Friday, August 5, 2016

Dessert and Brunch Are Essentially the Same Thing Anyway.

So it's been awhile. Ever since Bakefest 2016 at the beginning of July, we had to play the "we're moving, so everything in the pantry must GO" game and I had nothing to bake. I've literally never had so much ramen in so many different ways before in my life. I cringe every time I hear a crinkle wrapper opening. Too soon. But now that we've settled into our long-term temporary abode (this is not an oxymoron if you're in the military) in the actual Land of Enchantment portion of New Mexico, I finally had the chance to go grocery shopping and NOT at a Walmart. You know you've been outside of civilization for too long when entering a real grocery store makes you so happy you almost cry. I've gone from no Targets to THREE. I've gone from no Chickfila to one that is two minutes away. I've gone from cow poo smell and desolate wasteland (think Mad Max) to mid afternoon rain and mountains. I'm, dare I say, happy. Aside from the soul-crushing fact that Blue Bell ice cream is absent from Albuquerque. Call me Icarus, thinking I could fly that close to the sun and have it all. Well, I may not be able to have Blue Bell until November, but dammit, I can still bake.
Where there's an oven, there's a Kate.
These little beauties are blueberry crumble bars. Not to be confused with blueberry cobbler because blueberry crumble bars are a handheld item. This is really one of the only differences, I suppose. But I've always wondered if there was any way to have cobbler like everywhere and anywhere I go, so I've solved a longstanding personal problem with this recipe. These can work excellently for brunch or as a dessert. You can top them with ice cream to make them absolutely divine, but people might judge you if you starting eating ice cream at 10:30 a.m. ...and yet they're perfectly okay with you getting loaded on champagne. It's a fickle world we live in, people.
New kitchen, same crappy photos!
It takes longer for these bars to bake than it does to pretty much quite literally throw them together. I actually had to go out and buy most of my ingredients since we showed up to our townhouse with a box full of cereal and pretty much nothing else in the way of food, but you've probably got most of what you need. Gather up:
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of butter (COLD)
  • 1 egg
  • Fresh blueberries (I used 1 lb, feel free to use 2 for extra goodness)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons of lemon juice
Start by greasing an 8x11 or 9x13 pan and preheating the oven to 375. Fun fact! Our new place has a gas oven/stove, and I forgot that it always smells like the house might explode when you cook with them. Good times.
It kind of looks like cornbread at this point.

 In one bowl, mix the flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Cut the butter into small pieces and then use two forks to incorporate the butter. This is a really obnoxious process, but our furnished place didn't come with a pastry cutter (I know, right? Don't they know who I am?). Add in the egg and blend...things will be very thick and kinda crumbly...hence the name "crumble" bar. 
You missed my smartassery.
Press half the batter into the bottom of your greased dish. I used an 8x11 dish (because it was all our house came with. Recurring themes...). But this yields really thick bars, and I like more dessert for the punch. If you use a 9x13 pan, you'll probably need to use 3/4 of the batter but the bars will be thinner.
If you eat enough blueberries, will your skin turn blue? These are my deep thoughts.
Take your remaining half a cup of sugar, the cornstarch, and the lemon juice and whip into a thick paste. Fold in the blueberries and really make sure they all get coated.
But like, how many blueberries would it actually take to turn your skin blue?
Dump your blueberry mix on top of the batter mix. Use a spoon to even out the blueberries. You're gonna want an even distribution of crust to berry. Trust me. I'm a professional. Or something.
Can you get blueberry poisoning? Because that would probably happen before your skin turned blue.
Take the remaining batter mix and press it on top of the blueberry layer. I honestly had a handful or two leftover. You want enough to cover the berries but not so thick a layer that it won't brown up on top without burning the bottom crust layer.
Because daaaamn it looks good all nice and browned.
Baking time will vary depending on the size of the pan you use. With the 8x11, I baked for 45 minutes and broiled for 5 to brown the top crust. You'd probably need to reduce baking time 5-10 minutes in a 9x13, but still broil to get the crust golden. Now, the hard part: put in the fridge for several hours to cool. I wanted dessert and fast after going for so long without baked goods, so this went into the freezer for two hours to set.
Totally worth it.
Now, here's the shocking part: one of these little bars will ring in at only 300 calories. Not terrible in the realm of dessert, especially since I know ways of making one slice of cake run you nearly 900. Gluttony, thy name is Kate. But with Florida really looming on our horizon now, I must unfortunately actually reel in the old sweet tooth. The great thing about these bars is that they are nice and sweet while not breaking the old calorie bank. Until you "Kate them up" and add ice cream, anyway. The first night we had these, we decided that for future consumption to warm them up in the microwave for 30 seconds to make them ooey gooey in the middle, which was a total win. But then we also decided a scoop of homemade vanilla from Blue Bell would make these taste absolutely heavenly. Subsequently, I spent the following day running around every store I could think of frantically searching for Blue Bell. I got really twitchy. And then really sad when the cashier at the commissary told me Blue Bell isn't sold out here anymore. I died a little when I placed a carton of Breyers in my cart. It made do, and I was reminded with each scrumptious bite that complaining about ice cream is a problem I'll gladly take after living for over five years in an area that sanctimoniously crushed souls and enjoyed it. Now excuse me while I go enjoy that mountain view some more while bopping up and down like an overeager toddler on sugar because I've earned it. 'Til next time my fellow eaters!
Ultimately, still delicious. But you better believe we're trying this recipe again when we return to the promised land with Blue Bell. Why yes, I am so Texan it hurts. How did you know?

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