Berry Jam & Walnut Bars

September 12, 2010

 

Categories:
Cookies, Dough & Desserts, Fall, Recipes, Seasons, Spring, Summer, Winter


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If you want to make nice, make these. It’s amazing how people will fall for dessert in the morning if you tell them what they want to hear. In this case, “Jam.” Muffins are one of my favorite modes of deception (un-frosted cupcakes), although bars are equally versatile. If you added chocolate or toffee, your slab of shortbread is distinctly dessert–just as if you added cream cheese frosting to the top of a carrot-muffin, and made it a miniature carrot cake. But when you opt for jam or curd, suddenly shortbread is breakfast. This is where the British are ahead of us: they at least give these sweets their own due pause at 4pm. If Americans took tea more seriously, these bars would be the perfect partner. But since jam is hardly appropriate after dinner, these must be eaten on their own, or with coffee, first thing upon waking.

When I ate mine, (the rest were sent to Christopher’s office) I paired it with Earl Grey in the afternoon. It was dignified and much more elegant than the bowl of oats I eat every morning. That said, the humble gruel sustains me for hours: this snack had me drooling for more in minutes. These bars are heaven on earth. Have I mentioned how much I like the saying, “The kingdom of God is within” ? When I ate my jammy-nutty-buttery tea-time dessert, I was filled with something holy.

BlueberryBars

It’s not just the flavor that makes these remarkable, it’s the way they react to the teeth. As you bite, this is what you feel: a crunch from the walnuts, followed by the enduring chewiness of baked jam. As you chew, your mouth is filled with the commingling of melting butter crust and dissolving fruit. It’s a tactile paradise. Something worth getting up for, or the perfect way to punctuate the doldrums between lunch and dinner. Just make sure to give most of them away, or you’ll end up eating every last crumb, and nobody wants a stomach ache in the morning. Or in the afternoon.

Borrowed from Gourmet, may it rest in peace.

Makes 12 bars.

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup berry jam or preserves, such as Bonne Maman Four Fruits Preserve
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (3 oz)

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Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line with 1 sheet of foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 opposite sides, then butter foil.

Blend flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor.

Add butter and pulse until mixture crumbles and has pearl-sized lumps.

Add yolks and vanilla and pulse quickly, just until dough clumps, about 30 seconds.

Press 3/4 of dough evenly onto bottom of pan, then spread with jam.

Crumble remaining dough over preserves and press down so dough is evenly distributed. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Bake until top is golden brown and jam bubbles up the sides, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Place pan on a rack to cool. Lift from pan by grasping both ends of foil.

Cut into 12 bars and lift bars off foil with a spatula.

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