I went on a quest to find sour pie cherries in Oregon and ended up picking 4 lbs. of blueberries instead. The PNW got hit hard with an historic heatwave recently. Portland climbed up to 116°F and we are all still recovering. Crops either got fried or the picking seasons shifted, hitting weeks early. Sour cherries are already hard to find here and my plans to pick some from a local farm were foiled by the hot, hot heat. On the plus side, blueberries were ripe for the picking at Bella Organic Farm near Portland on Sauvie Island. So I loaded my basket with bloobs, brought them home and baked up these delightfully summery Blueberry Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Shortbread Bars instead.
The northwest is the greatest place in the world for fresh berries. We really know how to grow 'em out here. When berry season hits, things get vibrant, lush and abundant.
After failing at finding sour cherries, developing these Blueberry Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Shortbread Bars turned my sour puss frown upside down. For this recipe, i riffed a bit off of my old recipe for Red Currant Lemon Crumble Bars. Here I kept the berries fresh, instead of baking them in. These bars are bright, sunny and literally bursting with summer flavors. You can't help but be happy when these bars are in front you. They've got 3 layers of goodness that hit you over the head with happiness.
3 simple components combine into 1 satisfyingly sweet recipe!
- Poppy Seed Shortbread - This shortbread cookie base is a basic mix of a handful of ingredients that blend together in moments. The press-in crust keeps things super simple with flour, butter, sugar, almond extract, poppy seeds and salt.
- Lemon Curd - The zippy lemon curd brings a concentrated brightness to the middle layer. Its zesty, sunny, sweet and stunning. And the perfect complement to the bursting blueberries.
- Fresh Blueberries - Since bloobs are at their peak right now, I didn't want to manipulate the fruit in any way. The fresh berries just get sprinkled over the top of the lemon curd bars to highlight the freshest summer blueberries.
Don't let the idea of 3 separate components deter you from these Blueberry Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Shortbread Bars. The poppy seed shortbread crust couldn't be easier to make. It's a quick mixer that just get pressed into the pan by hand, then baked.
The lemon curd is the most complicated layer because you need to use a double boiler situation. But I promise, it's easier than you think. Once you get the hang of the technique, you can experiment with all kinds of curds! Think lime, grapefruit or even rhubarb! So much deliciousness to be had. The blueberry layer is zero work. You literally just sprinkle fresh blueberries over the top of the bars. So that one is a gimme.
The buttery shortbread against the creamy and tart lemon curd is a proportionate play in texture and flavor. The fresh blueberries scream summer, making these snackable bars extra special.
I am a big fan of these Blueberry Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Shortbread Bars because they are rustic and messy. The messier, the better, in my eyes. We aren't looking for perfection here. Peak season blueberries are already perfect on their own. These bars just provide a beautiful base for them to shine.
Adaptability is the spice of life.
Another bonus about this recipe is that its infinitely adaptable. The fruit swaps alone offer all kinds of options. You can use any berry you like. If you didn't miss your window on fresh picking cherries, pile up some farm fresh cherries in place of blueberries! You can get creative with your curd flavors too. I use almond extract in the shortbread but vanilla is always an option. Not into poppy seeds, leave them out. Maybe even add some ginger or a few cracks of fresh pink peppercorns to the shortbread to spice things up.
This recipe makes 20 bars, just enough for a picnic or party with friends. But there will be no judgements if you want to just dive in face first, forking bite after bite straight from the source. If you want to get extra fancy with it, whip up some heavy cream for a dollop of whipped cream topping. It somehow elevates the flavors even more. Make these Blueberry Lemon Curd Poppy Seed Shortbread Bars and you'll see just how shiny and happy you can be!Print