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the days are getting shorter

Recipe: blueberry (and raspberry) streusel bars with lemon-cream filling

The summer solstice was a month ago. When the winter solstice passes, I watch the daylight hours increase with great interest. But when the summer solstice occurs, I don’t really notice the shortening of the days because it’s so hot that I cannot wait for the sun to drop behind the mountains each evening. However, when we wake up at 5 am and the sun isn’t popping over the horizon, I become keenly aware of the approaching equinox. I start to feel giddy and panicky at the same time. Giddy, because I relish those cooler days and panicky, because there is far more left on my summer todo list than there is time to do it all.

But that doesn’t keep a kid from trying.


mango mojito at aji in boulder

mister hyde and his precious

jeremy on pawnee peak

columbines in bloom in the high country



I recently hosted a stitch-n-bitch. There was plenty of food, lots of bitching (the good kind), but nary a stitch knit. I think when we go too long between SNBs, there is much to catch up on – it is a most dynamic group of fine ladies. Or maybe we shouldn’t have so many mojitos, piña coladas, and desserts to distract us from our projects? Good times! Today’s recipe was served at a previous SNB, but it’s perfect right now when fresh berries are flooding the markets.

blueberries or raspberries – take your pick

mix the streusel



If you can refrain from eating the berries raw (my favorite way to have them, really) you might consider putting them in these bars. The recipe comes from Fine Cooking and was originally for blueberry streusel bars. I didn’t actually have enough blueberries, so I made two 8×8-inch pans, one blueberry and one raspberry.

moosh the butter into the dry ingredients

layer most of it in a buttered, foil-lined pan



I quite love bars, bar cookies, brownies, blondies, anything you dump in a pan, bake, and chop up into small squares. It’s because they are easy to slap together and usually have fewer dishes to clean up. I find them to be very forgiving as well – always a good thing.

mixing the lemon cream filling

pouring filling over berries and baked crust



Everyone liked the streusel bars, although I think the macadamia nut and chocolate chip blondies were more popular. That’s how it usually is with most people – chocolate before fruit. The bars are a satisfying combination of tangy and sweet in creamy and slightly crunchy form. I like to tell myself that the oats and fruit make it practically health food (ha!).

top off with remaining streusel

crumbly, creamy, fruity



Blueberry (and Raspberry) Streusel Bars with Lemon-Cream Filling
[print recipe]
from Fine Cooking no. 93

8 oz. unsalted butter, softened (plus more for the pan)
13.5 oz. (3 cups) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 large egg, separated
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsps lemon zest, grated
13 oz. (2 1/2 cups) blueberries (or raspberries), at room temperature, washed and drained on paper towels

Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a 9×13-inch metal baking pan with enough foil to leave 1-inch of overhang on the ends (I used 2 8×8-inch pans). Butter the bottom and sides of the foil. Combine flour, oats, sugar, salt, and baking powder in large bowl. With fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture. Reserve two cups of the mixture for the topping. Mix egg white into the rest of the crumbs and press the mixture into the pan evenly. Bake the crust for about 10-12 minutes until the top is dry. In medium bowl, whisk condensed milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolk. Let it stand for 5 minutes (it will thicken). Sprinkle berries evenly over hot crust and spread the lemon mixture over the berries, smoothing it out as necessary, taking care not to crush the berries. Bake about 7-8 minutes. Sprinkle remaining streusel over the fruit/lemon mixture and bake until filling bubbles at the edges and topping is golden brown – about 25-30 minutes. Cool the bars on a rack (in the pan) for about an hour. Lift out of pan with the foil and let cool on rack completely. Remove foil and cut the bars into 24 squares. Store in refrigerator if not eaten within a few hours.

44 nibbles at “the days are getting shorter”

  1. manisha says:

    I remember those bars! I think I even brought some home. They were simply delightful and it was hard to stop at one (of each!)

  2. Simone (junglefrog) says:

    Those bars look amazing, although maybe…. mmm…. can I have one of those mojito’s please?

  3. Memoria says:

    These look fantastic!! I love the shot of you pouring the condensed milk. YUM!

  4. Rosa says:

    What delightful bars! I love that flavor combo!

