shortbread and less cutting in is needed to get a good crumble and flakey cookie. Enjoy!

Tyson Losness said...

Is there an easy way to de-pit the cherries?

Chef John said...

check YouTube, there are tons of how-to's on that!

Airbnb Superhost said...

Chef John,
Can we use frozen fruit or would it be too wet?
Thanks in advance...

Chef John said...

never tried but prob too wet!

NatashasMom said...

Hi Chef John, this looks incredible...and only second to your eggplant parmesan which my family absolutely LOVED!

If I dont want to use the eggyolk, (we are vegetarians), can I substitute it with anything else or omit it altogether? Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Nom nom nom....clearly I couldn't wait until they were completely cool, but the crumbs are delicious too!

Peach slices and blueberries in mine...favs.

Thanks so much Chef John!

Anonymous said...

Being lazy I combined the egg yolk and cold water ingredients to make.. a whole egg! Not quite as dry as a shortbread but still oh so good.

Anders said...

I JUST took this out of my oven. I made it with fresh peaches since I find it very hard to find tasty blueberries where I'm located. My whole appartment smells of five spice. Can't wait for it to be cool enough to cut!

Anonymous said...

Can I use frozen cranberries? I have a bag sitting in my freezer. Maybe if I simmer them in syrup first? Thanks

Anonymous said...

can i use a fork to whisk/mix the ingredients in? i don't have a food processor or a pastry cutter

Brenda Stetler said...

You can use two butter knives to cut the flour and butter together, as my mother taught me.(In case you don't have a food processor or a pastry cutter).

crossmr said...

John, how could I modify this to use frozen blueberries? Fresh blueberries are around $18/lb here in South Korea, but I can get 1KG of frozen ones for about $10. I've used them in blueberry muffins without issue, but I know this kind of crumbly pastry is very sensitive to moisture..

Alice said...

You don't have to use fresh blueberries if you can't get them. Use whatever fresh fruits you have locally. But I doubt frozen fruits will be good for this recipe as Chef John mentioned previously as it'll be too wet.

I've made this several times now and they're always a big hit! I've been looking for a good shortbread recipe as I love them and finally found yours that combine two of my favs: fruits and shortbread. Thanks Chef John!

Anonymous said...

Does other berries work like strawberries or raspberry maybe? Thanks Chef.

Chef John said...

see above comments!

Kent Woo said...

Made this recipe with some fresh frozen blueberries I had (when blueberries were cheap) and they look and smell great. Can't wait for the shortbread bars to cool!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! I used Maninis GLUTEN FREE all-purpose flour and it turned out perfect. I also used FROZEN blackberries we had picked last year and it wasn't soggy, but I didn't give them barely a moment to defrost and release their juices, similar to baking a pie with frozen fruit, work that part quickly! and Chef John, your tip about freezing the chopped butter is fantastic! Thank you. ~Michelle

dfsdf said...

Can I use frozen blueberry... Here in UAE we dont get the fresh ones...

dfsdf said...

Can I use frozen blueberries? I am from Middle East .. We dont get the fresh ones here...
Jazmine

Tyson Hagos said...

Can i use an 8 inch dish or is that a big no no?

Robin said...

I am allergic to peaches and was wondering how to switch the recipe from Smitten Kitchen up. You did the work for me. Thanks muchly!

Tianyu said...

Hi Chef John,

Mine came out to be delicious!

Although I had a hard time cutting the whole piece into smaller ones, even after cooling at room temp over night. I was kind of hard and pieces broke off a bit. Any suggestions? Or maybe I baked it for too long, or something wrong when I made it?

Also, how do you suggest to keep the left over, in the fridge?

Thank you!!
-Helen

Tianyu said...

Hi Chef John,

Mine came out to be delicious!

Although I had a hard time cutting the whole piece into smaller ones, even after cooling at room temp over night. I was kind of hard and pieces broke off a bit. Any suggestions? Or maybe I baked it for too long, or something wrong when I made it?

Also, how do you suggest to keep the left over, in the fridge?

Thank you!!

Chef John said...

Sorry, I'm really not sure! Maybe baked a little long?

Where's My Life Gone? said...

Hi Chef John,

I just made this and boy, it's delicious! I do have one question tho.... My berries did not "split/spill/melt" like yours. I kept it in the oven for a bit longer, thinking that would do the trick, but it made no difference. Like I said, it's still delicious. Just don't know why my blueberries didn't split. Granted, I did modify the recipe.... and used Sugar blend instead of plain sugar, so overall I only used 1/4 cup instead of 1/2 a cup of sugar.

Do you think it was the sugar that prevented the berries from "popping" properly?

Thanks again for all your awesome videos! It's made me cook more frequently because you've made it seem so much easier to do!

Chef John said...

Could have, but not sure! Sorry! :)

quix4ver said...

I made these the exact way as the video said and they were good. But the next time around I changed it up a bit. I added a few drops of vanilla to the ice water ( I needed about a tablespoon of water). I added a tablespoon of brown sugar to the remaining mixture ( that goes on top of the berries ) Became like a proper crumb topping. I also did a mix of blueberries ans blackberries. Was delish. Better than the original IMO. Thanks chef John. Love your recipes!