Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blueberry-Almond Bars

Whew. Just a little time has passed! I'd like to claim lots has happened, but mostly it's just been work work work. Good stuff, but we're here for the food, and we all know it. ;)

Food then! I present Blueberry Curd and Almond Cream bars. They take some work, but oh goodness, they're addicting. There's just one other recipe I've had more requests for - this one even passed the One-Bowl Brownies! I can't say I'm surprised though, for a non-chocolate dessert these are stunning. They start out with a layer of almond shortbread, flavored with cinnamon and lemon. A layer of almond cream, flavored with liquor, makes up the middle. The crowning glory is a layer of homemade blueberry curd. Just... yum.

The recipe is an adaptation, but after a year I'm afraid the link has vanished from my records. Once again recipe gods, please give my thanks to your acolyte!

Blueberry Almond Bars

* 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup ground toasted almonds
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon salt

Almond cream:
* 1/4 cup pure almond paste (2 ounces)
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
* 1 egg
* 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Blueberry curd:
* 1 pint blueberries
* 2 eggs
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* Pinch of salt
* 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly butter an 8x8" baking dish.

Crust: To make the shortbread, combine the butter, flour, almonds, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt until small lumps form. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom. Bake until the shortbread is golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Almond cream: Purée almond paste, granulated sugar, butter, and a pinch of salt in a food processor until smooth. Add 1 egg, vanilla, and almond extract and purée until incorporated. Add flour and pulse until incorporated.

Blueberry curd: In a food processor or blender, puree the blueberries until smooth. Pass the puree through a chinois set over a bowl, using a pestle to press on the solids and extract as much juice as possible; discard the solids. You should have about 1/2 cup juice.

In the top pan of a double boiler or in a nonreactive saucepan, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until blended. Then whisk in the blueberry juice, salt, and lemon juice. Set the top pan over but not touching simmering water in the bottom pan, or set the saucepan over medium-low heat. (If using a saucepan, take care not to heat the mixture too quickly.) Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula or spoon, until the mixture is warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Begin adding the butter a little at a time, stirring each addition until blended before adding more. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan, until a finger drawn across the back of the spatula leaves a path, 8 to 10 minutes more. Immediately remove the pan from the heat. Pass the curd through the chinois set over a bowl and let stand for 10 minutes. Whisk to blend.

Assembly: Pour the almond cream over the cooled crust and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven then pour the curd on top, spreading it evenly to the edges. There may be some blending of the almond cream and the blueberry - no worries.

Bake until the curd is set, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into individual bars, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Dust the bars with confectioners’ sugar before serving.