Valentine’s Day was yesterday, and I have not had a real dessert in a whole week. Not that I am a dessert-freak that cannot go a week without something sweet, but no dessert even on Valentine’s Day? Am I the only one without Valentine’s dessert this year? I am feeling guilty in relation to the tradition, so here I am making up for it by baking something easy: these little blackberry bars.
I’ve made this recipe a couple of times now, and it’s so good especially because it’s simple and quick. This is one of those recipes I turn to when I am tired and can’t handle too many steps in recipe instructions. This recipe does not require laser-sharp concentration skills. I can make this when I am half asleep, and the result is always consistent: amazing flavor of blackberries combined with perfectly crumbly and nutty pastry texture. You have crumbly pastry both at the bottom and on the top with baked blackberries in between: perfection!
I’ve used both blanched and not blanched almonds: it doesn’t make much difference because in the end you end up finely grinding them. The only important thing is to use whole almonds, which have to be baked (toasted) for 15 minutes: if you use slivered almonds baking/toasting time will have to be reduced.
This Valentine’s Day was sort of neglected by me and my husband. I think both of us were so tired, we would’ve rather stayed home, but instead we felt compelled to do at least something. We decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day the day in advance, on Feb. 13, by going out late (after 9:00pm) to the 2 restaurants with the cheapest deals we could find around last moment. We started by drinking a couple of glasses of margarita, eating 3 tacos with a plate of nachos in a completely empty restaurant (it was after 9:00pm after all); then, in search of another cheap deal, we shared a slice of pizza with a glass of beer in another restaurant (more like a sports bar), crowded with mostly single guys playing some question-answer quiz game with the bar host, who chastised my husband for shouting out answers to his quiz questions instead of writing them down on a special sheet of paper handed out before we came in. In the end, we got back home tired, but feeling like we have accomplished our goal of going out, and immediately fell asleep, forgetting about any sweet treats. What can I say: we’ve had better Valentine’s celebrations.
Blackberry almond crumble bars
Adapted from Martha Stewart.
Prep time: 60 min
- 1/2 cup whole blanched (or non-blanched) almonds (2 ounces)
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the baking pan
- 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
- 12 ounces blackberries
1) Preheat oven to 350. Arrange almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until a bit browned, 15 minutes. Let them cool completely. After they are cooled, grind them in a food processor until finely ground.
2) Combine together flour, salt, cinnamon, and ground almonds in a medium bowl, mix together. In a separate bowl, mix 2/3 cup sugar and butter using electric mixer, until fluffy, 3 minutes. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix, using electric mixer until a crumbly dough forms that would resemble coarse meal.
3) Divide dough into 2 equal parts. Butter 8 inch square baking dish, dust with flour, tap out excess. Press one half of the dough onto bottom of pan. When pressing dough onto the pan, use flour to dust your fingers to help the process. Scatter blackberries over dough. Sprinkle blackberries with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Crumble the other half of the dough over blackberries.
4) Bake until golden, 30 minutes.