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Thursday, March 19, 2015

California Gourmet: Berry Dream Bar Cookies


Berry Dream Bar Cookies


Spring is a busy time for native plant enthusiasts.  In addition to garden activities, there are the garden tours, plant sales, Earth Day activities – the list goes on and on!   Many of the events call for California Gourmet treats – appetizers or desserts that feature California native plant flavors.   Needed are crowd pleasing tidbits that are easy to make and serve; and here’s where native fruit syrups are real a time-saver. Flavored syrups can be used to create a number of treats – including bar cookies. For more on making flavored syrups see: http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2015/01/california-gourmet-flavored-syrups.html.  

It’s hard to beat bar cookies for simple.  They are often made from a limited number of common ingredients.  The ingredients are assembled and baked in a baking pan.  The cooled cookies are cut into bars (whatever size is needed) and they’re ready to go.  Because they are flat and rectangular, bar cookies also pack and travel well.  Bar cookies are perfect for spring garden events and family desserts.
 

Brown Sugar Berry Dream Bars

We’ve modified several classic bar cookie recipes to feature fruit syrups as their key ingredient.  The Brown Sugar Berry Dream Bars are made with brown sugar and have a hint of caramel flavor.  Syrups with a more robust flavor – elderberry, blackberry, blueberry, grape, etc. – combine well with the other flavors.  The cookies are golden brown and contrast nicely with sugar cookies or the White Berry Dream Bars.   These are delicious cookies – everyone who’s tried them loves them!

White Berry Dream Bar Cookies


The White Berry Dream Bars are lighter in color and flavor.  They are reminiscent of tea parties and garden socials.  These cookies are a wonderful way to feature the more delicately flavored syrups: wild hawthorn; rose hip; current/gooseberry; wild mint or other leaf flavors; elderflower; etc.    We like to dust our White Berry Dream Bars with powdered sugar to make them even more festive.  Once again, these are not just pretty – they are truly scrumptious cookies. 



Preparing Brown Sugar Berry Dream Bar Cookies

 

Brown Sugar Berry Dream Bars
 
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 cups white flour (+ additional 3-6 Tbsp for filling)
1 ¼ cup berry syrup* 

Oven temperature: 375° F 

Cream butter/margarine and brown sugar until well blended.  Using a pastry blender or two forks, blend in the flour until mixture is homogeneous and crumbly.   Spread 2/3 of the crust mixture into a greased  9 x 13 inch baking pan.  Press down firmly to make an even crust.  Bake at 375° F for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Combine berry syrup with enough white flour to form a thick syrup (like a very thick pancake syrup).  Usually 3-6 Tbsp. of flour are needed; stir until well-blended.   Spread the syrup mixture over the warm crust.   Crumble the remaining crust mixture evenly over the top.  Return to the oven and bake about 10-12 minutes (or until top crust is a light golden brown).  Don’t worry if the surface bubbles up – bubbles will deflate as the cookies cool.   Let cool to room temperature.   Cut in 1” x 2” rectangles (or whatever size suits your needs).   Store in an airtight container (if they don’t get eat right away).                                                         Makes about 24-30
   

*berry syrup is a simple syrup made with either prepared juice or a ‘tea’ made by infusing flavorful leaves.  For more on making berry syrups see: http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2015/01/california-gourmet-flavored-syrups.html
 

 

 

Preparing White Berry Dream Bar Cookies
 


White Berry Dream Bars
  
1 cup butter or margarine
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour (+ additional 3-6 Tbsp for filling)
1 ¼ cup prepared berry syrup*
Powdered sugar (optional) 

Oven temperature: 375° F 

Cream butter/margarine and sugar until well blended.  Using a pastry blender or two forks, blend in the 2 cups of flour until mixture is homogeneous and crumbly.   Spread  crust mixture into a greased  9 x 13 inch baking pan.  Press down firmly to make an even crust.   Bake crust at 350° F for 15-20 minutes (or until lightly browned).  Remove from oven and let cool slightly. 

Prepare topping by combining berry syrup with enough white flour to form a thick syrup (like a very thick pancake syrup).  Usually 3-6 Tbsp. of flour are needed; stir until well-blended.   Spread the syrup mixture over the crust.   Bake an additional 15-20 minutes (or until topping is bubbly).  Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.  Sprinkle powdered sugar over cooled cookies if desired.    Cut into 1” x 2” rectangles (or whatever size suits your needs).   Store in an airtight container.                                                                                     Makes about 24-30 

 
*berry syrup is a simple syrup made with either prepared juice or a ‘tea’ made by infusing flavorful leaves.  For more on making berry syrups see: http://mother-natures-backyard.blogspot.com/2015/01/california-gourmet-flavored-syrups.html
 

 
 

 

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We encourage you to send us your questions, comments and recipes (either comment below or e-mail to us at : mothernaturesbackyard10@gmail.com

 

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