These Dorie Greenspan’s bar cookies pack layers of flavor and surprises. Fruity berries flourish on top. The sweet velvety custard and the chewy grainy cornmeal crust settle at the bottom. They are very easy to like. Until you realize it, you could have eaten a few of these in short order.
These cookies have their origin in the South. This is how Dorie describes them:
“Except for one dream-worthy buttermilk pie that I had at Husk in Nashville, which was made by the uber-talented pastry chef Lisa Donovan, I have no connection to this Southern specialty. But I couldn’t get that pie out of my head, and I couldn’t stop thinking it would make a good bar cookie.”
As usual, Dorie puts in all the right details and visual cues to ensure good results in the home kitchen with this recipe. To start, press the cornmeal crust mixture in a square pan and bake until golden brown. As the crust cools, prepare the filling. I was impatient; I chilled the crust in the fridge to speed up the cooling. The filling is a mixture of cornstarch, buttermilk, eggs, sugar, flour and butter. Top the cornmeal crust with the filling and the fresh blueberries, (which I froze briefly). The blueberries burst and bloom as they bake in the oven.
Some quick tips:
- If I bake these cookies again, I would surely reduce the amount of sugar by at least a third.
- Mixed berries or seasonal stone fruits are good alternatives to the blueberries. Any frozen berries could do the job well here.
- I used a medium ground cornmeal and the texture of the cookies were on the rougher side than I’d have liked. I would sift out and extract some of the rougher bran for an easier bite. Come to think of it, any wheat bran can adequately fill in for the earthy, sandy and grainy feel of the cornmeal. That would put wheat bran, which I have on hand all the time from bread-making, to some good use. Another superb alternative to cornmeal is semolina flour, which I believe would make this cookie sturdier with a fantastic mouthfeel.
Some Tuesday-with-Dorie’s bakers are making these cookies this week. Check to see what our experiences have been with this recipe. Better yet, come and bake along with us.