There are at least a few baking “clubs” that I’m aware of (and I’m sure there are many more)- namely Tuesdays with Dorie and Daring Bakers. I wanted to join some sort of group, but baking something every week seemed unrealistic for me (I seriously don’t know how some of you do it). And as daring as DB is, it might be a bit out of my league for the time being. I would consider myself a novice baker. I think I need to learn the basics before launching into stuff like Danish braids and opera cakes.
So what’s a girl to do? A while back I was cycling through blogs and saw a few posts for the Cookie Carnival. I was intrigued and decided to check it out. It’s similar to the other groups. Everyone makes the same cookie recipe each month and writes a post about it. Cookies seem pretty straight forward and my husband is more likely to eat them than other baked goods so I decided this was the group I would join.
For my first carnival, Kate chose the Blackberry Almond Bars from Williams-Sonoma. I had to laugh when I saw it. I was expecting something more like Snickerdoodles which is the cookie they did for June. I’ve never made curd of any kind in my life and I’ll admit I was a bit intimidated. Before I started, I made sure I had everything on hand with the directions nearby. I had a few issues and the blackberry curd cooked a little unevenly in the oven, but they tasted great! I loved the deep purple color of the curd as well. I’m definitely making these again. 😀
- Blackberry Almond Bars
- For the shortbread:
- 12 T chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 c flour
1/2 c ground toasted almonds
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t salt
- For the blackberry curd:
- 2 pints blackberries
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 T lemon juice
4 T room temperature, unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
- 1. Preheat your oven to 350. Lightly butter a 9 x 13 cake pan.
2. For the shortbread, combine all of the shortbread ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until small lumps form. (I cut the butter into the dry ingredients by hand because I’m stupid and bought a small food processor. For some reason, when we got married, I didn’t think we’d need a big one because there’s just 2 of us. Boy was I wrong. 😛 ) Empty the mixture into the prepared cake pan and press evenly into the bottom. Bake until the shortbread is golden, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan to a wire rack and reduce the oven temperature to 325.
3. To make the curd, blend the blackberries in a food processor until smooth. Pass the puree through a chinois set over a bowl, using a pestle to press on the solids and extract as much juice as possible; discard the solids. You should have about 3/4 cup of juice. (I used a fine mesh strainer and a spatula. I think I went a little overboard though because my juice ended up foamy. I just scraped the foam off and threw it away.)
4. In the top pan (I used a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water) of a double boiler or in a nonreactive saucepan, whisk together the eggs and sugar until blended. Then whisk in the blackberry juice, salt and lemon juice. Set the top pan over, but not touching the simmering water in the top pan or set the saucepan on med-lo heat if you’re using that method. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the mixture is warmed through, about 1-2 minutes.
5. Add the butter a little at a time, stirring after each addition until blended before adding more. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan until a finger drawn across the back of the spatula leaves a path. (This step was taking me FOREVER for some reason, so I ended up dumping it out of the bowl and into a saucepan. It went much quicker after that. My makeshift double boiler probably wasn’t hot enough.) Immediately remove the pan from the heat.
6. Pass the curd through a chinois set over a bowl (I skipped this part and it worked out fine) and let stand for 10 minutes. Whisk to blend, then pour the curd over the shortbread, spreading it evenly.
7. Bake until the curd is set, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into bars and refrigerate until ready to serve. If desired, dust the bars with powdered sugar before serving. (I found the bars to be plenty sweet w/o the powdered sugar, so I skipped the extra sugar.)