Sunday, 1 October 2017

Plum, Cardamom and Pistachio Shortbread Bars

When we picked the plums from our tree this summer, I used half to make jam, and froze the rest, waiting for the right time to use them. I needed something for two events this weekend, so I decided to make a bar with the plums, something with a shortbread base and a crumble topping (I have a weakness for crumble toppings!)

After a lot of thought I came up with this: a pistachio and cardamom shortbread base and crumble topping, with a rich, sweet plum jam filling.

Judging by how much of the trimmings my husband has eaten (almost all of them) I think the combination worked.

First make the plum filling. It takes a while, but can be made a day or two ahead.

In a wide heavy bottomed pan, combine:

8 cups pitted and halved plums
3 cups white sugar
1 cup apple juice
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat until the mixture comes to a boil, and continue to cook, stirring often, until the plums start to break down and the mixture thickens. Continue to cook, lowering the heat a bit and continuing to stir often to avoid scorching.

When the mixture has a jammy consistency, and a trail forms in it when a small amount is placed on a plate, the filling is ready. Remove from the heat and set aside until needed. A thicker plum filling will allow the bars to hold their shape better when cut.

Turn the oven on to 350F. Line a 9" X 13" pan with foil, and lightly grease it.

To make the shortbread, place the following in a food processor:

2 cups flour
2 cups shelled pistachios

Process until the nuts are finely ground.

Place the ground nuts and flour in a bowl, along with:

2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch ground white pepper

In a mixer, with the paddle attachment, mix until light and fluffy:

12 ounces soft butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add half the dry ingredients, and mix on a low speed until combined.

Continue mixing on low while slowly adding the remaining dry ingredients slowly until it is all added.

The mixture will be crumbly.

Remove 3 cups of the crumble and set aside.

Add to the crumble in the mixing bowl:

2 ounces soft butter

Continue mixing until a dough starts to form.

Press the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan.

Place into the oven and bake until golden, 15 - 17 minutes.

Spread the plum filling evenly over the baked crust.

Sprinkle the reserved crumble over the top of the plum filling.

Bake until the crumble topping is golden and the plum filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Allow the bar to cool completely before cutting...refrigerating it will make cutting easier. Serve as is with coffee, or as a dessert with vanilla ice cream.

  • The secret of the plum filling is to make sure that as much of the liquid as possible is gone. This will create a thicker jam and a less messy bar...easier to cut and easier to eat.
  • Purchased jam can be used if you like, this will save time.
  • Fresh or frozen plums can be used to make the filling.
  • Any type of nut can be used instead of pistachios. Try almonds, pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts.
  • Cardamom can be replaced with other spices such as cinnamon or ground ginger (fresh ginger can also be used if you like).

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