I used to be a savory-foods person. It’s not that desserts didn’t interest me; main courses just interested me more. Brunch meant omelettes, hash browns and bacon, never stuffed French toast or pancakes. And back when I had self-control around food, that was good enough for me, just my salty delights. Now I just eat everything. But that’s neither here nor there.
Lately, I’ve been loving sweet foods like…well…like a fat kid love cake. And so to feed my addiction I’ve been baking most Wednesdays to bring treats to my night class. There’s only six of us plus the professor I have a mondo girl-crush on, so it’s easy to make more than enough, plus I drive in, so I can bring in Tupperware after Tupperware stuffed full of artery-clogging pieces of heaven. Sometimes I try to connect the goodies to the theme of the class (“Health Promotion for Children and Adolescents”). For our lesson on obesity and eating disorders, I made low-fat cookies. Aaaand that’s about the only connection I’ve made. So for tonight’s class I needed to use up some blueberries and was thrilled to find a recipe that didn’t require going out to buy ingredients. Keep in mind I live in my parents’ house, which my sister calls Kitchen Stadium since we are so well-stocked it’s almost embarrassing, AND we possess every appliance one could want. A toaster, toaster oven, panini maker AND George Foreman? You betchers.
A simple search for blueberries in the index of my mom’s Cake Doctor cookbook (provider of the recipe for my signature rum cake, too. This book is standing up with me at the chuppah in February) led me to what can only be described as portable dessert heaven: Cinnamon Blueberry Crumble Bars. So buttery, rich, fruity, oatmealy, grahamy without any graham in the recipe…the final product can only be described as simply luscious. For someone who is basically a 3-D Cathy cartoon, AAACK!ing and demanding chocolate and sweating in neat spritzy lines off my forehead, a non-chocolate dessert doesn’t usually do it for me, but this makes me forget all about chocolate. Oh. Yes.
Follow these instructions to bliss
You will need: 1 package yellow cake mix (the foundation for all things happiness-inducing), 2 sticks melted butter, 1 cup oatmeal (I used Quaker Oats), ½ cup packed light brown sugar, 2 large eggs (I used one container Egg Beaters), 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained, ½ cup granulated sugar (I used Splenda for baking because I had a convenient half-cup trial size and ya know wanted to avoid a whole 27 calories). As you can see, I used “healthful” substitutes in two places. And it was STILL the best damn thing I’ve put in my mouth since Joe’s potato casserole last April. I don’t see how using actual eggs or real sugar could make it at all better- as I said, perfection– but do try!
- Preheat oven to 350, place rack in center of oven. Get out your 13×9 pan and don’t grease it. Resist! You don’t need to!
- Blend cake mix, oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, eggs and melted butter in a large bowl on low speed for 1-2 minutes. It won’t take long to combine. Reserve 1.5 cups of the batter for your crumb topping, and plop the rest into the baking pan, using your fingers to spread it evenly into the bottom and corners of the pan.
- In a smaller bowl mix the granulated sugar with the blueberries until the blueberries are nicely coated. This is the filling. Dump it into the pan on top of the crust and spread it around.
- Use the 1.5 cups leftover batter and in pinches, plop it on top of the filling, says the Cake Doctor. I spread it somewhat thinly over a majority of the filling to excellent results.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes. It is done when it’s light brown and bubbling. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting into 24 bars. Drooling yet? I set the timer for 40, it went off, I curled one set of eyelashes and applied two coats of mascara, and went down to remove my prize. So that’s like what, 42.5 minutes? They were warm, and the center ones had a slight goo factor that is really just indescribable, while the edge pieces had a chewy crust bordering the crumbly, soft filling. Then I almost left the house with only one eye’s lashes curled and mascara’d. Please try to avoid this step when making the dessert J
Moral of the story: I try to avoid eating “junk food” in general and I ate 7 of these and didn’t even feel bad. I pretty much moaned in ecstasy over the pan for a good 20 minutes. Bake, love, and thank me later. And of course, thank the Cake Doctor.