Monday, August 9, 2010

Strawberry Blueberry Custard Squares

Now that the bar exam is over, my life is my own again. I get to sleep in past 7 a.m., I don't have to care anymore about who really owns Blackacre, I can have hobbies again, and most importantly, I can finally read for pleasure whenever I feel like it.  So, I was pretty pumped when Dan's parents surprised me with a Kindle last week. Instant downloads of any book I want for free/discounted prices??? Awesome!

While browsing through the online Kindle store, I stumbled across a series by Joanne Fluke. It was the title of the books that really caught my eye -- "Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder," "Strawberry Shortcake Murder," "Peach Cobbler Murder," etc. After downloading the first book in the series, I was completely hooked. Each book follows the heroine, a successful bakery owner, as she helps solve the seemingly endless (but somehow unexpected) murders in her small town. Naturally, all of the murders involve her baked goods in one way or another -- hence, the titles. Best of all each chapter also contains at least one recipe for the treats she creates along the way. 

I love the series as much for the mouthwatering recipes as for the very entertaining story lines. Naturally, I am planning to test out everything that sounds good, which is definitely going to take a while. First up = Strawberry Custard Squares.

This recipe is very straight forward -- a simple shortbread crust is covered with fresh fruit, then smothered with custard. Strawberries aren't really in season now, but the ones on display at my grocery store looked pretty good, so I bought two cartons. In the end, three cups of sliced strawberries took too long to chop, and my hands got tired, so I just threw on a few handfuls of blueberries to supplement the missing fruit.

The resulting concoction tasted a bit like a cross between a pie and a fruit tart. The crust was buttery and crumbly, but less sweet than a regular shortbread; the fruit was explode-in-your-mouth juicy from cooking in the oven, and the custard was creamy and not overly sweet. Delicious!

Hannah Swensen's Strawberry Custard Squares (From "Peach Cobbler Murder")

(First layer)
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick chilled butter
- 2 tbsp whipping cream
- 1/2 cup flour (not a typo!)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups sliced strawberries (or whatever fruit you want)

- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (or strawberry if you have it)

(1) Preheat oven to 375.
(2) Spray a 13x9 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
(3) In a small bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture looks like course sand.
(4) Stir in the 2 tbsp cream. Pat dough into bottom of cake pan.
(5) In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup flour and sugar. Sprinkle it over the crust in the pan.
(6) Arrange sliced strawberries on top. Set aside.
(7) In a medium sized bowl, mix sugar and flour.
(8) Sir in the eggs, cream, and vanilla. Pour mixture over the top of the fruit in the pan.
(9) Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.
(10) Cool on a rack, then refrigerate.
(11) Serve warm or chill, with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream for a topping.

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