Tasty blueberry cookie bars
Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado high country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.I hate to admit it, but these cookies are proof: I’m a sucker for a pretty dessert. These treats are quite tasty but they aren’t particularly attractive. So, lacking good looks, I was going to deny them a place in this column. After several friends and family members admonished me and strongly recommended that the recipe be published, I changed my mind. They really are delicious-a shortbread base covered with blueberries and cream cheese. They’re almost like a blueberry cheesecake, but are much quicker and easier to make. They come together in no time and require no special equipment or baking techniques. They also keep well in the refrigerator.Be sure to use blueberry preserves, not blueberry jelly, for the topping. You want the fruit filling to be thick and to contain actual pieces of blueberry. Blueberry cheesecake squares(Make in an 8 by 8 inch baking pan)This recipe can be successfully doubled And baked in a 9 by 13 inch pan
IngredientsBase1 cup flour1/4 cup packed dark brown sugarSlightly less than 1/2 teaspoon of salt6 tablespoons of unsalted butter Topping8 ounces of cream cheese (don’t use no-fat), softened unless you are using a food processor to make the topping1/4 cup plus 2 (two) tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 large egg1 teaspoon of vanilla1/4 plus 2 tablespoons of blueberry preserves, at room temperaturePreheat the oven to 350 degrees, with the rack in the center position. Line the baking pan with non-stick aluminum foil or with regular aluminum foil. If you use regular aluminum foil, grease and flour the pan or spray it generously with a vegetable oil-flour spray.In a bowl or a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar and salt. Pulse or stir until well combined. If using a food processor, cut the butter in to six pieces and pulse until the mixture forms course crumbs and just starts to hold together in clumps, but doesn’t form a dough or a ball. If making by hand, cut the butter into small pieces, and using your fingers, a large fork, or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it has the texture of course crumbs.Press the base mixture into the prepared pan, leveling and smoothing it as you go. Bake the base in the preheated oven until it is lightly browned-about 20 minutes in my oven.While the base bakes, make the topping: If using a food processor, cut the cream cheese into at least four pieces, and put it, with the sugar, egg, and vanilla in the processor bowl. Pulse just until smooth and completely mixed-don’t overprocess or the cream cheese may get watery. If making in a bowl, beat the cream and cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix the egg and vanilla together in a small bowl or measuring cup and add to the cheese-sugar mixture, beating until well combined and smooth.Remove the base from the oven when done and place it on a wire rack. Spoon the blueberry preserves over the hot base and spread them with a rubber spatula or the back of a soup spoon until they are evenly distributed and cover the entire base. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over the blueberries and gently spread until the preserves are covered.
Place the pan back in the oven and bake for about 25 to 30 more minutes. The topping will puff slightly and look set. Remove the pan to a wire rack and cool the pastry completely. To cut it into squares most easily, cover it once it has cooled and refrigerate it for several hours or overnight. Slice it into squares with a thin, sharp knife, wiping it clean after each cut.Store the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.This cookie was inspired by one developed by Esther BrodyVera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact Vera Dawson with your comments about this column or your baking questions at veradawson@aol.Vail, Colorado
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