It’s blackberry season in Victoria again, which means I have been engaged in the death-defying art of finding blackberry patches that aren’t apparently covered with spray- and don’t apparently have an extended family of tiger snakes living underneath. The latter can be tested with a long stick, the former, well you have to loork carefully at the leaves and hope a bit. The good news is that there are lots of well priced commercial blackberries on sale, so for those who didn’t get the die-hard hunter-gatherer gene, you can still get the taste of these blackberry streusel bars!
I wanted to make something with wall to wall blackberries- not least because I had a lot of picking success up at Mt Macedon the other week. That’s why the recipe calls for a full 500g of berries. If you like, of course you can use half the berries, but blackberries have such a subtle taste, I think it’s best to cram them in.
The base might seem like it has a lot of sugar in it, but this makes the bottom crispy, almost like a buttery caramelly biscuit.
Blackberry Streusel bars are tender enough to be served for dessert, preferably in a pool of liquid cream, but they are also great for a tea time treat or a picnic. You could also substitute in raspberries or boysenberries.
Wild Blackberry Streusel Bars
Makes 16×5 cm squares
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
185g salted butter, cold, cubed
125g cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Zest of half a lemon
3 tbsp flour
500g blackberries (or other berries – frozen ones will work too, just thaw before use)
50ml blackberry jam, optional, for drizzling
Line a 20cm square pan with a single sheet of baking paper, by folding the edges up, like wrapping half a present.
Combine the flour, 3/4 cup of sugar and butter into a food processor and blend until well combined and 1-2 cm chunks form (alternatively rub the mixture between your fingers until the mixture starts to form a dough.
Reserve 3/4 of a cup of the mixture for the streusel topping, and tip the rest into the bottom of the prepared pan. Press down with your fingers to form a firm, even base. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes, until nice and golden. Remove from the oven.
While the base is baking, make the filling. Melt the cream cheese (20 seconds in high in the microwave will be sufficient). Add the sugar, vanilla and lemon zest and blend until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending until well combined. Stir in the flour.
Pour the filling over the hot base and distribute 3/4 of the blackberries evenly over, encouraging them to sink into the mixture.
Crumble the streusel evenly over the blackberries. Top with the remaining blackberries.
Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes until the filling is set and the streusel is lightly golden. Let cool. To finish, heat the blackberry jam until quite runny and drizzle over the slice.
Cut the slice into 16 squares when cold. I think the slice is best served straight from the refrigerator.