For a friend’s birthday last year, I made a batch of my mom’s raspberry bars. The tangy raspberry jam matched with the rich white chocolate and the buttery cake-like foundation is always a huge hit. They always go fast and are a welcome gift.
My friend enjoyed them and said she couldn’t stop eating them. But, as she’s a creative cook herself, she asked me if I’d ever made any variations to the basic recipe. I admitted that I hadn’t but had been thinking about doing it, though part of me felt that the recipe was perfect as it was.
She agreed, but then started brainstorming with me a variety of combinations. After listing a variety of jams and nuts, she proposed that blueberry jam with macadamia nuts and a hefty dose of lemon zest would be her adaptation of choice. I agreed that it sounded fantastic and we both made promises to try it at some point.
Days then months passed, and I got busy and forgot about the blueberry lemon bars. Then, the day after Christmas, I received a text from her with a photo of said bars. She had made the rendition she envisioned and declared them delicious.
She then sent a photo and indeed, the blanket of chopped macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips spread like the most decadent crumble on top of the blueberry and cookie layers. I resolved to make her take immediately.
While we’d discussed what she’d do, she didn’t give away too many details. So, I took my mom’s basic recipe and swapped out the almond extract for a healthy dose of lemon extract along with handfuls of fresh lemon zest. I grabbed a jar of blueberry jam at the store along with macadamia nuts for the topping. Then I got to work.
The secret behind the original bars’ addictive nature is the copious amounts of butter involved along with the splash of almond extract. The latter gives the cookie layer a distinctively sweet flavor, and I was concerned would affect how the bars would taste without it.
But I was also afraid that it would overpower the delicate nature of the macadamia nuts’ creamy flavor so I tried it without on the first batch to see how it would go.
There was no need to worry. Indeed, my friend’s idea was a fine one and the combination of blueberries, white chocolate, and macadamia nuts along with the hint of lemon make for a fine treat.
White chocolate macadamia blueberry bars
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 cups white chocolate chips
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons lemon extract
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 1/2 cup blueberry jam
- 1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
Preheat the oven to 325° F and line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Once melted, remove from the heat, and add half of the white chocolate chips. Let stand, and do not stir.
Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating at high speed until lemon colored.
Stir in the butter-chip mixture to the eggs. Then add the flour, salt, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest. Beat on low speed just until combined.
Spread half of the batter in the prepared baking pan. Bake uncovered in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and the top feels firm. It will continue to bake in the next step, so don’t overbake it.
Stir the remaining white chocolate chips into the remaining batter. Set aside.
Melt the blueberry jam on low heat in a saucepan, then spread evenly over the baked layer.
Gently spoon the remaining batter evenly over the blueberry jam. Evenly sprinkle the top with the macadamia nuts.
Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes more, or until the nuts are beginning to brown and the top layer is golden brown and firm.
Like a cookie, it will continue to cook and harden after removing from the oven, so be sure not to overbake it.
Let cool and then cut into squares or bars. It will keep in an airtight container for 1 week. They can also be frozen.
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