Just in time for barbecues and beach picnics (socially distanced, of course), Lemony Blueberry Bars with Chunky Almond Crumble are the perfect packable sweet treat. If you’re a fan of blueberry pie with crumble topping, you’ll love these. 

This is number seven in our Baking Together series. Every month I provide a new baking recipe with ideas for ways to vary it, and then I invite you all to make it and leave your notes and variations in the comments section.

This month I’m taking advantage of all the great blueberries coming in and also showing you a few quick tricks. First, to make a smooth, even filling, I mash a small amount of the berries along with the flour, sugar, and any flavorings before stirring in the remaining fruit. This way the dry ingredients blend with the mashed berries so you avoid those nasty pockets of flour and uneven thickening of the filling. It’s a great method – give it a try when you make your next fruit pie, tart or galette.

As for the filling’s flavoring, I prefer to keep it all about the blueberry by adding only a pinch of salt and lemon zest to heighten and elevate but not overpower the bright, rich essence of the berry. That said, you should feel free to experiment with a splash of vanilla extract, ginger (fresh or crystalized), or cinnamon. Just use a light touch. Or you could even replace the blueberries with a mix of blueberries and other berries.  

The base and crumble topping are made together in the food processor and then divided. One half of the dough is pressed into the pan to form the cookie’s base, and the remainder is tossed with some chunky toasted almonds to use as the crumbly topping. The nuts give the topping a great texture. And while I love the flavor of toasted almonds with blueberry, I also think pecans or hazelnuts would be nice, too. And if you want to jazz up the flavor of the topping, toss some chopped crystalized ginger or chopped chocolate (white or bittersweet) into the topping before scattering it over the filling. 

Once you’ve made the bar cookies, be sure and leave us a note in the comments section below the recipe about how you served them or what variations you’ve tried. Tell us if you did anything differently with the base and crumbled topping or the fruit filling. Did you use a different flavor profile for the filling? Maybe you added cinnamon to the topping along with a different nut? Did you serve them with a scoop of ice cream? What is your summertime favorite flavor? Or, maybe you topped them with my stabilized whipped mascarpone cream that we made together last month. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

And if you’re new to our Baking Together column, be sure to check out our other recipes: One Bowl Vanilla Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting; Pumpkin Cream Cheese Tart with Crushed Pretzel Crust, Butter Pecan Slice-and-Bake Cookies, Lemon Rosemary Parmesan Scones, Pie Plate Chocolate Chippers, Cream Cheese Pound Cake, Strawberry Shortcake.

Abby Dodge is the author of many cookbooks, including The Everyday Baker.