The Best 4th of July Dessert: Red White & Blue Bars
I fell in love with a raspberry bar cookie at the Rancho Bernardo Inn outside San Diego, CA last year. I searched for recipes, never finding “the one” and instead cobbled together this winning combination. It’s part shortbread cookie, part fruit tart, part fruit crumble and all delicious! I make my own blueberry jam and have included the very easy recipe, but you can substitute blackberry jam or whatever blue fruit jam you can find.
- 2 c. All-purpose flour
- 1 c. Sugar
- 1/4 t. Salt
- 2 sticks Butter, softened
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 c. White chocolate morsels
- 1 10 oz. Jar seedless raspberry preserves
- 1 recipe Blueberry jam, recipe follows
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. If desired, cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the width of the pan plus several inches to act as handles for easy removal. (I like to cut bar cookies on a cutting board to save my baking pan from being scored by a knife.)
- Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer on low speed, blend in the butter just until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Remove 1 heaping cup of the crumbles and set aside. Add the eggs to the remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until it forms a dough that holds together.
- Press the dough firmly and evenly in the bottom of the prepared ban. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack 15 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine the reserved crumbles and the white chocolate morsels.
- Spread raspberry preserves in an even layer over the partially cooled cookie base, leaving a ½ inch border. (You may not use the entire jar.) Spoon about ½ c. of the blueberry preserves over the raspberry and spread evenly. Top the cookie with the crumble/morsel mixture in an even layer.
- Bake another 25 to 30 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely in the pan. Remove the cookie whole from the pan using the parchment handles; cut into 20 even pieces. (Alternatively, cut the cookie while still in the pan.)
Easy Blueberry Jam
To make blueberry jam, combine 1 pint blueberries (washed and drained), 1 c. sugar, ½ of a Granny Smith apple (peeled, cored and finely chopped) and the juice and zest of 1 lemon in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Skim off any foam that forms on the top of the mixture. Allow to boil, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 25 minutes. (The mixture will settle down and begin to thicken. When done, very little liquid will remain and it will look like jam!) Transfer to a small bowl and cool completely at room temperature. The jam will thicken upon standing.
In case you're wondering why apple is added to blueberry jam, it's because of pectin. Pectin is a natural thickener that is used in all fruit jam, jellies and preserves. Apples are an excellent source of pectin, and are more likely to be on your shopping list than a jar of commercial pectin. Plus, the other half of the apple not used in the recipe makes an excellent cook's snack.