Blackberry Crumb Bars

July 14, 2010

Tuesday's episode of The Deadliest Catch was, emotionally speaking, the most dramatic so far. Anyone who watches the show is familiar with Captain Phil Harris. His larger than life personality, and even larger heart, will be greatly missed. He managed to project all his energy and passion for fishing through the camera and directly into our homes. He made us feel as though he was a close friend that would hang out with us once a week. Thank you for sharing such an important part of your life with the world, Captain Phil. That intangible strength and spirit lives on through your sons. On ne vous oublie pas.

To open the shutters an otherwise melancholy post (Captain Phil was not the gloomy type) I present these blithe blackberry crumb bars! This recipe is a variation on classic blueberry bars. I've actually made them before, but that was when I didn't know how to repress the urge to use a camera flash...or take pictures in my dungeon/kitchen. The pictures were so horrid, they really did not serve any justice to the recipe.

This time I changed things up a bit. I rubbed fresh lemon zest into the sugar, substituted blackberries for blueberries, and added a cream cheese drizzle! The results are even more scrumptious than the original (not as easy feat.) The lemon zest gives these bars a much needed, though slight, tartness. For as amazing as they were before, looking back now, I think they may have been too sweet. Blackberries are more assertive than blueberries, this carried the bars into my ideal realm of snappiness. I know that not everyone likes their desserts as tart as I do. If that's the case, feel free to use the blueberries instead. The crust and crumble marry everything together in a delightful buttery, streusel-like manner. As far as the drizzle is concerned, it's quite literally the icing on You don't really need it, but once you try it, you won't want the naked version anymore.

If I'd have had the privilege of knowing Captain Phil, I would have made a batch of these for him and his crew every time they set of for another season of crabbing. Enjoy!

Blackberry Crumb Bars
(recipe adapted from Allrecipes)
*printer friendly Recipe*

Bar ingredients
1 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon zest (about 1 medium-sized lemon)
1 teaspoon baking Powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, Cold and cut into pieces
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blackberries
1 1/4 cups of blackberry jam
1/8 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil and butter/spray the foil.

In a large bowl, combine the lemon zest and 1 cup sugar. Using your fingertips, rub the zest into the sugar until it becomes moist and fragrant.

Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter. *I prefer Dorie Greenspan's method of using your finger tips to incorporate the butter. But work quickly, you don't want the heat from your fingers to melt the butter too much.*

Stir in the egg. Dough will be crumbly and coarse, like thick wet sand. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In a separate, large bowl, stir together the 1/8 cup of sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blackberries and jam. Carefully sprinkle/spread the blackberry mixture evenly over the crust (leave about a 1/4-inch border around the edges of the pan so the berries won't burn.) Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Mine were done in only 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Drizzle (optional)
3 ounces of cream cheese (or just under half a package of the 8-oz size.) Cheese should be at room temp.
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1-2 Tablespoons of cream or milk
*I didn't measure the ingredients for this drizzle. These are my best estimates, so you may need to play around with the amounts.*

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Slowly sift in the powdered sugar. Start to add a little bit of the cream (don't add it all at once.) Add as much or as little of the powdered sugar and cream as needed. The drizzle should not be too thick, you want to be able to shake it onto the bars in a zigzag patten with a whisk or fork.

Makes about 15-18 bars.


  1. These look delicious, reminds me of the fruit pastries I used to eat all the time as a kid.

  2. Oh Valerie, my Cauldron Boy was so sad about Captain Phil too. He was pretty young too, no?
    These bars do look delicious though, and I'm sure he would have loved to receive something like this from such a sweet (& cute!) girl/lady!
    p.s. I'm sipping on straight rum right now. That makes me a pirate. Yeah, it does (smile)...

  3. Yumm, these bars look delicious! I love the cream cheese drizzle :)

  4. These look so delicious!! Too bad my waistline does NOT need these! ;-)

  5. Neo-Homesteading, thank you for visiting! It's always nice when food evokes childhood memories...unless it involves Brussels sprouts.

    Thanks, Stella. :) Way to get your pirate on!
    And yes, sadly Phil was only in his early 50's.

    Jess and Jessica! What isn't cream cheese fabulous in or on?! :) Just be sure you have a lot of people to share them with.

  6. Valerie, I made these last year, a healthful version with whole grains,and they are so good. I like my desserts less sweet, as you, and I would love these with blackberries.
    PS, I'm having a $70 giveaway on Judy's Kitchen. Please enter. Deadline is Sunday, July 25, Midnight.

  7. These look delicious, Valerie!!! Can I come over for some?

  8. Thanks, Judy! I'm on my way. :-)

    Absolutely, Avanika. :D

  9. My husband was sad about Captain Phil's passing too. He loves Deadliest Catch. Such a shame.

    Your blackberry bars look so delicious and that cream cheese icing certainly does push them over the edge! Yummy :-)

  10. How lovely, Valerie. So light and feminine with the pink ribbon!

    I don't use nearly enough blackberries in my baking...these are the perfect reason to start. I'm going to have to make these for the weekend; everyone will love them.

  11. These are so pretty, Valerie! Love the crust and filling and topping and well, everything! :-)

  12. Valerie
    those bars are heavenly!! and your presentation is breath taking!! wow!!
    I am so glad you used blackberries I bet they really stood out in this wonderful pastry....and I am sure Captain Phil would have kissed the hands that made them had he the opportunity to have tasted one!

  13. These bars are mouth-watering, the photo is very beautiful!

  14. Those bars look wonderful, and they have the all-important lemon as an ingredient! I'm looking forward to trying them.

  15. These are gorgeous, Valerie! I don't think I would turn either version down, but I love blackberries. And a cream cheese drizzle? Stop it! I can't wait to get my own kitchen again to do some baking!

  16. Oh wow, Valerie these look phenomenal. Seriously. I bet Captain Phil is wishing he knew you now!

  17. I make a similar bar and they are delicious. I'll give your version a try.

  18. It was sad indeed about Captain Phil. I'll bet he would have loved your beautiful blackberry bars, though. Lovely post and fantastic photos!

  19. Beautiful styling - those bars look like a present waiting to be unwrapped.

    PS: You changed you header again! I think this one is my favourite.

  20. I made these bars and MAN were they good!!! I added the juice of the lemon to the filling and swapped in 1/4 cup of brown sugar for 1/4 cup of white sugar for the crust. I didn't make the cream cheese drizzle. !hey were heavenly without it so I know they're out of this world with it. I'd never had blackberries before, and now I want to make these again because they were so, so good! Great recipe!


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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