Sunday, May 7, 2023

Blueberry Cream Cheese Bars


  Whenever my family has an occasion to celebrate, my first question is always "what can I bring?" What can I say..... that's just how I was raised. My Dad used to always say "when you go to a party, you ring the doorbell with your elbow." (meaning your hands are full, carrying whatever you brought to the party). Most times it'll be an easy dessert, or something "picky uppy", which is a highly official term we use to describe party finger food. Sweet or savory, it's always the perfect thing for a party. So when my nephew Gregger and his newly intended, Britny, announced their forthcoming nuptials, I immediately started looking for a picky uppy something to bring to their engagement party. 
  Sometimes, I'll have something specific in mind, which often requires a trip to the store, but in this case, I eyed the fresh blueberries that I already had in my fridge, and that's the direction I went. A few more ingredients from my well stocked pantry, a google search, and this is where I landed. 
 It's my own adaptation of a recipe I found on a blog called Dance Around the Kitchen. Simple. Easy. And best of all, I already had all the ingredients. Perfect!
 So lets talk about the recipe for a minute. I've seen this method before. You make one recipe for the crust, then use half of it for the bottom layer, add a middle filling layer, and then use the rest of the crust crumbled over the top. Great. But here's the thing... it always seems to me that there isn't enough crust dough to go around. I like to make a solid bottom crust, and enough crumble to almost cover the top. So my adaptation was just to bump up the amounts a little to make more crumble crust/topping. I suppose I should have done some math to increase the proportions equally, but I didn't. I just sort of added more to each measure. I guess it's very forgiving because it turned out perfectly. And it had the perfect amount of crust!
   So, congratulations, Gregger and Britny! I'm so thrilled for both of you! And I'm glad the blueberry bars were a hit at your engagement party!
 And the next time you need to "ring the doorbell with your elbow', try this recipe. 
You'll love 'em!

1 cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups flour
2 cups quick oats (uncooked)
8 oz cream cheese (room temp)
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (or raspberries)
Sprinkle of cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 350ºF
Prepare a 9x13 pan by lining with parchment paper or coating with cooking spray.
 In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Stir in the baking soda, salt, flour, and oatmeal until combined. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 13 minutes.
While the bottom layer is baking, make the filling.
Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and stir until smooth. Slowly add the sweetened condensed milk with a whisk to make sure it's mixed well. Then add the vanilla and egg yolk. 
Once the bottom layer is done baking, (no need to cool), pour the cream cheese mixture over it and carefully spread it out. Add the berries on top of the cream cheese layer. Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal crumble on top and press it down lightly. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon, if desired. 
Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. 
Let cool completely, then chill for at least an hour before cutting; store in the refrigerator.

When stirring the cream cheese, be sure to get all the lumps out before adding the condensed milk. It'll be harder to get the lumps out if you add them all at once! Don't ask me how I know...
If you're not a fan of blueberries, try something else! Cherries would be great. Pineapple would be amazing. Diced strawberries would be awesome. Or combine whichever fruits you like. Diced peaches and raspberries would be fabulous. You do you!
Btw, I added cinnamon, but you don't have to. It just seemed to me that the crumble is very similar to an oatmeal cookie, so why not? Turned out to be a good decision!

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