Cardamom Berry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

These cardamom berry oatmeal crumble bars might be my new go-to for casual summer potlucks. They’re sweet and chewy, but they’ve got a little spice from the cardamom, and some whole wheat flour to make them a bit hearty. Plus, the berries mean they just taste like summer.
Cardamom Berry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

Cardamom Berry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

These are made with raspberries and blackberries, but you could use all of one berry type or the other. Or go nuts and use marionberries, loganberries, or black raspberries. Yeah, those are all real berries that grow here in Oregon. We have more weird berry types than you can shake a stick at.

My original plan was to make these bars with all raspberries, until I realized right before I started baking that I needed a lot more berries than I’d bought. But then I remembered that blackberries are in season here, and in the Pacific Northwest, they grow like weeds. I’m not kidding–the non-native invasive blackberries are constantly trying to take over. Including in the alley behind my house, where they grow prolifically between the back fences and the street. So I did some urban foraging, and picked a couple of cups of alley berries.

“Alley berries–better than they sound!” That’s my new ad campaign slogan for urban foraged blackberries. They’re going to blow up any day now, I swear.

Cardamom Berry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

Picking the berries probably took the same amount of time it would’ve to go to the store and buy them, but it was free, plus I felt like I was doing my part to help prevent the spread of invasive weeds–fewer berries for the birds means fewer seeds. Plus, urban foraging just sounds cool, doesn’t it? Maybe next year I’ll make these with raspberries from my yard, too (who am I kidding–they’d never make it into a bar, because I eat them all straight from the bush).

Cardamom Berry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

If you don’t have homegrown berries, or even fresh berries, don’t worry, you can still make these berry oatmeal crumble bars. I don’t see any reason why this recipe wouldn’t work with frozen raspberries or blackberries.

 

Cardamom Berry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

Cardamom Berry Oatmeal Crumble Bars

For the berry filling:
10 oz (about 2 heaping cups) blackberries
6 oz (about 1 heaping cup) raspberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the crust:
1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup white all-purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup old-fashioned oats

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the berries, sugar and water until the mixture comes to a boil. Turn the heat down, and simmer, stirring, for 25 to 30 minutes. Mash the blackberries as they cook to help them break down. You know the mixture is ready when it has thickened to the texture of jam, and when you scrape it away from the bottom of the pan, it doesn’t immediately re-cover the area you scraped. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract, and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 350F and line a square 8-inch ceramic or glass pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars for 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat for another minute.

In a separate bowl or sifter, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients and oats into the wet ingredients.

Place half of batter into prepared pan, spreading to the edges. With your hands or a spatula, press batter layer so that it’s flat and even. Spread the blackberry jam evenly over the crust. Break the remaining oatmeal batter into pieces and place over jam. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the bars comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

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