Full of fruity deliciousness are these Red and Blue Berry Pie Bars that are perfect for any special gathering or summer party! Tried and tested crowd-pleaser!
First, I need to warn you all that this kind of treat is not for the faint-hearted! 🙂 Three sticks of butter in one recipe? Is this for real? Yes, that was my initial reaction when I first read this recipe. I immediately thought of reducing the butter/fat content in half – but then I had second thoughts – how can I adjust a recipe I haven’t even tried? So, I set on doing it as faithfully as I can based on the original recipe. I thought to myself, I’d adjust, if necessary, after I have given it at least one chance to prove itself worthy of all the calories loaded in it!
The Verdict! It was worth every single drop of butter in it! Honestly, this is one of the most delicious dessert recipe I have ever tried. Pie in a bar form? How can you ever go wrong? Besides, more or less 20 people agreed when I brought this yummy dessert to a friend’s birthday party! It was gone like the wind. I thought that would be the ultimate test and it passed on all levels by a 100 %.
The major plus in this super-delicious dessert is its fruit content – forget the butter – it’s all about the fruits now! Nearly 2 lbs of fresh fruits (about 6 cups) – mega-foods blueberries and raspberries! I won’t got into the details of how nutritious berries are, for you already know that, don’t you? You see, I made this in the summer when these fruits were in season in Michigan, hence, relatively cheaper than when they are out of season. Of course, if you cannot find the fresh ones or they are too expensive (especially during winter time) then it is fine to use the frozen ones (just thaw them and drain well before using). Shall we say then that the fat content is balanced by a tremendous amount of fruits used in making this? I leave it to you my dear friends to decide!
All I’m saying is, do not be turned off by the amount of butter here! As with anything the key to perfect enjoyment is moderation! If you do so, you’ll enjoy the food and not feel guilty afterwards. Will you promise to eat just one serving of this? 🙂
Now, let’s go to the recipe itself.
The recipe is adapted from Joy the Baker (so glad to have found this!) and it was based upon the recipe in the book – The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather. Wow, it has really come a long way, and has now reached the Philippine Islands via Manila Spoon! Blackberries were used for the original recipe but when I went to our local grocery what I found were lots of blueberries and raspberries so I used them instead. I opted for the multi-colored effect – Red raspberries and Blueberries. I thought it would look lovelier than a monochromatic approach. See the effect below on our finished product!
I will note below what my observations were when I made these. So when you make this yourself – you’ll know more or less what to expect. Overall, I think it’s a great recipe and I will make it again for our Summer entertainment with noting the adjustments I need to make. Enjoy!
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For the Crust/Topping
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar (I used white)
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted chilled/cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch-cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of 2 Lemons*
*I didn’t have any Lemons the first time I made this but it still came out good so it’s up to you if you wish to add these, too. Am sure they will add some extra tangy yumminess. 🙂
For the Filling
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream (ok you can go low-fat on this! I used the light one)
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 (16 oz.) packages frozen berries (raspberries and/or blueberries or a combo), thawed and drained*
*I used fresh berries – if you want to use fresh berries use about 6 cups in total of either or both berries.
For the Crust/Topping:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan or baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Set aside.
Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl. A stand mixer with a paddle attachment would be handy for this. Add the chilled butter cubes and beat on medium speed until the butter is evenly distributed and the mixture is crumbly.
Since I didn’t have a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, I used a pastry blender to incorporate the cold butter with the flour and sugar mixture. It was not a problem at all!
Mixture should look crumbly like this.
Set aside about 1-1/2 cups of the mixture for the topping. Press the rest into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
Note: Mine never really turned golden brown despite the extended cooking (up to 20 minutes). My suggestion would be to not obsess about not having a truly golden brown crust, like I did! The filling will go on top of it anyway and if you already overcook the crust at this point – note that it will be baked again for another hour or so in the oven – it would harden, and though no one complained, I wasn’t very keen on it. Just bake it between 12-15 minutes but don’t expect it to be golden brown as the recipe stated. It would still look pale but hopefully, it won’t harden too much when you re-bake it with the filling on top.
Remove from the oven and cool for about 10-15 minutes.
For the Filling:
Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add in the sugar, sour cream, flour, and salt and combine. Gently fold in the berries.
Carefully pour the mixture over the crust. Distribute the berries evenly on top.
Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture on top of the filling. Distribute well.
Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Mine needed about a little over an hour. Oven temperature and heating capacity vary so adjust accordingly. One of our readers noted that the berries bubbled over – because the fruits are fresh and juicy this may happen so you can prevent this by using a cookie sheet for any spill-over.
I wanted a crumblier and crunchier crust so I placed it under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to achieve this. Watch out so that the top doesn’t burn!
Cool for least 2-3 hours before cutting into bars. Wait until it’s fully set so when you cut it it doesn’t drip unless you can’t wait and don’t mind that it crumbles – and that’s perfectly understandable! I actually imagined this more as a fruity crumble (rather than a Bar cookie) reminiscent of the ones I had in England. So if you wish, you can serve it warm with ice cream on top! Pure dessert heaven! Can anything be better than this as a summer dessert? I would have to think hard ’cause for now this is on top of my list!
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