It’s the change of seasons and it also means changes for us. We’ve bought a house in upstate New York and have to do a bunch of things for the new house (like fix stinky well water). I have to admit, I wish I could’ve teleported all our belongings. William makes fun of me because we always end up moving right before Thanksgiving (much to my doing). Then we host guests for Thanksgiving, and right before they arrive, I distribute a seriously long to-do list with an aggressive timeline. An itty bitty detail I can over look is that we’re a two person team, just us. The year we moved into the loft we built walls: installed the studs, drywalled, sanded and painted. The last coat of paint was still drying when my mom arrived.
Fall also means a few food things: pumpkins and plums. Ok, maybe those two things don’t go together, but individually, they’re my favorites. Another favorite of mine is shortbread. I normally make it once a year, around the holidays. A good way to squeak in some shortbread is in a bar. These bars have a rich shortbread base, plum vanilla filling, and crumble topping. Sounds good? It is! It is a three step process. You can make the filling a day in advance. It will hold since it’s essentially a dense jam. There are so many different types of plums. You can choose one, or mix and match.
Plum Bars Recipe
First, make the crumble topping, then the shortbread. While the shortbread is baking, make the plum filling. Assemble and bake together.
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 almond slices, toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter
- Mix dry ingredients on medium bowl
- Cut butter into cubes then, using a pastry cutter, cut into dry mixture until pea sized mixture is formed. Should be crumbly looking
- Place in fridge until ready to use
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks of butter (3/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Combine flour and salt in a small bowl, set aside.
- Cream butter and both sugars together. Add vanilla and mix.
- Slowly incorporate flour mixture until combined.
- Press into a greased 8 x 8 baking dish. (I used a vintage baking dish with a textured bottom, so I lined my pan with parchment. It does make the bars easier to take out if you pan is fussy.)
- Press shortbread dough into the pan spreading evenly. Use a glass as a small rolling pin to even out if necessary.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.
- 5-6 cups plums, pitted and sliced
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- Add plums and water to wide pan and heat through, them add sugar and vanilla paste
- Cook over medium heat until plums begin to break down, about 30 mins
- Let mixture cool a bit and transfer to food processor, and give it a whirl
- Put the mixture back in the pan, and continue to cook until thick paste forms, making sure to stir constantly, it will burn if you don’t stir!
- When you can scrape your spoon through the mixture and you see a trail, you’re almost there. This should take about 15 minutes. (Make sure you really cook this down enough. If you don’t the filling will be too runny and not hold the bar shape. You really have to get all the water out of the fruit. This step it really critical!)
- Once you see a thick paste form, you’re done, spread over shortbread and sprinkle crumble topping on top of the plum filling layer.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the toping begins to brown.
- Remove form oven and let cool. Cut into bars to serve. Store in fridge to keep filing firm.