This post is originally from 2011 and it is hilarious for me to read it, since my boys are now 17 and 19 years old and no longer have little fingers, because they’re 6 feet tall. The only thing that remains the same 7 years later; they still love these Blueberry Bars!
2011: Yesterday was the official end of summer in my house. Back to school for both boys, and I spent the day wishing they were home again. “Seriously?” You may ask. I spent the past several weeks anticipating the beginning of school with a certain glee, which may have bordered on unhealthy. I couldn’t wait to have peace and quiet in my house, for hours at a time. I looked forward to doing my work without interruption, sans little fingers dipping into the bowl. But, when it came to the actual day, I missed them and couldn’t wait for them to get off the bus.* Instead of pathetically staring out the window waiting, I decided to bake them some Blueberry Bars. Every MN kid loves bars.
For those of you from the coasts, I am referring to a layered dessert baked in a pan resembling a brownie/cookie/pie, but can be made with fruit, caramel, chocolate or anything else your pantry contains. Then they are cut into neat bars. I was first introduced to this concept when I moved to Minneapolis in 1993. Bars are generally served on a buffet table with lots of crock pots filled with “hot dish.” Every family has their own recipe, usually a tightly held secret, mostly kept from the neighbors.
To watch me make these bars and for tips on easy lattice and stable fillings, watch my instagram video. Recipe below.
How to Prepare the Lattice for Blueberry Bars
You will find the full recipe at the bottom of this post!
Once the cream cheese dough is chilled, roll it out on a well floured surface and then use a Pastry Wheel to create strips. You can make them thick of thin, depending on what look you are going for. These strips are about 1/2-inch thick.
Lay out half the strips on a sheet of parchment, set on a cookie sheet, with some space between the strips.
Fold up every other strip and lay one of the remaining strips across those still laid flat.
Repeat with the next rows until you reach the bottom.
Start back at the middle and do the same on the other side.
Place the cookie sheet with lattice in the freezer to stiffen.
Pour the blueberry filling over the thyme shorbread crust and let it sit while you wait for the lattice to chill.
Remove the lattice from the freezer and make sure it is the right size. This is just done by eyeballing it next to the pan, then use the pastry wheel to trim excess. You can always trim more when you place it on the filling. Quickly brush the lattice with the egg wash.
Carefully lift the lattice onto the filling. If the lattice is chilled well enough this should be a very easy task. If it is still too soft return it to the freezer until it is harder. Trim any excess. Sprinkle with the sugar.
Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden and filling bubbling.
Trim the edges and cut into equal pieces, makes about 12 bars.
Bottom Shortbread Cookie Crust
- 1/2 cup (2 oz) confectioners' sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour measured with scoop and sweep
- 3/4 cup (6 oz) unsalted butter cold and cut into small pieces
- pinch salt
- 1 tbsp lemon thyme finely chopped (optional)
- 6 cups fresh or frozen blueberries I used the small, wild blueberries
- 1 tsp fresh ginger finely chopped
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp corn starch
Cream Cheese Dough for Lattice Top Crust
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/2 cup (2 oz) confectioners' sugar
- 2 cups (9 oz) all-purpose flour measured with spoon and sweep
- sugar to sprinkle on top crust
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x9-inch Square Baking pan.
To Make Bottom Crust
- In a Food Processor combine the confectioners' sugar, flour, butter, salt and thyme. Process the ingredients until it forms dough. If you are using cold butter this may take a few minutes. (Don't wash the bowl, we will use it again for the cream cheese dough.)
- Press the dough into the prepared pan. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top and then rub it smooth (remove plastic wrap before putting it in the oven!). Bake on the middle rack for about 20 minutes, just until it is light gold. Allow the crust to cool while you prepare the cream cheese dough and filling.
To Make Cream Cheese Lattice
- In the food processor cream together the cream cheese, butter and confectioners' sugar. Add the flour and pulse the dough until it comes together in a soft ball. Divide the ball in two discs and refrigerate for about one hour.
To Make Blueberry Filling
- Meanwhile, prepare the blueberries. In a sauce pan add the blueberries and ginger. In a small bowl whisk together the sugar and cornstarch, then add it to the blueberries. Cook over low heat until the blueberries thicken and reduce by about half. When you are done cooking them you will have about 2 1/2 cups of blueberry filling. Set aside while you prepare the lattice.
Assemble the Blueberry Bars
- Once the cream cheese dough is chilled, roll it out on a well floured surface and then use a Pastry Wheel to create strips. You can make them thick or thin, depending on what look you are going for. Mine were about about 1/2-inch thick.
- Lay out half the strips on a sheet of parchment, set on a cookie sheet, with some space between the strips. Fold up every other strip and lay one of the remaining strips across those still laid flat. Repeat with the next rows until you reach the bottom. Start back at the middle and do the same on the other side. Place the cookie sheet with lattice in the freezer to stiffen.
