I heart shortbread bars.
One of the signature dishes I make is called Breakfast Bars and the recipe is from Nancy Silverton of LaBrea Bakery. They have a super butter crust, fruity middle, and crunchy, buttery topping. They are delish. But they are kind of a pain to make. Lots of steps.
So I was pretty excited when I saw a post by Smitten Kitchen with a picture of a bar that looks exactly like the breakfast bars I make. Except she used fresh peaches in the middle. After I read the recipe and saw how easy they were to make I knew I had to try it immediately. If these bars were good, they might knock Nancy's recipe off its pedestal. Whoa.
And guess what? They're AWESOME! I substituted fresh, juicy nectarines for peaches. The recipe said two pieces of fruit should be enough. Well, I could have used one more because I ran out. So I started digging through the fridge to find jam or something else for filling. I found some Fig Spread. Perfect. They will taste like super yummy fig newtons. And they did! They are super delicious. I might even make a whole batch of fig bars next time.
The recipe calls for you to brown the butter. I did this because I love the nutty taste of brown butter. I'm sure it would be equally delicious if you didn't brown the butter. But it's so easy to do, just do it! Brown the butter then stick it in the freezer while you do something else. Before you know it thirty minutes will have passed and the butter is hard and ready to use.
Here's the recipe from Smitten Kitchen - with slight adaption. Very slight. As in, I used 3 nectarines instead of 2 peaches. That's hardly an adaptation.
Fresh Fruit Shortbread Bars (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cups all-purpose flour (or you can measure 3 cups and remove 2 tablespoons flour)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter browned (and cooled)
1 large egg
3 nectarines or peaches, pitted, skin removed and thinly sliced (between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick)
or 1 jar of fig spread, at room temperature, or use a 13oz jar of jam/preserves
Brown your butter: Melt butter in a small/medium saucepan over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Keep your eyes on it; it burns very quickly after it browns and the very second that you turn around to do something else. Set it in the freezer until solid (about 30 minutes).
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9×13 inch pan, or spray it with a nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and spices with a whisk. Use a pastry blender, fork or your fingertips, blend the solidified brown butter and egg into the flour mixture. It will be crumbly. Pat 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing firmly. Tile fruit slices over the crumb base in a single layer. Scatter remaining crumbs evenly over fruit and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the top is slightly brown and you can see a little color around the edges. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares.
Store in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer.
You can definitely make this today. It is a holiday after all and what else are you going to do? Your family will thank you.
I need another cup of coffee. Bye!