Berry Crumble Bar Cookies

A buttery short crust with hints of cinnamon and the hearty flavor of toasted oats cradling an ooey tart-sweet center of jam.  Perfect for picnics, lunchboxes or a random Monday afternoon.

The first time I made these cookies was for a winery tour of Virginia that was a gift for my mother.  Since she’s not a huge chocolate fan (yes, please read my last post re: her world-famous chocolate cake … go figure … I digress) and needed to be portable (read sturdy), I went hunting for a bar cookie recipe.  This is an amalgamation of several I came across so apologies for not sharing the lineage.  I proudly dub this’n a mutt cookie.  And we all know mutts are the best…. no pomp or pretense… just good stuff.

GO TO RECIPE

Before I get to the recipe deets, just a quick note to say that this cookie is adaptable to any jam.  If you aren’t into berries, apricot will do just fine.  And as I type, I am thinking that a trial with Nutella may be pure genius.  If you get to that before I do, PLEASE post a note in the comments section.

Onward and upward!

Gather your ingredients.  Make sure the butter is room temperature.  If you are a skilled microwaver, feel free.  I always get a melty spot which translates into a greasy cookie.  You have been warned.  Make sure you are using old fashioned oats, not quick cooking.  Honestly, I’ve got no idea if the quick-cooking would make a huge difference but having never used them, I’m not steering you astray.  Also, the jam has to be a good brand.  Something too sugary will take away from the fruity flavor.  If you’ve got homemade, by all means … and then please share with me.

This really is is a no-fail cookie.  Please don’t try to prove me wrong; you’ll just look silly.  Put the ingredients into the mixer, turn it to low, and let it go for 2 minutes.  If you’ve put the dry ingredients in first, you shouldn’t even need to scrap the bowl.  The crumbs should be loose but able to hold together when squeezed.

A parchment “sling” is one piece that is the width of the pan crossed underneath by one that is merely there to pick up the bars.  If you’ve got the sling, you don’t need to butter the pan.  This also makes removal infinitely easier.  Put about two-thirds of the crumbs into the pan and press evenly, making sure to get into the corners as well.  Give a bit of a lip all around to contain the cooking jam which, given the opportunity, will travel.

Spread the jam over the pressed crumbs, staying away from the edge. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs evenly over the jam and very (very!) gently pat them evenly around the pan.  A heavy hand will cause to jam squish out which will burn and then will stick to the pan and then will require you eat the whole mess right out of the pan and not be able to share. [wink, wink]

The hardest part is waiting to cut into the cookies.  If you need incentive to wait, jam burns are wickedly painful and long-lasting.  Again, you have been warned (said in my most dire Vincent Price voice). Once cooled, gently grab all four tabs of the sling and pull straight up out of the pan and onto a cutting board.  Cut into sizes that suit you and enjoy.  These are great make-ahead cookies.  Just bake, cut when cool, and store in an air-tight container or put back into the pan covered with plastic wrap.

Oh, and they are really delicious with ice cream.  Then again, what isn’t.

BERRY CRUMBLE BAR COOKIE
2 sticks (8 oz/1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup Old Fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or ¼ tsp table salt)
1 egg
1 13-oz jar berry jam (I use Bonne Maman)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment criss-crossed to act as a sling.  If you don’t have parchment, liberally butter the pan.  *You can use a 9-inch square pan if you want a thinner bar and start checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

Into the bowl of a mixer, add all of the ingredients EXCEPT THE JAM, starting with the dry. Using the paddle attachment, mix at low speed until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  This generally takes me 2 minutes on speed 2 of my KitchenAid mixer.

Press about 2/3rds of the crumbs into the lined baking pan, pushing a tiny lip around the edges to prevent jam escape.

Spoon the jam into the middle of the pressed crumbs and spread to about ½ from the raised edges.  Sprinkle the remaining third of the crumbs over the jam, very lightly patting to even it out… don’t press hard or the jam will squish out.

Bake until lightly browned.  It takes my oven 50 minutes but start checking at about 40 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Once completely cooled, cut into 9 to 16 bars.

Please let me know what you think

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