Blueberry-Oat Bars

Happy first day of summer!! It’s hard to believe it’s here, and I know it’ll be over in the blink of an eye so we’re going to try to take advantage of every single minute. We’ve been working on a summer bucket list this week. There’s not too much on it yet, but one of the things I’m most looking forward to is a trip to the drive-in movie theater. There’s only one in the entire state, but as luck would have it, it’s about 5 minutes from our house. I’ve been a few times, but never with Shane so I can’t wait! There’s nothing like watching movies under the stars on a gorgeous summer night. Added bonus of the drive-in? No need to sneak snacks into the theater – you guys do that too, right? :)

Do you have a summer bucket list? I’d love to hear what you have on yours!

Blueberry-Oat Bars

Lots of baking with blueberries this summer is a given; in fact, I got a jump start in the past few weeks. I’m going to do an entire week of blueberry recipes soon – I seriously have a ton to share with you! I was planning to save these blueberry-oat bars but I decided they were just too good to make you wait :)

This is my favorite kind of summer dessert – simple, classic and utterly delicious. Oh and also – while it fits perfectly in the dessert category, with the combination of blueberries and oats, I think you can also justify it as breakfast as you want. The base is a rich, buttery shortbread – it’s sturdy and cuts perfectly (I hate a jagged, messy edge on my bars!). On top of the crust sits a filling comprised of both blueberry preserves and fresh blueberries, so there’s definitely no shortage of berry flavor. Finally, a sweet, crunchy streusel topping finishes the bars off. I could have eaten the entire pan myself, I loved them that much. These would be perfect portable treat for your summer barbecues and parties. And when raspberries come into season, they’d be great here too!

Blueberry-Oat Bars
adapted from More Best Recipes by Cook’s Illustrated

{Note: I halved this recipe and baked in an 8×8 pan. Also, you can use frozen blueberries in place of fresh but defrost them completely first.}

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (4 3/4 oz) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup blueberry preserves
3/4 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 13×9 baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides to use as “handles” to lift the bars out afterward. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly on low speed just to combine. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and then, with the mixer on low, add 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) of the butter, one piece at a time (no need to let one fully incorporate before adding the next). When you’ve finished adding the butter, continue mixing on low speed until the butter has been broken down into small pieces and the mixture resembles wet sand – this will take about 1 minute.

Transfer 1 1/4 cups of this crust mixture to another bowl and set aside. Dump the remaining crust mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges of the crust turn golden brown and it is set.

Meanwhile, make the streusel topping: Add the oats and brown sugar to the bowl with the reserved crust mixture. Stir to combine. Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter to the bowl and use your fingers (or a pastry cutter) to work the butter into the dry ingredients until combined.

Make the filling by combining the blueberry preserves, fresh blueberries and lemon juice in a bowl. Use a fork to mash the blueberries – you want to break them down some, but still leave some visible pieces of berries.

When you remove the crust from the oven, add the filling directly on top of the hot crust. Spread in an even layer (it will be a very thin layer). Sprinkle the streusel topping over the filling – I like to pick up a small handful and squeeze it together to form a large clump, then break off smaller chunks to sprinkle on top. Don’t press the streusel into the filling!

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the filling bubbling and the streusel has browned. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let the bars cool to room temperature, about 1-2 hours. Use the foil handles to lift the bars from the pan and cut into squares for serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 24 bars