Saturday, July 23, 2011

Blackberry Shortbread Squares

Blackberry season is in full swing here in the Bluegrass State. We try to do some picking every year. I've discovered however, that blackberry picking is not for the "faint of heart."

There is of course always the heat and humidity one deals with in mid-July. We always must be hyper-aware of snakes that could be lurking in the tall weeds. Copperheads seem to be the most common dangerous snake "'round these parts." Then there are the briers that get a hold of your clothes or skin and just won't let go.

Most bothersome of all, to me, are the insects! Chiggers, ticks, bees, and hornets love the blackberry patch. This year the June bugs seemed to be out in force, feasting on the luscious black beauties. I believe that the big green bugs were happy to share with me, but every time I infringed on their territory, they would come buzzing right by me. I screamed about every time. June bugs sound to me, like an army of angry bees bent on destruction!

I was grateful that my dear husband was there so that at least someone was hearing my screams. He laughed. He is used to my "fear-of-bugs-that-sound-as-if-they-are-all-going-to-sting-me." I'm grateful that a June Bug's bark is bigger than its bite!

For all the sweat and fear—in the end—blackberry picking is always so worth it! I try to make different things every year with our picked berries. I thought these shortbread squares looked good—and we did enjoy them very much.

Our first day out picking we didn't have much time so we only gathered 2 cups. Consequently, I made a half-batch of these and four of us devoured them in one night.
Below you will find the recipe for the full batch. Make sure you see my note at the bottom concerning the almonds.

Blackberry Shortbread Squares
A Martha Stewart Recipe

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2/3 cup whole blanched almonds (about 3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 pound blackberries (about 4 cups)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line with parchment; butter lining. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Arrange nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden, 15 minutes; let cool. Grind in a food processor until fine.
Whisk together flour, nuts, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl; set aside. Put 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in almond extract. Add flour mixture in 2 batches; mix until a crumbly dough forms.
Press all but 1 cup dough onto bottom of pan. Scatter berries evenly over dough. Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar; crumble reserved dough on top. Bake until golden, about 30 -40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut into 12 squares; dust with sugar.

This post has been linked to Eat at Home.

Yield: 12 servings

Note: I found the task of blanching the almonds (boiling and peeling), to be a bit labor-intensive. To skip that step you can use 1/2 cup of slivered almonds. Cut your roasting time to 10 minutes and be sure to watch carefully as they roast.

1 comment:

  1. That looks fantastic! I think I'll skip the picking and buy from the farmers market :)