Monday, February 11, 2019

Shortbread Jam Bars

Unbelievable butter flavor and wonderful chewy texture are the main two characteristics of these crowd pleasing dessert. Have no doubt, everyone will love it!

Blog's Category: Cookies, Dessert, Holidays, My Staple Food, Ukrainian

These cookie bars were very popular at the time of my childhood, back in Ukraine. Every mom knew the recipe and baked these. We called it Bulk or Grated Pie. Ingredients are very simple, homemade fruit jams were readily available in every household. Although butter was sometimes a huge deficit, so our moms often used margarine. No, no, no, it's not what we are going to do here. We will be using real stuff - beautiful natural flavorful Butter! Try this recipe, you won't regret it.


- Recipe below is for one batch (one baking sheet), but pictures underneath shows a process of me making two batches, one with black current jam and one with orange jam. 

- Surprise, surprise - recipe doesn't call for vanilla. You will be tempted to add just a bit, but please don't do this - preserve the incredible pristine aroma of natural butter!

- Don't forget to take your butter out of fridge day before making these cookies. If you forgot to do this, no worry, just pop butter in a microwave for about 20-30 seconds to soften it.

Shortbread Jam Bars

For 1 batch (about 20  3"x3" bars):
  • egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 250g (2 and 1/3 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, preferably sifted
  • 1/2 tsp soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tap cold water
  • 18 oz jar of orange jam (about 500g) (or any other jam)
  • zest of 2 oranges (optional), to amplify orange flavor

- With electric mixer, whip together egg yolks and sugar until sugar is almost dissolved.

- Cut up your butter, add it to egg mix. Beat with a mixer just until it incorporated into the eggs mixture.

- In a separate bowl, mix in soda and salt into your flour. Now add all flour at once to a butter/egg mixture. Beat with a mixer until you get crumbly mixture. Add 1 tbsp vinegar and 1 tbsp water and beat again for a few seconds just until your crumbs become more moist and come together in a bigger crumbs. At this point you should be able to squeeze crumbs in a bowl into a somewhat crumbly ball of dough. Transfer it onto lightly flour surface and mix just until it forms into a hard ball of dough.

- Divide dough into two uneven parts, one should be twice bigger than other, approximately. Wrap each piece of dough into plastic wrap and place into a freezer for two hours*.

- Turn your oven on to 375F.

- Line regular size (13"x18") baking sheet with a parchment paper. Using course side of grater, grate big piece of dough right into the baking sheet and distribute it evenly. Tap dough down using your palm and fingers, not too much though. 

- Transfer orange jam from a jar to a bowl, add orange zest and mix well. Spread jam evenly onto the layer of dough in a baking sheet.

- Grate the remaining small piece of dough on top of jam layer, make sure it distributed evenly.

- Bake in a preheated to 375F oven for about 30 minutes or until it's golden.

- Remove from an oven and let it cool down completely before cutting it into bars**.

- It will keep at room temperature, covered, for a week of two. Enjoy! 

* Dough can be made in advance and froze for up to one week. Just note that if will be in a freezer for more than a couple of hours, it will be much harder to grate it - use a heavy equipment then (my husband loves to do this job ;) )
** If you will try cut it up while it is still hot or warm, it will crumble easily.


These pictures are showing me making two batches of these cookie bars - one will be with orange jam, fortified with a zest of two oranges for a brighter orange flavor. The other batch will be with Ukrainians favorite jam - black currant. Black currant has strong unique flavor like nothing else.

Soda and salt are mixed into a sifted flour. Sifting is optional, if you are in a hurry, it's fine to omit, I believe.

Soft butter, cut in pieces, is added to egg/sugar mix.

Don't be alarmed that your dough doesn't look like dough. Just yet.

 After adding spoon of vinegar and spoon of water, it will start to come together. Now use your hands to form a ball.

 Couple pushes back and force on lightly floured surface, and your dough is done. Don't over-mix.

 Here is my two-batch dough pieces, two large and two small. I will use two baking sheets. Large pieces will go for a bottom layer, small pieces will be for a top layer. Jam goes in between.

 After two hours in a freezer, it is easy to grate. Once I froze my dough overnight and it was really hard to grate (Thank you, hubby, for a helping hand!)

 Press down.
Jar from orange marmalade (jam). I've got this one from Aldi.

 Orange jam with orange zest is spread onto the first layer of dough. I forgot to make picture of me zesting oranges and adding it to a jam ;( But I'm sure you can figure out how to do this :) I used other, finer, side of the same grater to zest oranges. Just make sure you are taking off just upper, bright orange, layer of orange skin.

 It's almost done. The top layer of dough. No need to tap down this layer.
 Ready to go to an oven!

Black current preserve. Yumm...

 As my regular size baking sheet was already taken for orange bars, I had to use half of my huge baking sheet. Well.. it worked just fine.

 They are done. Now it is important to let them to cool down.

 Now, when cooled completely, it is easy to cut it into 3"x3" cookie bars.

Later, I cut bigger bars into smaller petite ones. Chewy, with wonderful butter aroma, melting in your mouth, these are scrumptious! 

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