Perfect for all the jams you’re whipping up with spring strawberries and tangy rhubarb, these jam bars travel easily to summertime picnics. They’re easy to keep in the freezer and pull out, press down and bake for guests no matter when you find out they’re coming, be it 30 minutes before they arrive or when they knock on the door. It’s magical.
No joke, I have used this dessert in three separate situations now, and each and every one has been just as simple as the last. The bonus here is that you can make extra and store it in the freezer or refrigerator, just pulling it out for guests or whenever the mood strikes, and you have a homemade dessert in just minutes.
So, the magical dessert just happens to be jam bars. Simple, unassuming jam bars that are baked off in 20-25 minutes and a fresh dessert is on the table in no time.
When the folks at Smuckers sent me some of their Orchard’s Finest Preserves, and I started thinking about all the different ways I could use them for the holiday season. We fill several of our Christmas cookies with preserves, after all, so it was the obvious answer.
Then in the last three weeks I’ve made pan after pan of jam bars. I needed them for a quick and easy potluck item, and there they were. They pulled together in a pinch when it was my child’s turn to bring a snack. They were whipped up when an unexpected guest stopped by and got comfortable on the patio. They are my new secret weapon.
Jam Bar Crumble:
1 cup sugar
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter
1-2 teaspoons extract of your choice (vanilla, almond, orange)
2 teaspoons citrus zest, optional
jam of choice
Mix together sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, egg and lemon zest. Using a food processor on pulse, cut butter chunks into the mix. It should be crumbly. At this point you can store in the freezer for a month or two or in the refrigerator for a week in an airtight container and pull it out and use it when needed.
In a bar pan press half of the crumb mixture in the bottom. Top with jam of your choice spread into an even layer about 1/2″ thick. Top with remaining crumb mixture. Bake in a 375º F oven for 25-30 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly before eating. Serve warm (with ice cream) or store in the refrigerator and serve cold.
NOTE: You can use whatever size pan you want. For one guest, I pressed a few cups of the crumble into the bottom of a loaf pan and then topped with about 1/2 the amount. Cooking times may need to be adjusted down slightly for smaller pans y about 5 minutes, so check them after 20.
::Apple butter with cinnamon chips
::Strawberry with almond or vanilla
::Cherry and orange extract
::Apricot and almond
::Whatever you come up with or have on hand!
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