Monday, August 3, 2009

[Cookie 031] Blueberry Bonanza Bars

Blueberry Bonanza Bars

Salutations, readers. To commence round 3, I am obligated to pick up from where I left off in round 2 of this monumental quest in cookie baking. You might remember that things weren't so great between me and The Book when we left off, after recipe #30--the Pistachio Lemon Drops--which I found to be so sweet and inedible that I was unable to present them to the people I had chosen to make them for. So, with about a dozen of these sugar-laden oddities sitting quietly in an old tupperware box, untouched by human hands (save for my mom's), I decided to get onto making a different cookie to give to my brother and his girlfriend as a house warming present. One that would keep well in their new refrigerator, be easy to eat between only 2 people, and of course be better tasting than the previous ones I had made.

Eggs and Vanilla, for Blueberry Bonanza Bars
Honey, Honey

I perused The Book with great concentration, keeping in mind that my brother doesn't like chocolate (yeah, yeah, I know), and also keeping in mind that I had a bunch of sweetened shredded coconut in the fridge. I kept flipping back and forth between several recipes but decided that a bar recipe would be great for the two of them, especially because bars are a great type of cookie to give, seeing as they are easily transportable, sturdy, and Martha has a good record of coming up with excellent recipes of them.

Ground Toasted Almonds
Pokin' the Crust for Blueberry Bonanza Bars Blueberry Bonanza Bars

So Blueberry Bonanza Bars it was! I'm not going to lie, the recipe is rather involved, but the results are really really good. Like most bar recipes, you have to make a shortbread crust first and half bake it before covering it with whatever other things the recipe calls for. Fortunately, Martha has you use a food processor to incorporate the cold butter into the flour (as opposed to her hair-brained idea of using a cheese grater) and the crust is otherwise very simple to make. But as the crust is either in the fridge or in the oven, you have to work on making the Almond-Coconut Granola, which is time consuming. Of course, if you want, you can use store-bought granola, but why cut corners right? Anyway, making your own granola is kinda fun and gives you a lot of self-satisfaction once you finish.

Homemade Almond-Coconut Granola
Jelly for the Blueberry Bonanza Bars

Anyway, one glitch I encountered was that the recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of Blueberry jam, and I only had about 1 cup of Blackberry jam. Obviously the flavor difference didn't matter (I prefer Blackberry anyway), but I actually thought that using only 1 cup of jam was perfect. Any more would have been too much, in my opinion, and from the looks of the photograph in The Book, it would have made the bars too sweet and too gooey.

Jell-ay for Blueberry Bonanza Bars

Other than that, everything went according to plans. Keep an eye on the bars after you add the granola, because since you've already partially browned the granola on its own before adding it to the actual bars, you don't want it to get burnt.

So did they like it? Yeah, I believe they did. Plus, the cookies are very tasty as a breakfast treat and look very purdy indeed.

Blueberry Bonanza Bars

Blueberry Bonanza Bars
Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , cold, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberry jam
  • Almond-Coconut Granola

Directions
  1. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with foil, allowing a 2-inch overhang. Coat with cooking spray. Set aside. (Note: I just buttered up a Le Creuset baking dish without the foil, and it worked fine.)
  2. Process almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; pulse to combine. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Lightly beat egg, egg yolk, and vanilla in a small bowl. With processor running, add egg mixture; process just until clumps form. Pat dough into bottom of dish; refrigerate until firm and cold, about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until edges are golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
  5. Spread jam over crust; top with granola. Bake until jam is bubbling and granola topping is browned, about 30 minutes. Let cool on wire rack. Lift out, and cut into 2-inch squares. Bars can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 day, or frozen up to 1 week.
****

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 3.5/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 2.5/5
Tastiness: 4/5 (Shortbread + Jam + Granola = Best "Breakfast"!)
Attractiveness: 4/5 (Quite cute, in fact)
Is it worth it?: Yes! If you have the time, you'll feel very proud once you finish them.

{Pairings}
Drink: A big cup o' coffee
Song: Jive Jam -- Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington
Activity: Enjoying a nice early morning breakfast on your back porch

10 comments:

Kim said...

What a unique cookie! I haven't bought Martha's cookie book yet, but this one is almost convincing me to! I love blueberries and these sound unique and fantastic. Plus, you could almost convince yourself that these are actually healthy :)

Miakoda said...

Aww, sweet of you to make something so gorgeous for your brother, it really does look very inviting :)

Fatty said...

I also have the book (love it!) and am making the same journey (but not blogging it). Curious... are you sure it's okay to reprint Martha's recipes w/o authorization? Copyright laws and all.
Your pictures look great! Must be fun tasting all the testing.

jfklds said...

sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet

Patricia Scarpin said...

I love bar cookies, even though I don't bake them much. And with this combo of flavors, Lizzie, these are irresistible!

Liesl said...

I love that cookbook! Everyone is making recipes from it! These bars look fantastic!

Kevin said...

These bars sound really good whichever jam you use.

Order Meds said...

Wow. These are really good. Meh. Maybe I could start practicing making them so I can give them away for Christmas..

Lizzie said...

Kim- You should definitely buy the book! If not for the huge amount of great recipes (like this one), then for the brilliant way it's organized and laid out.

Miakoda- Why thank you! I try to be a nice sister, occasionally.

FattyChow- Yeah, I definitely had to consider all the legalities of posting the recipes, but I figured it was okay as long as it was already on the MarthaStewart.com website, which they are. What I do is I type in the name of the recipe that I'm posting about, and if the recipe is listed on the website, I just copy/paste it! If it's not there, I don't put it on my blog. Anyway, I'd love to hear about your adventures with the book too! If you come across anything interesting, do let me know!

Patricia- I had never really made bar cookies (aside from brownies) before this book. Martha has enlightened me!

Liesl- It's such an awesome cookbook! Thanks!

Kevin- Yeah, you really can't go wrong with any choice of jam. I was just thinking about how amazing it would be with a currant jam, especially if it was homemade!

Order Meds (?)- These would be great for christmas, especially because they are sorta summery tasting, but don't require any ingredient that you can't find in the winter! It would be a nice change from the usual spicey, gingery xmas cookie.

Karine said...

These bars looks delicious! Thanks for sharing your recipe!