BLUEBERRY FEST: Blueberry Basil Bars

The 2009 Blueberry Festival continues. No, that’s not a typo in the title. Try it if you’re skeptical! It’s a bit like a raspberry square, with graham crumbs standing in for the oats, and macerated blueberries – with a few extra flavors – instead of the raspberry jam. I found that macerating the berries about half an hour or so before starting the rest was plenty of time, but you could do this step even earlier if necessary.


3 cups blueberries
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
12 tablespoons butter, slightly softened (but still cool)

Combine berries, 1 cup of the sugar, vanilla, basil and lemon juice in a bowl. Stir and crush the berries a bit – I used a handheld pastry blender. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. Prep a 9 inch square baking pan with two layers of aluminum foil lining the bottom and sides – I learned this trick from the ultimate cooking nerds over at Cook’s Illustrated, and you can see a great demo of this here. Spray it with nonstick cooking spray.

Add the flour, crumbs, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking powder and nutmeg into the bowl of your electric mixer. Mix on low for just a few seconds to combine, then add the butter in 12 separate pieces and mix on medium for a few minutes, until it resembles coarse sand. This will make a loosely packed 6 cups – reserve two cups and set aside. Press the remaining mixture firmly and evenly into the prepared pan, and bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Remove pan but leave oven on.

At this point, you’ll want to drain some of the excess moisture out of the blueberries. Strain through a fine sieve – you don’t need to force it too much as it needn’t be totally devoid of moisture, you just don’t want a lot of soupy liquid. Spread the blueberries over the prepared bottom crust and sprinkle the remaining 2 cups of crumbs over the berries, loosely but evenly. Return pan to oven and bake for another 30 minutes.

— posted by Anne


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