Blackberry Custard Bars

I am always on the lookout for a new spring/summer dessert recipe. Something that can go to a picnic or other event to be shared by friends. Something that is different than a cobbler or crisp or a fluff and more than simply plopping down ice cream bars or fruit pops. (Although I wouldn’t snub those at any picnic!)

Someone shared a recipe on Facebook for a rhubarb custard bar. I was totally game to make those except Safeway hadn’t gotten the memo that I would need 5 cups of rhubarb for this. In fact they had 0 cups of rhubarb and so I needed to think of an alternative.

Raspberries! Uh, not this time. Too expensive and the frozen berries were sugared. I needed something to mirror the tartness of the rhubarb.

Mixed berries? I don’t think so.

Pineapple? Absolutely not.

Blackberries? Yes! They had them in bags in the freezer section which made them A LOT cheaper than their fresh brothers and sisters. They were unsweetened and, frankly, I think they are a forgotten berry. No one sings the praises of blackberry pie or opts for blackberry jam on their toast. It’s always raspberries. Raspberries! Raspberries! Raspberries! Blackberries are the Jan of the fruit world.

More things need blackberries in them so blackberries would be going into my custard! I’m doing it for the middle children!

And they were delicious. A bright and tangy taste with a surprisingly fluffy cream cheese and whip cream layer on the top. You will definitely enjoy these at your next picnic.

Blackberry Custard Bars

Crust

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces

Custard

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 7 T flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 24 ounces blackberries, fresh or frozen – thawed, rinsed, and drained

Topping

  • 6 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, whipped

To make the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350F/176C.

Prepare a glass 9×13 rectangular Pyrex baking dish with cooking spray or butter.

Using a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, sugar, and salt together using your fingers. A couple of quick turns with your fingers will do it. Then add the cold butter and smoosh (a technical term) the flour mixture into the butter mixture until you have a bowl of course crumbs.

Then dump the crumbs into the baking dish and firmly press the crumbs down to make a crust of about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 10 – 12 minutes until the crust is just lightly brown.

To make the custard:

As the crust is baking, take a medium or large mixing bowl and measure out the sugar, flour, and salt into the bowl. Give them a quick whisk to combine them. Then add the eggs and cream and give the entire mixture a good hard whisking until it is well combined. Then add the drained blackberries and very gently fold them into the custard mixture.

As soon as the crust is out of the oven pour the custard mixture on top of the crust. Return the whole shebang to the oven for another 45-50 minutes, or until the custard is set. This part is a little tricky. It should have a very slight wobble to it and be just slightly tacky on the top. The top will be browned and yet still look slightly wet. When in doubt stick it back in the oven for another 3 to 5 minutes or until you are satisfied it is done. Extra browning won’t hurt it as you will be covering it with the topping.

When you think it is done take it out and let it cool. As soon as it is room temperature or a little above chill it in the refrigerator until it is very cool.

To make the topping:

In a medium-sized bowl whip the 1 cup of whipping cream until it is stiff. You should be able to tip the bowl upside down and nothing will fall out.

Then in another medium-sized bowl beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. These should be completely combined and very smooth. Carefully dump in the whipped cream and gently fold the cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream until it is completely combined with no streaks.

Remove the bars from the refrigerator and dump the whipped topping on top of it. Gently spread it over the bars until it is of an even thickness. Chill the bars for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Serve with coffee, tea, or champagne (save a bit of the berry liquid back to make a sort of blackberry bellini!).

These are delicious. They have a bright, fresh, light flavor. The crust and blackberry seeds give you a satisfying crunch while the custard and the topping are smooth and creamy. If they aren’t tangy enough for you add about 2 tsp of lemon zest to the custard for an extra zing.

Enjoy!


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