Blueberry-Streusel Bars with Lemon Cream Filling

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Before the local blueberries disappear, I need to share this outstanding recipe for blueberry streusel bars.  I have yet to find a recipe involving fruit with streusel that didn’t tempt me.  Throw in a lemon cream filling, and that guaranteed me putting fresh blueberries on my shopping list.

Costco came through with Michigan blueberries in a large container at a great price, so I happily threw this together this weekend.  It makes a 9×13 pan, a quantity which is not diet friendly, but I was expecting my son to visit and I always send him home with goodies to prevent Roger and me from eating them all.

Even though there are several steps to making these bars including three separate baking periods, do not let this deter you.  Each step is fairly quick and very easy.  The presentation and taste of these delicious blueberry bars belies the ease of making them.  Despite calling for a half cup of fresh lemon juice as well as some lemon zest, it was not too lemony at all—I thought there was a perfect balance between the lemon and the sweetness of both the filling and the blueberries.

As always, I asked for feedback.  Roger gave the bars two thumbs up, and John gave his usual answer for any dessert that isn’t chocolate which is, of course, “It’s not chocolate.”  It’s his amusing way of working me so that I’ll be sure to make a chocolate dessert on his next visit.  That didn’t stop him from having seconds and taking a large portion home with him.

I timed serving dessert after supper such that the bars would still be warm.  Oh, my.  Heaven, I tell you!  Throwing all self-control out the window, we all had seconds.  Had these bars been made in an 8×8 pan, there wouldn’t have been anything left for John to take home or for me to bring in to work to pawn off on my colleagues.

The recipe instructions tell you to store the bars in the refrigerator.  The next day, I tried one straight from the refrigerator and was quite and pleasantly surprised to find that I liked them even better than the night before when they were warm.  I told Roger to try them cold, and he was of the firm opinion that they wouldn’t be as good cold as they were warm.  Well, he changed his mind very quickly once he took a bite and agreed that, counterintuitively, they were better cold.

To sum up my feelings about these frantastic blueberry bars, I am copying a reader’s review of them from the Fine Cooking website:

“SO GOOD!!!  SO good.  SO. Good.  Seriously, ridiculously, good.  Make them.”

What she said.

One year ago:  Grilled Corn and Tomato-Sweet Onion Salad with Fresh Basil Dressing

Two years ago:  Black and White Cookies

Blueberry-Streusel Bars with Lemon Cream Filling

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 cups (about 13 oz.) room-temperature blueberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a 13×9 metal baking pan with foil, leaving a slight overhang on both sides to lift the bars out.  Spray the pan/foil with cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, oats, brown sugar, salt and baking powder together in a large bowl.  Use a pastry blender (or your fingers) to cut the butter into the dry ingredients completely (in other words, until the pieces of butter aren’t visible anymore).  Set aside and reserve 2 cups of these crumbs for the topping.  Beat the egg white with a fork until broken up and foamy.  Add it to the crumbs and mix to incorporate.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press to form an even layer of crust.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the top starts to look dry.  The top will have puffed up a little bit.

Meanwhile, whisk the condensed milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolk together in a medium bowl.  Let stand for 5 minutes; the mixture will begin to thicken slightly.

When the crust has finished baking, transfer the pan to a wire rack and sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the hot crust.  Drop spoonsful of the lemon mixture over the blueberries; then spread the lemon mixture gently to distribute it.  Work carefully so you don’t crush the berries; the lemon layer doesn’t have to cover every bit of the crust.  Bake until the lemon layer begins to form a shiny skin, about 7-8 minutes.

Remove the pan to a wire rack and sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture over the lemon layer.  Use all of the crumb mixture to cover the lemon layer completely.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling at the edges and the streusel topping is golden brown.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the bars cool for about an hour, until just warm.  Remove them from the pan using the foil overhang and let cool completely on the wire rack.  Cut into squares before serving.  The bars should be stored in the refrigerator.

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Source:  A Fine Cooking recipe via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

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