Cookie Carnival: Blackberry Almond Bars
I'll be honest, when I got the email stating the recipe for July was Blackberry Almond Bars, I wasn't exactly thrilled. Hot Fruit? Blackberries? What's a chinois set? Will my blender work in place of a food processor? (A Food Processor is on my Christmas List for this year.) Even though I wasn't too keen on the recipe, I still wanted to participate. I mean part of the reason I joined this event was to try new things. A girl can only bake so many chocolate and peanut butter goodies.
Ever since I tried Katie's fabulous Juicy Strawberry Scones, hot fruit doesn't gross me out like it used to or I would have totally passed on this. I don't like Blackberries (actually the only berry I like is a Strawberry), so I decided to mess around with the recipe a bit. I was kind of concerned the strawberry and almond flavors wouldn't go together, but the taste blends quite well.
I'm really glad I decided to participate because when I tried one, my first thought was HOLY CRAP! These actually turned out! They are EXCELLENT! I can't wait to make them for a group of people sometime. These are certain to be a crowd-pleaser.
Strawberry Almond Bars
Adapted from: Williams-Sonoma
For the shortbread:
* 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup ground toasted almonds
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 tsp. salt
For the strawberry curd:
* 1 lb strawberries
* 4 eggs
* 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
* Pinch of salt
* 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
* 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room
temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch cake pan.
To make the shortbread, in the bowl of a food processor, (used my blender) combine the butter, flour, almonds, granulated sugar and salt and process 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.
Meanwhile, make the strawberry curd: In a food processor or blender, puree the strawberries 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 3/4 cup juice. I skipped the whole chinois part of the step and just used the pureed strawberries, I ended up with about 1 and 1/4 cup.
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 strawberry puree, (I used about 1 cup) 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. (again, skipped the chinios and just let the mixture stand) Whisk to blend, then pour the curd over the shortbread, spreading it evenly to the edges.
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.
Makes 20 bars.
Thank you Kate for choosing this recipe. I love it. Be sure to check out Cookie Carnival to see the original recipe and entries from other bloggers!