    Yes, the days are getting shorter and certain birds (swifts) are already migrating back to Africa…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. haya (living and learning) says:

    yum!!! i must make these. raspberry for sure.

  6. jo says:

    These bars look absolutely delicious and I do love the flavours of both. Now I know what to do to my stach of blueberries in my freezer.

  7. Tartelette says:

    I’d be distracted by the food too! Lovely pictures of the colombines and that pciture of Jeremy at the summit is priceless!! I don’t know which one I’d pick between the raspberry bars and the blueberry ones. Hmmm….One of each please!

  8. Valérie says:

    You always choose such inspring recipes! I have mounds of blueberries that I’ve been trying to use in various ways; so thanks for sharing!

  9. Carrie says:

    These look so good! That lost shot is a beautiful picture!

  10. Patricia Scarpin says:

    Berries, lemon and sweetened condensed milk together? These were made for me, Jen!
    I would never choose chocolate desserts over fruit ones, but I know most people would – these bars would have disappeared in no time if I was around… ;)

  11. Marianne says:

    Great photographs, my favorite is the one with the arrow pointing to “Jeremy on Pawnee Peak” because 1) I can’t see Jeremy at all, but thanks to the arrow I know he is there (ha ha ha!) 2) I wish I knew how to do similar with the photographs I post on my blog!

  12. Lynne says:

    not only are your pictures awesome – but the bars look so delish too! thanks for posting the recipe – i’m going to try this one too… your lime meltaways were a success so i imagine that these will be too! thanks

  13. Phoo-D says:

    What an interesting use of sweetened condensed milk! The bars look delightful and I also love the summer pictures of getting out into the mountains. Isn’t this a great time of year?!

  14. TheKitchenWitch says:

    Those bars look so delicious! And I love the mango mojito porn! Thanks for having us.

  15. Erin says:

    yummm, jen! I just went to show your site to a friend and she said she’d already been here. you’re famous!

  16. Irina (PastryPal) says:

    Man, I love bars. For a while there I had a lemon bar every afternoon. These would be a perfect change of pace.

  17. charlane says:

    sooooooooooooooooooooooooo yummy

  18. Marc @ NoRecipes says:

    MMmmmmm those look so good, and certainly healthier than the keylime pie I’m eating for breakfast:-)

  19. foodhoe says:

    I haven’t noticed the shorter days… the bars look so good, I would a plateful now please!

  20. raj @ the hungry cook says:

    your photos are incredible! love your blog :)

  21. Manggy says:

    Pfft. Chocolate over fruit? Those people don’t know what they’re talking about ;) Of course, I may just be elevating berries to a superlative level because they are so rare here. They’re like little jewels to me and I cooked with them a lot when I was in the States, and it saddened me that no one else in the Filipino household I was in wanted them! What’s wrong with the world?!
    Me likey the variety here, I’m glad you ran out of blueberries, heh heh :) Gimme some of that health food!

  22. Kristin says:

    Oh yum. I hope we have raspberries on our plants when we get back from vacation! But since I forgot to put the bird netting on, we may have to wait a few more weeks to try these.

  23. Asianmommy says:

    These bars look wonderful! Haha–chocolate before fruit–that’s me. :)

  24. Heather says:

    The berries right now! They are driving me bonkers. I keep bringing home flats, cramming as many into my gob as I can, then freezing. Cherries too, gah, so good.

  25. Michelle {Brown Eyed Baker} says:

    Love these! Perfect for using up the leftover berries in my fridge!

  26. Whitney says:

    my mouth is watering looking at those pictures. I love the last picture. Damn.

  27. Pete says:

    Just came across your site and love it. Will definately be checking back often. BTW, the raspberry bars look amazing!

  28. jie says:

    thank you for the recipe
    will give a try..looks good and im sure it will taste as good as it looks.

  29. Mrs Ergül says:

    I will love to hold a stitch-and-bitch! but, none of my circle of close girlfriends stitch! but, we sure can bitch! haha

    the colours from the raspberries and blueberries are so inviting!

  30. Leanna says:

    I was so inspired by these that I made them for dessert last night, while blueberries are still plentiful and relatively cheap. We loved these, what a perfect combination of lemon and blueberries. Delish. Thanks for the great recipe.

