Big, juicy, tart blackberries! My P.S. (Personal Shopper/hubby) called me the other day and announced that blackberries were on sale, did I want some? Of course! Berries cost slightly more a pound than gasoline up here in the North during the winter. Gasoline allows me to drive around in warmth, the berries make me feel warm and fuzzy.
I’d been drooling over a picture of Blackberry Lime Bars that I’d pinned on Pinterest. Now seemed like a good time to finally try them. They didn’t look so difficult, maybe a little labor intensive because I was using fresh berries rather than the frozen berries the recipe called for. That just meant I had to toss them in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of water and set it for medium high.
Once they were bubbling away I used a potato masher and in minutes they were mostly mushy. I strained them into a bowl and ended up with almost exactly one cup of juice. Was that luck or WHAT!
Once that was done I prepared my pan by lining it with foil. The recipe said to line it with parchment paper but unfortunately we’re out. Then I assembled the ingredients for the crust and mixed it in a large bowl as directed by the recipe.
I patted the crust into my foil lined 9×9 pan and put it in the oven. I did bake it the full 25 minutes before it began to turn brown.
In the meantime I separated the eggs, zested the limes and squeezed the limes for juice. The recipe said she needed 8 limes but it only took me 2 limes plus a couple of squirts from the plastic lime in my fridge to get the full 2/3 cup lime juice.
When I had all the ingredients in the bowl I whisked them together. And whisked them again. And again. The recipe simply said “stir with a fork” and my whisking wasn’t even breaking apart the little flour lumps. Eventually they were fewer and smaller and I shook my head and gave up. Maybe I was overthinking it? I poured it over my crust and put it back into the oven. I think maybe next time I’ll mix the sugar and flour together before I put them in the liquid to see if the flour integrates a bit better. If anyone tries that, let me know if it works, please!
Again it did take the full 30 minutes for the center of the pan to be set. I removed the pan from the oven and set it on a rack to cool to room temperature. From there they needed to refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Definitely a make-ahead recipe! They taste amazing though; so tart and sweet at the same time. Very flavorful! I find them a bit looser than what I’d expected. Perhaps they could have used another 5 or 10 minutes to set up more. There’s no toothpick test or anything so really we’re guessing.
I must admit that my bars are a bit unusual though. I’d read her tips to making the bars less tart and more sweet and increased the sugar to 1 cup. In the crust. Not the filling where it should be! So I sighed and figured I’d soldier on and see what damage that caused later. I did increase the filling to 1 cup sugar in turn and that was a good idea. It was still plenty tart.
I also wondered why my bars are so much darker than the ones on the Improv Kitchen site. At first I thought maybe they’d change when they were fully chilled but nope, they were still dark. I didn’t put the powdered sugar on the bars; I’ll sprinkle some on the bars as I serve them so it doesn’t dissolve and get damp.
I will also say foil wasn’t maybe a good substitute for parchment paper. The bars were tough to get off the foil in one piece but that could also have been due to having 4 times the amount of sugar in the crust. It was great crust though! I definitely will have to make these again to see if I can get them to turn out like that lovely picture on Pinterest. My P.S. was thrilled and said they were “keepers” so it was worth the effort in spite of my rocky experience!
Blackberry Lime Bars
for the crust:
9 T. (1 stick + 1 T.) butter
¼ c. sugar
1 c. flour
1 t. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
for the filling:
2 c fresh blackberries – it became 1 c. of pulp/juice
1 c. sugar (or 1/2 c more if you prefer sweeter bars)
⅔ c. lime juice (about 3 large limes)
2 T. lime zest (2 large limes worth)
3 egg whites
⅔ c. flour
pinch of salt
optional: powdered sugar for dusting on top
Preheat oven to 350º F. Line an 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper or foil so you can easily lift the bars out once they’ve cooled.
To make the crust: Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer, then add the vanilla. Add flour until just incorporated. Press dough into baking pan with your hands until it evenly covers the bottom of the dish. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until slightly golden brown.
To make the filling: Put berries in a medium saucepan with scant 1/8 cup water on medium high heat. When they began to bubble mash them with a potato masher or a fork. Then put in a fine mesh sieve placed over a bowl and press the berries through to remove the seeds. You could also blend them up in a food processor or blender then strain.
Add sugar, egg whites, egg, lime juice + zest, flour, and salt to the bowl and whisk to combine. I still had very small spots of flour that did not incorporate.
Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for 25 – 30 minutes depending on your oven and your size pan.
Cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator to cool completely before cutting and serving.
adapted from The Improv Kitchen