Sunday, August 2, 2009

Spicy Blueberry Streusel Bars

On a warm summer night, at a backyard party or barbeque, sometimes the least appealing thing on which to end the evening is a dessert that is dripping with chocolate or butter, heavy enough to capsize a rowboat. For these occasions, I find fruit desserts much more appealing; although I can never get enough of cobblers and crisps, I wanted to try something a bit different (and slightly more portable) for a recent potluck.

The original recipe for these blueberry streusel bars called for an even larger amount of cardamom than is suggested here, and these 2 tablespoons really, in my opinion, max it out. These bars are unique for sure, and the cardamom spice is what gives this cookie variant a hint of the exotic. And using fresh blueberries, there was little need, really, for any other flavoring. This is yet another dessert where the fruit takes the zesty reins, but this time shares the center stage with the spice found in the streusel topping.

Blueberry Streusel Bars

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
½ Tbsp. grated lemon zest
¼ cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries

½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9x9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
2. Whisk the flour and baking powder together and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Cream with an electric mixer at medium speed. Reduce speed to low and beat in the eggs, then lemon zest, and lastly the buttermilk.
4. Add the flour mixture and stir with a spoon until fully incorporated. Turn the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it to cover the bottom evenly. Arrange the blueberries on top in a single layer.
5. For the topping, combine the flour, sugar, and spices in a bowl. Mix well with a fork. Cut in the butter to form crumbs and scatter over the blueberries.
6. Bake about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

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