  31. Caitlin says:

    Aaahhh – berries and streusel and SNBs and summits…. Too much awesomeness in one place! Sorry we couldn’t meet up last weekend, but we better actually face-to-face meet in Sep! I expect ninja photog awesomeness :)

  32. Ruth says:

    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yummy!! I can’t wait to make these…Summer has been cold here in the midwest and yes, days are getting shorter! time to start baking again!!!! thank you for this work of art (as usual!!!!)

  33. Eesh says:

    I’d love to make these for my mom who loves berries and will be visiting me next month. However, she is diabetic so I don’t know if I should tempt her with such gorgeous treats. PS: Moosh is my new favorite word :)

  34. Eileen says:

    I made these with freshly picked blueberries and blackberries. I thought the lemon cream filling would be less noticeable, but it really made them! A creamy lemon curd, perfect match to the sweet berries. Thanks so much for this awesome recipe. I can’t emphasize how much I value your tested recipes, not to mention reading your fun blog.

  35. jenyu says:

    Manisha – good lord, I hope you DID bring some home :)

    Simone – that mojito was *awesome*

    Memoria – thanks!

    Rosa – ooh, it’s amazing how the signs of the seasons are so subtle.

    Haya – :)

    Jo – I always have “extra” blueberries, so I love these recipes that use them up!

    Tartelette – at my house, you would get TWO of each :)

    Valerie – I can’t take credit for the recipe, love. It’s from Fine Cooking, but they do inspire me!

    Carrie – thanks!

    Patricia – ha ha ;) I am just like you are – fruit first ;)

    Marianne – just a little photoshop to slap a label on top. You can easily do that with free software like GIMP.

    Lynne – well thank you! It’s not my recipe – I get most of my baking recipes from other very good sources :)

    Phoo-D – I thought it was peculiar too when I first read it, but after they baked, they were terrific. Faith in sweetened condensed milk?

    TKW – anytime, sweetie.

    Erin – hee hee, famous in a dorky sort of way? ;)

    Irina – I think lemon bars are my hands down favorite bars, so I totally know where you’re coming from.

    Charlane – ;)

    Marc – I’ll trade ya!

    Foodhoe – where are you when I finish testing a recipe? I would love to unload the goodies on ya.

    Raj – thank you!

    Mark – berries are so precious to me… mostly because they have a brief season and they really are best at peak and not frozen. :)

    Kristin – I am so jealous that you have raspberry plants! How awesome is that.

    Asianmommy – hee hee.

    Heather – mmmmm.

    Michelle – absolutely.

    Whitney – ;) good luck on the bar!

    Pete – thanks!

    Jie – you’re very welcome

    Mrs. E – well, you can just have a “snack and bitch” ;) I’m sure that would be fun.

    Leanna – yay!!!

    Caitlin – can’t wait to see you in Sept!

    Ruth – awww, thanks!

    Eesh – hmm, I don’t know much about diabetic recipes, but perhaps if she just had a little piece?

    Eileen – omg, that sounds heavenly. Thanks so much – very glad you enjoy urb :)

  36. Kevin says:

    Those berry bars look nice and summery and good!

  37. jenyu says:

    Kevin – thanks, hon!

  38. mimi says:

    you had me at lemon cream!! these look delicious and a perfect goodie to bring in to the office to share. and i must be an anomaly because i’ll always take fruit before chocolate!!

  39. jenyu says:

    Mimi – it’s good to find those other folks who love fruit as much as I do! Hope your office likes the treats :)

  40. Mrs Ergül says:

    haha the “snack and bitch” idea is worth considering! but this “ditch and bitch” theme stucked onto my mind for a while. haha

  41. Berry Streusel Bars with Lemon-Cream Filling « Sweet Ginger says:

    [...] found this recipe over at use real butter and decided that it was the perfect [...]

  42. Sunday baking « Chronicles of Laura says:

    [...] also made this Blueberry Streusel Bars with Lemon-Cream Filling by Jen from Userealbutter.com.  This is delicious.   I made a different Blueberry bar last year [...]

  43. Lisa ann says:

    I was trying to use some lemon cream filling (in a can) for this… it was awful. I had made it once before following the recipe that Jen had here. It was AWESOME! Since it does make two batches I gave one to my mother-in-law.

  44. To Try Tuesday | The Spiced Life says:

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