I find baking really stressful. I am so envious of people like Caitlin and Helen who make it seem so easy. The holidays just means back to back to back nail-biting sessions peering into the oven with the light on for me. I had picked out a fabulous sounding Blueberry Crumb Bar recipe from Smitten Kitchen to make to cut into squares and take to a cookie swap this weekend.
I was in trouble from the very beginning. I didn't have enough blueberries to make the full recipe. That was easily solved by mixing in some cherries I had on hand. I faltered when cut them a little too early - the one square I removed made me think I had made a cobbler and not bars. Oy. In the end, I took some coconut-cranberry cookies and let these blueberry guys set up. In the end, though, they're delicious - the cherry and blueberry taste is a nice sweet & sour balance. The lemon in the crust and crumb topping really shines through. The texture is more like a breakfast cake than it is a cookie bar, which is fine by me, too.
I'm thrilled to be able to share a really wonderful initiative underway through a partnership between Fairways Trading Company and Macy's - the Path to Peace program. Women in countries such as Rwanda are trained in weaving and textile skills - as well as life essentials like hygiene and personal finance. The results of their creative efforts are being sold exclusively through Macy's. I can go on and on about how incredible this program is but I'll let you read it all for yourself on Macy's website.
The stunning basket and tablecloth shown in this post is just one example of the talents these women have. In the effort of sharing, I have a basket from the Path to Peace program to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment in this post & tell me what traditions you have when it comes to your holiday table. One winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday, December 15th at 6 PM. Your basket will be shipped directly to you and its color/style will not be determined by me. Please remember to leave your email address so you can be contacted if you're the winner!
UPDATED: Congrats to Lynn, who blogs over at Good Things Happened. She won the Path 2 Peace basket by being comment #15, which was randomly generated by Random.org. I'll be emailing you directly! Thanks to everyone for leaving such great comments :)
Cherry-Blueberry Crumb Bars - based on the recipe originally found here at Smitten Kitchen - makes 36 small bars
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 2 cups fresh (or frozen & well thawed/drained) blueberries
- 2 cups fresh (or frozen & well thawed/drained) pitted cherries
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.
- In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the cherries and the blueberries. Sprinkle the fruit mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the fruit layer.
- Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Like Deb's version, my batch took an extra 10 minutes to get brown on the top. MAKE SURE YOU ALLOW THEM TO COOL COMPLETELY BEFORE YOU CUT THEM! This will ensure you don't face massive disappointment and think you've made a cobbler like I did.