Jam Crumble Bars, Or, What to Bring When You’re Invited to Someone’s Home for Holiday Meals

Chances are, sometime in the next month you will be having a holiday meal — either in your home or someone else’s.  And if you’re like me, you’ll probably over-do it and make a ton of sweets and savories that will practically BEG to be shared because you just couldn’t (read: shouldn’t) eat another bite! 

This is one of those sweets.

This simple jam bar is adapted from a recipe torn from Real Simple magazine ages ago.  Seriously, ages.   I checked RealSimple.com and it was originally printed in 2006.  Goes to show just what a recipe junkie I am, huh?  If you only knew…. *sigh*

When I say simple I mean it.  These are prepared totally in the food processor, no fuss no muss.   You say you don’t OWN a food processor?   By all means, you can certainly do this the same way you’d make a pie dough – use a pastry cutter or even your fingers.   It’s so simple that you may want to make a bunch of these for gifts using disposable aluminum pans (1/4-sheet size) and the most fabulous jams you can find.   Teachers, postal and newspaper delivery people, friendly farmers… I can’t imagine anyone turning down one of these lovely bars.

After you scrape the teeny tiny seeds from a vanilla bean, drop it in a jar of sugar. In a week or so, vanilla sugar!

Last weekend we held our 6th Annual Open House at the Farm.  We have several other vendors come in and sell their wares in our barn.   We offer cookies and cider to our customers as a thank you for all the support they’ve given us throughout the season.  Our customers, after all, are what keep us in business.  I made these for the refreshment table.

The purpose of a jam-based cookie was to highlight the products of one of our vendors.  Jonathan, the owner, had given me three deliciously flavorful jams: Farm and Forest Berry, Pear-Almond, and Strawberry-Vanilla .  I admit, I HATE pears… Hate. Them.  I know that feeling stems from an awful culinary catastrophe when I was 12.  I can’t shake it and I’m really ok with that.

But this jam?  Well, it didn’t make me change my mind about the fruit itself (Blech!  Sandy texture makes my mouth feel yucky), but I will be more inclined to TRY things made with pear as long as it’s thoroughly disguised and/or muted by flavors like almond extract.  I upped the ante a bit with this bar by adding 1/4 teaspoon almond extract and sprinkling some sliced almonds atop the ‘crumble’.  For the Berry jam bars I grated fresh nutmeg over the top before baking.  Fresh vanilla bean added some rich flavor and pretty black speckles to the base of the Strawberry-Vanilla bar.

Whatever jam you choose, find some complimentary flavors or little touches that can jazz them up and make them extra special.  Everyone will think you’re a baking genius and you’ll be sitting pretty, thoroughly relaxed,  knowing you wowed them with a stellar dessert.

 Click here for Jam Crumble Bar recipe.

 Combine dry ingredients in food processor and pulse several times to mix well.

Add butter and vanilla bean (optional) to food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs are formed.

…. like this.

Add yolks and liquid extract(s) and pulse until dough comes together in several large clumps.

Butter your pan well.  Be sure to use that butter wrapper because I can’t stand clingy butter going to waste!

Reserve 3/4 cup of the dough and put to side.  You’ll need it later to crumble on top of jam.  Pour remaining dough crumbs into baking pan.

Press the dough into the pan using your pudgy little fingers or a glass with a flat bottom.  Press a bit of dough around the edge and up the sides.  Make it look pretty.

Spread your favorite jam or preserves over the crust using a small offset spatula.  If you don’t have one, get one.   You’ll love it.

Spread the jam to within 1/2-inch of edges.

Crumble reserved dough evenly over the jam.

Add any embellishments that you find complement your choice of jam.

 This just looked really purty….

Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes or so, until the crust is golden brown.  Remove and cool on wire rack until COMPLETELY COOL.  Resist the urge to cut into it sooner – it will only lead to breakage.

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