- Pour the blueberry filling over the thyme shortbread crust and let it sit while you wait for the lattice to chill. Remove the lattice from the freezer and make sure it is the right size. This is just done by eyeballing it next to the pan, then use the pastry wheel to trim excess. You can always trim more when you place it on the filling. Quickly brush the lattice with the egg wash.
- Carefully lift the lattice onto the filling. If the lattice is chilled well enough this should be a very easy task. If it is still too soft, return it to the freezer until it is harder. Trim any excess. Sprinkle with the sugar. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling.
- Allow the bars to cool completely. Trim the edges and cut into equal pieces. They can be stored at room temperature for a day and then covered and refrigerated or frozen.
31 thoughts to “Blueberry Bars for Back to School!”
Your bars look fantastic! I learned several things here!!! I had no idea there was something called MN Food Bloggers. Will definitely be looking into that. I didn’t know bars were a regional thing. Really? Do you suppose I served bars to people when I lived in Vermont and they were too polite to wonder aloud about them?
so THAT’s how it’s done…. and the lemon thyme–genius!
I been enjoying reading this post and specially the step by step presentation of the procedure. I am sure this is hit. I love love blueberry.
I always learn great tips from your detailed instructions and photos. Love the way you froze the lattice to make it easy to transfer to the top of the blueberry filling. Great tip! This looks delicious.
These look so good. Like a great after-school snack…or anytime snack, really!
Can’t wait to make these!
I picked lots of blueberries this year and I frozen several pints. This is great recipe to use some of my frozen blueberries. I’m going to give it a try.
Oh yum, I need to make these soon. Absolutely love anything blueberry.
Oh my this looks so good! I have to try the crust recipe and come up with my own filling! Too bad I am moving this week and will have to wait until I get unpacked and settled in to do any baking : (
This recipe is amazing! I loved every element. The bars were not too sweet and the blueberry flavor really shined. The shortbread crust was also fantastic. I will say this was definitely a trust exercise for me because nothing about the dough making methods were familiar to me. The dough making methods definitely felt a bit off, but everything came together for me just like it did for Zoe on the show.
I shared these bars with a friend and she said it’s one of the best things she’d eaten in 2023 so far! Hehe
Thanks so much for sharing. These will be made again 🙂
If it has lemon thyme, my favorite herb, in it, it must be good. I grow my own lemon thyme (plus a few other herbs) and I’m always on the lookout for new and tasty ways to use herbs. Since I have fall raspberries in the backyard, I wonder if a raspberry variation of this would work.
Lucky you! My raspberries are just coming in, but we eat them as quick as they ripen! 😉
You certainly could make this with raspberries, but you may want to press the fruit through a strainer if there are too many seeds.
Today was my turn to bring dessert to my quilt group, so I decided to make these blueberry bars. I grow lemon thyme in my garden, so it was perfect. They were a hit. My friends knew there was a hint of some extra flavor, but couldn’t guess what it was. No bars remained. I’ll definitely make these again!
Thank you for trying them, so glad you liked the recipe! 🙂
Oh these look delicious!! Any ideas what I could sub for cream cheese dough though (I’m lactose intolerant)? I can have butter or use lactose free whole milk, but can’t use cream cheese or yogurt.
I like blueberries and bar shaped food, so this is a win win. But this does look really good, hope I can find some good blueberries to make this
I am new to blogging but new to the food world as a professional food stylist. I love your photo of these bars. Sounds like a great recipe. Thanks for sharing.
Hi – these look great! I’d just like to put in a vote for a link to the recipe without all the photos – saving toner cartridges!
Could I use powdered ginger? Somehow fresh ginger is a turn off for me, but I love powdered ginger recipes.
Dani- Just copy and paste the recipe itself into a word document and print it.
Has anyone ever made these bars with fresh frozen strawberries? If so, how did they turn out
Uh…… just wondering…. where’s the rosemary?
Those blueberry slab bars are stunning! I think I’m going to pack one in my own lunchbox 😉
These bars look amazing! I love blueberry anything! So delicious and perfect for the summer!
Thank you so much!
These look so good! I’m going to make them this week. Do they keep well if I made them the night before ??
Yes, they sure will!
the way you have made the checkered design on the blueberry bars makes it looks so back to school kind of thing, great for kids to snack on after school!
Made these today for an afternoon backyard party. I only had frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blackberries, rasberries) and followed the recipe directions. Absolutely delicious! We whipped up some heavy cream for a topping. Thank you!
I’ve been making these at the end of summer for the past few years and they are so good! This year I realized I didn’t have cream cheese at the wrong moment, so I subbed in 1:1 some thick cottage cheese instead and worked out perfectly!
Thank you for such beautiful recipes!
I had to improvise when following the recipe, specifically the crusts. Fortunately, I have experience baking and knew that some things were omitted from the recipe.
In any case, I liked the recipe and had fun making the lattice!
Please let me know what you found to be missing and I will update the recipe. I am so glad you enjoyed them!