Blackberries are easily the prettiest berry in my opinion, but strangely the most under utilized berry in my house. We don't eat them enough, and it's a shame because they're so, so good. This past weekend when I was in the mood for a sweet treat, with blackberries on my mind, I made these blackberry pie bars. Ripe, juicy blackberries sit on top of a buttery shortbread style crust, topped with an almond crumb topping, and baked until golden brown and bubbly. Buttery, and crumbly, with a deep sweet tart blackberry flavor, these bars are super delicious and highly addictive.
The crust for the blackberry pie bars is similar to a shortbread crust. The flour, sugars, salt, lemon zest and butter are combined in the food processor to make a crumbly dough. The dough will stick together if you remove a handful of the mixture out and give it a light squeeze. That's how you know your butter is cut in properly, and the dough can be pressed into the pan. Before pressing the dough into the pan, reserve a cup of the flour/butter mixture for the topping.
I like to use the bottom of a measuring cup to evenly press in my dough. Once it's evenly distributed, I use an offset spatula to make it super neat and level. I can't help myself, I like to make a pretty crust before baking. It's just one of my baking quirks. The crust gets baked until it's golden brown, then cooled before adding the blackberry filling.
Remember that cup of the flour mixture we reserved when making the crust? That is also being used as the topping. Add a little bit of spice by adding some cinnamon, then use your fingertips to work the mixture together a bit to form some larger clumps. You can toss in the toasted almonds at this point, or wait to just sprinkle on after sprinkling on the crumb topping.
The blackberry filling
While the crust is baked, and is cooling, make the blackberry filling. I like to macerate the berries for just a little bit while the crust cools so that the filling is a bit more jammy. I used fresh blackberries, but you can use frozen. Defrost and drain them before using. Cut the berries into halves, or quarters if they're huge, toss them with a bit of sugar, and lemon juice and let them rest, stirring occasionally. When the crust has cooled, and is just warm, combine the cornstarch with the berries and pour onto the crust. Bake the bars until the blackberries are bubbling around the edges and the topping has baked to golden brown.
The blackberries create this thick and juicy deep purple jam when they bake. The crust is buttery, crumbly, and a bit caramel-y from the brown sugar. The blackberries make the crust around edges of the bars sticky and chewy from the juices seeping down the sides before setting up - easily my favorite part. So, so good. And that almond crumb topping just makes these bars. Buttery and crunchy, with a hint of spice, these bars are the perfect way to use up those summer blackberries.
For more summer treats, check out these posts:
Blackberry Pie Bars
Crust and Topping
- 2 ¼ cup (312g) all purpose flour
- ½ cup (100g) light brown sugar, packed
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup (32g) sliced almonds, toasted
- 2 ½ cups fresh blackberries, halved
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 ½-2 tablespoons cornstarch, use the higher amount if the berries are really juicy
- Heat the oven to 375F. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Pulse to combine.
- Add the butter cubes to the flour mixture. Pulse until the mixture starts to clump together but is still sandy.
- Remove 1 cup of the mixture, and turn out the remaining mixture into the prepared pan.
- Lightly press the dough evenly into the pan. Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden brown.
- Add the cinnamon to the reserved 1 cup of the flour mixture and combine. Use the tips of your fingers to squeeze the dough together to make clumps for the topping. You don't want this part to be sandy.
- Add the almonds (or you can wait to sprinkle them on at the before baking), and place the crumbs into the refrigerator to keep chilled.
- Place the blackberries, lemon juice, and sugar in a medium bowl. Toss to combine. Let the blackberries sit and macerate while the crust cools.
- When the crust is just warm, add the cornstarch to the blackberry mixture and mix until combined.
- Pour the blackberry filling onto the crust.
- Evenly sprinkle the crumbs and almonds on top of the blackberry filling.
- Bake the bars for 35-45 minutes, until the blackberries and juices are bubbling around the edges and the topping is golden brown.
- Allow the bars to cool completely before serving.