apple-berry + hazelnut streusel bars

December 30, 2014

apple-berry + hazelnut streusel bars | une gamine dans la cuisine

"let it go - the
smashed word broken
open vow or
the oath cracked length
wise - let it go
it was sworn to

let them go - the
truthful liars and
the false fair friends
and the boths and
neithers - you must let them go
they were born to

let all go - the
big small middling
tall bigger really
the biggest and all
things - let all go

so comes love."

                                    ~ 'let it go' by e.e. cummings

Wishing everyone a vivaciously blithe (mind-dust free) 2015!  Sometimes my tiny space feels lost in a hidden pocket of the blogosphere's ether; thank you for visiting, commenting and constantly reminding me why I keep returning to this cosy, flour-speckled nook. xoxo

{At some point in 2015, Tom Hiddleston will play Recuerdos de la Alhambra (for me) on guitar, I'm convinced.}

apple-berry + hazelnut streusel bars | une gamine dans la cuisine

This recipe is a gussied up take on last year's cranberry bars. I tossed in toasted hazelnuts + swapped cranberries with apples and berry jam, the results were messy & luscious! There's something a wee bit sultry & almost masculine about toasted hazelnuts, yes? When *slightly* singed, hazelnuts take on a rich, ashy-sweet aftertaste...their smoldering aroma made my kitchen smell like a savoury, winterling pine forest. 

The bars are simple, aside from chilling the pre-baked crust for about 40 minutes, they don't take long to piece together. Browning the butter adds an extra layer of loveliness to the already bewitching streusel, it's worth the extra step. Feel free to use your favourite jam, or, if you don't have apples, double up on the amount of jam...the recipe is versatile and forgiving.  I'm elated to bookend 2014 on a crumbly, sticky, gentle note.

Happy New Year, everyone!

apple-berry + hazelnut streusel bars | une gamine dans la cuisine

apple-berry + hazelnut streusel bars
makes about 24-28 bars

crust and topping
1 cup + 5 Tablespoons (10 1/2 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into chunks [Note: 1 cup of butter= 2 sticks]
1 cup granulated sugar [divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup]
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups + 3 Tablespoons (14 1/4 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted {to toast; preheat oven to 350F. Spread nuts onto cookie sheet & bake 8-10 minutes or until light golden + aromatic.}

4 medium-size apples, chopped (about 2 cups)
12oz preserves (I used Smucker's Northwest triple berry)
grated zest from one lemon (about 1 Tablespoon)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar

Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil, leaving a slight overhang along the edges. Lightly butter the entire foil-lined pan.

Prepare the crust: Have a medium heat-proof bowl on hand for the brown butter.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Increase the heat to medium and, stirring occasionally, cook the butter until it turns golden brown and develops a nutty aroma. Depending on the stove's heat, it can take 5-8 minutes for the butter to brown properly. During this process the butter will first become foamy before changing color, making it difficult to see what's going on. Just be sure to give it a good stir now and then so that the butter doesn't burn. Once it's gorgeous and fragrant, remove the pan from the heat and transfer the butter to a heat-proof bowl. Cool till lukewarm. [Note: while the butter is cooling, give it a stir now and then, just to prevent it from solidifying. You just want to butter to be cool enough so that it won't scramble the eggs when they're added.]

In a large bowl, combine the cooled brown butter, 3/4 cup of sugar, and salt. Stir till well blended. Add the yolks and the almond extract, whisk until smooth. Using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the flour until you have a stiff dough. [It will have a very odd, dense texture for shortbread, but it will bake up beautifully, so don't worry.] Transfer about 2 cups of the dough to the foil-lined pan and press it evenly onto the bottom. Refrigerate pan for about 40 minutes.

Topping: Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and hazelnuts to leftover dough, and using your fingertips, work the sugar & nuts into the dough until becomes crumbly; set aside.

Divide the oven, placing one rack second from the bottom, and the other second from the top. Heat the oven to 325 F.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator and prick the crust several times with a fork. [Chilling and pricking the dough will keep it from puffing up too much in the oven.] Place the pan on the lowest oven rack and bake the dough for about 15 minutes, just until the crust begins to set. Don't worry if the center still looks doughy, it's better to under-bake it at this stage.

While the crust is baking, begin preparing the filling.

In a large bowl, combine apples, jam, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey and sugar. Stir till well combined.

Spread filling over warm partially-baked crust. Scatter remaining topping mixture over filling.

Place the pan on the highest of the 2 racks and increase the temperature to 350F. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the crumb topping is golden.

Remove the pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool for at least an hour before removing the bars from the pan (use the foil overhang to lift them out of the pan).

Cut into square or triangles.


  1. A beautiful dessert.
    Happy New Year. Catherine

  2. Love e. e. cummings and this is a great quote for the New Year. Happy New Year!

  3. Beautiful bars! So delicious looking.

    Best wishes for the New Year!



  4. Your photography is sooooo entrancing, always such an inspiration!! Happy New Year and thank you for sharing these mesmerizing talents with us!!

  5. Happy New Year to you! These look divine, I shall be trying them when our Southern hemisphere apples are ripe enough to eat and bake with.

  6. Happiest New Year! And thank you for sharing these gorgeous bars!

  7. Happy New Year, Valerie! Wishing you much happiness in 2015. This post is a delightful way to end 2014.

  8. From the hazelnut streusel to the apple-berry filling, I'm already smitten with these bars. Save me one? ;)

  9. Happy New Year to you too! I am just loving everything about these streusel bars.. I definitely need to give the recipe a go.

  10. Happy New Year, boo!!! Way to kick it off with these gorgeous bars! xo

  11. Happy New Year, Valerie! These bars are utterly lovely... such gorgeous photographs. xx
    And as for Tom... yes! (haha!)

  12. Happy New Year Valerie! I am such a sucker for a great bar cookie - these sound and look DIVINE! Pinning now!

  13. Messy and luscious sounds absolutely sinful. Cheers to a happy and successful New Year! Pinning these, because, yum!

  14. Oooh, the original 'Let It Go'! Your streusel bars look delightful. I need a bite right now, as it is -32C (-25 F) here in Toronto. Baby, it's cold outside!

  15. Gorgeous pics! I love hazelnuts. They are such a unique and flavorful addition to baked goods.

  16. Happy New Year, Valerie. I love everything about these bars. Such pretty pictures, too. :)

  17. A beautiful, little fruit bar. I hope your new year has been off to a good start.

  18. These look wonderful, I love the combination of hazelnut with sweet berries and tart lemon!

  19. No posts for all of January - I'm getting worries that you went missing! I'm hoping all is well and that there will be a new lovely poem by Valentine's :)

    1. Thank you, Emma. xoxo
      I'm still here, my heart has not been up to blogging lately (the photography bit always draws a few snags that quickly turn into large, imaginary balls of tangled yarn). I do have a rather epic cake post in the works!!

      It makes me happy to know that I'm missed. :-)

  20. You are truly missed! I was afraid that I'd missed a subtle farewell in this post, Valerie. Glad to hear you'll be blogging again soon. Looking forward to that epic cake post.

    1. Thank you, Beth! I'm slowly wading back into blogging (already plagued by writer's block!). :D
      Hopefully the post will be up by this weekend.

  21. Are you sure, that this is photographed with snapshot budget camera??

    1. Sometimes I use my iPad to snap photos but yes, I'm still using a beloved Canon a520. :)

  22. these look great ! all your recipes do! i just started up my blog on my patisserie adventure I'm only a beginner but would feel privileged if you followed and gave tips! Thank you :)


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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