In almost any dessert, the most important ingredient is nostalgia.
The sweet treats we loved as kids are almost certainly the desserts that influence what we like as adults, and Minnesota-based blogger Allison Miller has figured out how to take those fond memories up a notch. The author of "Untraditional Desserts: 100 Classic Treats with a Twist" (Page Street Publishing, $21.99) and author of Tornadough Alli (tornadoughalli.com) has written an entire book dedicated to putting a new spin on old school favorites.
She'll take a root beer float and transform it into a cake or turn a peach cobbler into a cookie. Other inventive creations in her book include coconut macaroon pie, apple crisp cheesecake, peanut butter and jelly pie, banana split blondies, fluffernutter bars, piña colada cookies, Funfetti waffles and cotton candy ice cream, but the recipe that caught my eye, especially as we're eager for the official arrival of spring, was this blueberry pie bar.
I absolutely love blueberry pies and open-faced tarts, but I'd never thought about making a blueberry pie bar until seeing this recipe in her book. If you're like my mom and insist on picking a year's worth of blueberries when they are in season and then freezing them for future use, you could use frozen blueberries for this recipe, just thaw them and drain off any excess liquid first.
Blueberry Pie Bars
These bars are a cross between pie, muffins and bars. They have all the delicious tasty flavors of each rolled into one handheld dessert, and it's a perfect treat for the morning, afternoon or night.
— Allison Miller
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
For the filling:
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8-inch-by-8–inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add your flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, almond extract and egg. Beat with a hand mixer until the dough is crumbly. Press half of your dough into the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
To make the filling, in a bowl, toss together the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice until coated. Pour the mixture over your prepared crust, then sprinkle the remaining dough pieces over top of the blueberry filling. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until the juices from the blueberries are bubbling and the crumbs are golden. Remove the bars from the oven, and let them cool completely before serving. Makes 9.
— From "Untraditional Desserts: 100 Classic Treats with a Twist" by Allison Miller (Page Street Publishing, $21.99)