One of my favorite things about food and learning recipes from different cultures is seeing how different people have used and loved the same recipes for centuries. What we think of pasta, we think of it as quintessential Italian fare, though it was actually an import from Asia (Thanks, Marco Polo!). The standard of French breakfast pastries, the croissant, actually got it's start in Vienna, and the list goes on.
Shortbread is just another example-- we think of it as Scottish and normally make and eat it in the form of simple yet perfect buttery cookies. But go to France and the same basic recipe for shortbread becomes a sweet tart crust called sablés bretons and holds an infinite variety of options for delicious, perfect desserts, just add fruit.
Which means that, even if I'm simply calling these Blueberry Shortbread Bars, you can go all fancy and call it a French tart. Isn't it nice when food is versatile like that?
Blueberry Shortbread Bars
Recipe by Rebecca Neidhart
Makes 6-9 Servings, depending on how large you cut them
Prep Time: 20 minutes || Cook time: 40-50 minutes
- 12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) of salted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- a generous pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
For the blueberries:
- 1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
- 3 Tbsp. granulated white sugar
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2-3 tsp. lemon juice
Preheat your oven to 350° and grease an 8"x8" baking dish.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of the crust ingredients and beat with a hand mixer until a cohesive, smooth dough forms. The dough can also be made with a stand mixer. Shape it into a ball, then cut off about 1/4 of the dough and set aside. Flatten the remaining 3/4 of the dough into the bottom of the baking dish, pressing with clean hands until it is an even layer in the dish, with about 1/2" lip coming up around the edges.
In a separate bowl, combine the blueberries, 3 Tbsp. white sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla. Mix gently until all of the berries are coated, then spoon them over the waiting crust dough.
With the reserved dough, create a pattern for the top of the berries. You can roll it out and create a dot pattern like I did, cut it into strips for a stripe or lattice pattern, or simply break it into little bits and sprinkle them over the top for a crumble topping.
Once the berries are topped, place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the edge of the crust has begun to brown. Tent the pan with foil, then bake for another 10-15 minutes. The berries will burst and spread during this stage.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until a drippy glaze from, the drizzle over the bars.
Cut them and enjoy! These will keep in an airtight container on your counter for up to a week.