Berry pie is a summer essential. There's no way around it. If you haven't yet enjoyed a slice, gooey and juicy with cooked berries, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream that drips down the sides, turning the flaky pie crust soft and cold, you should remedy that right away. Ideally, you should eat that pie on a warm evening on the coast of Maine. Sitting at the water's edge, your bare toes touching the cold ocean waves...
However: no beach? No trip to Maine? No pie? That's okay, really! These bars are a perfect solution; they might even top a slice of pie. They're just as delicious as pie, and in a similar fashion, are fantastic either hot or cold. But they also have some of the best characteristics of other blueberry desserts. The crumbly, streusel-like top reminds me of my favorite part of a blueberry muffin. And the almond paste strewn throughout the topping, along with a touch of almond flour, gives the nutty flavor of a berry tea cake or financier.
Plus, they're wonderfully easy to transport. Chill them thoroughly, and pack them up for a picnic in the park or sunset boat sail or trip to the beach. Unlike hand pies, which also transport nicely, they're extremely simple to mix up, even for a novice baker.
Meet your summer berry blank canvas.
If you want to riff on the recipe a bit, add some lemon or lime zest to the dough. A dash of cardamom would also be welcome. And if you're a true almond fanatic, add a splash of almond extract with the egg. I threw a few raspberries into my filling, and you can easily do the same, or use all raspberries. Or strawberries! Or blackberries! Meet your summer berry blank canvas.
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