Hey guys! I have a deep dark secret to tell ya'll – I'm not the biggest pie fan (cue shameful scorning). Don't get me wrong, the buttery crusts are delicious, and I'm always the first one to dig into the pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but the majority of pies, filled with all that cooked fruit, has never set well with me. I would try and explain this nonsense to you, but I know it wouldn't do me any good; the confused look will never leave your face. The best way to clarify myself is to say that I would rather have an ooey-gooey, undercooked, triple chocolate brownie any day – that's just the kind of gal I am.
Fast-forward to married life and my being paired with a man who would almost always go for apple pie a 'la mode, and you'll understand the picture above. I've sworn off fruit pies for so long that I finally decided it's time to make my peace. I figured, if I love my husband as much as I say i do, I would make this sacrifice.
My first go had me making an apple crisp (extra crisp just in case). I really enjoyed the process, especially baking it in my cast iron skillet. I also didn't mind the result. David applauded me and that was enough to set my sights higher.
Lately, my farm box has been presenting me with blackberries and apples – here was my chance. I entered "blackberry apple dessert" into the search bar of Pinterest. After a bit of clicking and searching through different variations of tarts and pies, I found my perfect match - shortbread bars. I've always loved those jam-filled tea cookies and these looked like an advance version. How could I not love them? Plus, these were infused with rosemary – yum!
Recipe found at: Desserts for Breakfast
Berry, Apple, and Rosemary Shortbread Bars
makes one 9 x 13" pan, about 24 squares
adapted from Epicurious, via smitten kitchen
4 cups (560 gr) flour
2 tspn baking powder
1/4 tspn salt
1 1/2 tspn freshly grated lemon zest
2 - 4 Tbspn fresh rosemary, finely chopped*
4 sticks (1 lb.) butter
2 cups (400 gr) sugar
4 egg yolks
330 gr crisp tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (note: an average-size apple is about 100 gr)
1 tspn lemon juice
2 tspn sugar
1 tspn flour
1 cup blackberry + wild blueberry jam
powdered sugar, optional
1. Make the shortbread. Whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, and chopped rosemary. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, cream the butter until light. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the egg yolks to the butter and sugar one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix.
5. Divide the shortbread dough in half. Wrap each half in parchment paper or plastic wrap and freeze until hard, at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13" baking pan with foil, leaving overhang at the sides.
7. Prepare the filling. Toss the chopped apples, lemon juice, sugar, and flour together and let sit for a few minutes.
8. Heat the jam briefly until it reaches a somewhat liquid, spreadable consistency.
9. Remove half of the shortbread dough from the freezer. Grate using a coarse grater or the grater plate of a food processor. Spread the grated dough evenly over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
10. Spoon the jam over the first layer of shortbread dough and distribute the apple chunks in one layer on the jam.
11. Remove the second half of the dough from the freezer and grate. Pour the grated dough evenly over the jam and apple layer.
12. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the edges and top are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
13. Using the foil, lift the shortbread out of the pan. If using, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into squares.
Note: for a strong rosemary taste, use up to 4 Tbspn of chopped rosemary. For a more subtle rosemary flavor, use just 2 Tbspn.
I went for the middle road and used around 3 tbspn rosemary. (It definitely had a strong flavor but I think it was perfect!)
Blackberry and Wild Blueberry Jam
makes about one cup of jam
loosely adapted from Blue Chair Fruit
125 gr wild blueberries (1/2 cup blueberries)
195 gr blackberries (1 cup blackberries)
17 gr freshly squeezed lemon juice (a hefty tablespoon of lemon juice)
160 gr sugar (a little under 3/4 cup sugar)
1. Place a few spoons on a plate in the freezer.
2. Mix the berries together in a bowl and add the lemon juice. Let sit for a few minutes to macerate. Divide the berries in half, and set half aside.
3. In a non-reactive saucepan over medium low heat, combine half of the berries with the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the juices run. Increase heat to medium high until the berries boil. Boil for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add the remaining berries. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and stir every thirty seconds or so. Cook for 10-15 minutes more, testing for doneness after 10 minutes.
5. To test for doneness, remove the pan from the stove. Retrieve a spoon from the freezer and scoop a small amount of liquid and berries. Return the spoon to the freezer for a few minutes. Once cooled, hold the spoon vertically. If the jam does not run off the spoon and is a thick, spreadable consistency, the jam is done. If not, return the pan to the stove and continue to cook for a few more minutes before testing again.
6. Cool the jam completely, preferably overnight in an airtight container in the refrigerator, before using in the following recipe.
I had a bunch of blackberries that needed to be eaten up, so I didn't bother buying blueberries. I'm sure they would have been lovely!
I didn't even need to put the jam in the freezer, it hardened up right away – probably because my jam was fully blackberries.
Have an empty jar handy. It's much more fun to transfer your homemade jam into a cute, screw-top jar than into a tupperware – makes you feel all professional and what not!
I wasn't sure what "coarsely grated" meant. I looked it up and found it was just the typical grate size used for shredded cheese. You can see in the above picture that the pieces of dough are very small .
It will seem like there isn't enough jam to cover the surface of dough. Do your best to spread it out. You'll find after biting into the cooked result that there is actually the perfect amount.
The pictures of the end result were taken in the evening so they didn't turn out very well – basically it looked like a big crumbly cake. I cut the large pan into individual bars, wrapped them in parchment paper, and fastened them on with twine, for no other reason than because it was just too cute not to.
I will be repeating this recipe next week as they have been so enthusiastically requested for the holiday celebrations. The things I will be focusing on and altering this time round will be:
- Dough - I let this batch sit in the freezer the minimum amount last time; this time I will give it overnight as recommended (patience is a virtue) I believe my dough didn't cook properly because of this mistake
- Jam - I'm going to use blueberries this time instead of just blackberries
- Foil Lining - My foil broke when I tried to pick up the bars last time; I'm going to add an extra layer or two this time round
- Cooling - I was too excited to let them cool properly last time; this time I'm finding a distraction for the waiting period
I highly recommend this treat! It's fun working with recipes that have interesting flavor combinations. If you're wanting to branch out in your baking, try this one out!