Do not judge these poor bars by their pictures here. I have done terrible things to them.
Those sad, melty looking tops……they were crumbly once. Not long ago. But then I put them in the fridge so I could save them for photos. And when I took them out, they looked less crumbly and delicious than they did on Day One. So I decided to stick them in the oven, because I thought that would help. Not sure why, because it didn’t. Like DID NOT AT ALL. Now they’re weird and melty looking, and I feel as though I’ve dishonored my pie bars. Because they are ridiculously delicious. You can probably tell by all those words in the title, right? Well there’s basil in there too. And the crème fraîche is made with Madagascar vanilla. Yeah, I didn’t eat that right off a spoon or anything. So let’s look past the not-so-crumbly tops and imagine just how good they are. Because they are THAT GOOD. Better, even.
When Linda made these bars back in the spring, I knew knew knew I had to make a blueberry variation once they were in season. The flavor of blueberry pie is possibly my absolute favorite, but I’m one of those people that always wants more crust and less filling. Pie bars seemed to be the solution to this problem. Also, they don’t require a plate or a fork, and that’s a WIN in my book.
After picking up a particularly heady pint of blueberries from the market last weekend, it was finally pie bar o’clock. There were a couple of super ripe, please-use-me-immediately peaches kicking around the kitchen, so I knew I’d be including those too…
…and there was plenty of basil in my garden, so that needed to happen as well. THEN, I remembered the little container of Madagascar vanilla crème fraîche that was in my fridge…
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the insanely awesome sample pack I received from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery last week. I had the chance to meet a few people from the Creamery at the VT Cheesemakers Festival pre-party the other weekend, and had such a great time chatting with them about the creamery, their new goat dairy, and food and blogging in general. I was psyched when they offered to send me some samples, but I was blown away by the number of amazing things I received. (I actually started cackling like a crazy person as I kept pulling more and more things from the box, because it seemed as though it might never end.)
So, I hypothesized that the vanilla crème fraîche would work quite well with everything else. I grabbed the container from the fridge, opened it, and stuck a spoon in. I took a tiny taste and then……I ate the whole spoonful. I don’t know what happened. Call it a reflex. I could not help it. It tasted like the richest, silkiest, most delicious vanilla yogurt that’s ever existed, ever. Like the way yogurt should taste in a magical land. If I were a fairy that lived in such a place (where things like weight gain aren’t even possible), I would eat vanilla crème fraîche for breakfast every day.
Unfortunately, I live in reality. Single girl reality, where I need to impress potential suitors by not looking like a 30-year-old that eats crème fraîche by the spoonful. So I stopped myself from engaging in more “reflex” eating, and reserved the rest for the bars.
I loved everything about these pie bars. Peaches and blueberries complement each other so well. Basil complements the peaches and the berries so well. Vanilla crème fraîche complements everything edible that exists in nature (and it added a wonderful slight creaminess and sour tang here). And the almond streusel was top notch before I melted it into its current sorry state in the oven the second time around. They are all-around delicious, and you should make them. ASAP. For real!
makes: 24 bars
Note: I wound up making this recipe slightly smaller than what I’ve outlined here to fit a weird 8 x 11 pan that I have. If anything seems off, please let me know!
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2/3 cup of sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
a few pinches of salt
11 tbsp of butter (1 tbsp shy of 1.5 sticks)
1 egg, beaten
3 cups of blueberries
1 cup of diced peaches
1/2 cup of sugar
half a dozen medium basil leaves, minced
1/2 cup of vanilla crème fraîche (or crème fraîche + caviar from 1 vanilla bean)
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of light brown sugar
6 tbsp of butter
1/8 tsp almond extract
Preheat oven to 375° and butter a 9 x 13 pan.
To make the crust:
Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine, then add butter and egg and pulse until a crumbly dough forms. (Alternatively, you can make this without a food processor by adding the dry ingredients to a large bowl, then working in the egg and butter with your hands or a pastry cutter.) Press evenly into the bottom of your pan.
To make the filling:
Stir together all ingredients in a medium bowl. Spoon evenly over top of crust.
To make the streusel:
Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until crumbly. (Alternatively, work them together in a bowl with your hands or a pastry cutter.) Sprinkle over top of filling.
Bake for 45–50 minutes, or until the crumb topping is golden brown. Let bars cool completely (overnight in the fridge, ideally) before cutting.