I’m canning less than I used to (I blame this year’s interminable heat, coupled with an increasingly demanding job that leaves me less energy for big kitchen projects), but I still have a perpetual spare-jam supply. Beyond my big holiday distribution, I always hoard a few jars just in case I need them for eating or gifts throughout the year, plus there always seems to be one in every batch that doesn’t seal properly and has to get added to the crowd in the back of the fridge, where it languishes long enough for me to forget when it was made.
When blueberry-picking time rolled around this year and I prepared to make a fresh batch of blueberry-lime jam, I discovered to my chagrin not only a big jar still left over from last year in my stash under the bed, but also two open, partially used jars of indeterminate age floating around in the refrigerator. I have coworkers who will happily polish off any extra jam I happen to have, but I felt odd trying to give away such old stuff, even though I knew it was perfectly safe to eat (with so much sugar and acid, jam rarely goes bad, and if it does it tells you so by getting moldy—but it should still be eaten within a year, and the texture does alter a bit with age).
I needed a recipe that would use up a lot of jam and mitigate any potential staleness, and I quickly found just the thing at Two Peas and Their Pod: easy bars that sandwich the fruit between a simple crust and a crumb topping. I had made similar jam bars once before, but they were loaded with butter and sugar, and even though I wrote about them so enthusiastically here, I never made them again. This new recipe has less sugar and half the fat, uses coconut oil instead of butter, and replaces white flour with whole wheat. It’s still not health food, but it’s less overwhelmingly rich and actually tastes better too; the nuttiness of the wheat and almonds and the slight coconut flavor add a nice counterpoint to the sweet preserves. These bars make an addictive dessert—I brought them to a picnic and they were a big hit—but it wouldn’t be totally crazy to eat them for breakfast or a snack, either. In short, I’m in love, and very sorry to have gotten my jam situation so well under control that I don’t have any left over to make more jam bars. Yes, I could just buy jam at the store, but that seems like cheating… So as soon as the weather cools off (please let it cool off!), I’ve got to get canning, stat. In the meantime, if you’ve got homemade jam from me (or another source) sitting around gathering dust, this is a great way to use it up.
1½ cups white whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (I also added a pinch of cardamom)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup coconut oil, at room temperature
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup sliced almonds
¾ cup fruit jam
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray or coconut oil. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream coconut oil and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix well. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the flour mixture. Mix until combined (the dough will be crumbly). Stir in the sliced almonds.
- Gently press half the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Evenly spread jam over dough. Sprinkle remaining dough over the top, making sure you cover the entire thing. Press gently to form the top layer.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cool completely and cut into squares.
Time: 40 minutes
Leftover potential: Good; freezes well.