Jam bars. Just what the name implies—a collision of shortbread and preserves cut into bars. Sweet and crumbly and gooey and all around lovely.
These jam bars are, quite frankly, the best jam bars we’ve ever experienced. They’re essentially a thick schmear of your favorite jam sandwiched between layers of crumb crust. During baking, the jam turns molten and the crust turns sweet and crumbly and you simply have to experience it to fully understand its wonderfulness. Thanks to the addition of coconut flakes and almond meal, the crumb crust has a lovely and sturdy texture and make a perfectly portable after-school snack, dessert, even breakfast.–Angie Zoobkoff
☞ Table of Contents
What To Do With Homemade Jam
Some of us who find ourselves compulsively making or buying fruit jam year round could relate to the author’s note on this recipe, which begins, “I can be a bit of a jam hoarder. It’s one of my favorite things to buy at farmers’ markets, and it’s my favorite gift to receive.” If you, like her, tend to hoard jam more than you tend to consume it, consider these lovely jam bars the solution. [Editor’s Note: These jam bars make just as lovely a gift as a jar of preserves. Don’t forget to hand write the recipe on a card and include it with the bars.]
☞ Like jam-filled treats? Try these:
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter softened, plus more for the pan
- 1/4 cup dark or light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg white
- Heaping 1/2 cup of your favorite homemade jam
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking dish or line it with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond meal, flour, coconut, salt, and baking powder.
- In a separate bowl with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the softened butter with the brown and granulated sugars until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg white and beat until well combined.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined, about 15 seconds. The dough will be pretty sticky. If you have time, you can cover and refrigerate the dough for about 15 minutes.
- Dump half the dough over the bottom of the baking dish, using your fingers to press it into an even layer. (Buttering your fingers or using the wrapper from your stick of butter will help keep the dough from sticking to your fingers.)
- Spread the jam over the surface of the dough, leaving a fraction of an inch or a half centimeter space between the jam and the pan so the bars won’t stick quite so much to the pan.
- Top the jam with the remaining dough, using your fingers to make big crumbles of dough. The dough won’t cover the entire surface and that’s okay because some blobs jam left showing in between the crumbles is what makes this dessert so attractive.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the topping starts to turn deeply golden brown.
- Let the jam bars cool in the pan and then cut into bars. The jam bars are best devoured the same day as the bottom crust tends to get a touch soggy if covered and kept overnight.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
My family loved these fabulous jam bars and gave them an 11 out of 10! What a great reward for the seemingly very little effort and time it took to get these into the oven. I used 8 tablespoons butter and added it to my stand mixer while cold right out of the fridge. It took about 5 minutes to soften the butter and mix the sugars together to create a fluffy texture. To save a bowl, I skipped measuring my dry ingredients into a separate bowl and instead I measured them directly into the bowl with the butter and sugar. Once the ingredients were combined they came into a heavy dough. The bottom layer seemed rather thin and I was tempted to use more of the dough for the bottom layer but I’m glad I didn’t because I needed the other half of the dough to dot the top of the jam layer. I used Ikea Blueberry and Raspberry Jam—this was the first time I tried this brand of jam and it was really good. I avoided spreading the jam to the very edges which was a great suggestion otherwise it would have seeped out. I used dried unsweetened coconut flakes as suggested in the recipe, which are heftier than shredded coconut. The flakes added a lovely crunchy texture to the final product. I definitely will be making these jam bars again.
These jam bars came out the way the way jam bars are supposed to, but beware, they are very sweet. Since I don’t have a sweet tooth, the sweetness was quite noticeable to me. For someone with a sweet tooth, these are practically nirvana! The coconut flavor comes through a bit in the end and the almond comes through some in the texture of the crust. This made 12 regular brownie-size bars. There was only the tiniest bit of sogginess in the center pieces but not enough to be a problem. The pan was easily washed clean in hot soapy water. Almost all the tasters praised them. The sticky chewiness of the jelly portion was especially singled out for praise. Even someone who prefers chocolate to most other sweets was a fan. And the backwoods camper thought they’d be great for a camping breakfast.
I love simple bar recipes like this. You get a big payoff for very little work. The bars are chewy and crunchy and jammy in the best way. I used apricot jam which is my favorite, but I think they would also be great with raspberry jam. The dough is very sticky and soft. If you have the time, it might help to refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes before using to make it easier to work with. I baked the bars for 35 minutes and didn’t have any problem with the jam sticking to the pan.
This recipe was easy to make especially with all the ingredients in the pantry. I made my own almond meal by grinding whole almonds in my blade coffee grinder (spice use only). I used raspberry jam for the filling and then dotted the top with the rest of the dough. The result was very tasty. The dough was the perfect balance for the sweetness of the jam. I had to have 2 pieces with a cup of tea to make sure!
These jam bars are the perfect marriage between tart jam and sweet crust layers. The crust receives a depth of flavor and texture with the addition of crisp unsweetened coconut flakes and almond meal. The tops of these bars closely resembles a crumb topping the way that the batter is broken up into pieces and dotted over the jam layer. I used Bonne Mamam Cherry Preserves. I usually double the amount of salt that I add to most baked goods and this recipe definitely benefited from the addition of more salt. It enhanced the crust flavor and overall flavor of the bars. To facilitate removing the bars from the pan, I refrigerated them for 1 hour after they had cooled. They popped out of the pan and cut easily and cleanly. When I took them to an afternoon event, these bars received raves from the crowd. I opted to divide them into 9 and I found that I could have cut them down even further into 12 bars. Everyone wanted to try them. While these bars were very tasty, after sitting in a covered container overnight, they were soggy on the bottom.
The first words of the author’s intro to this recipe had me: “I can be a bit of a jam hoarder.” My problem isn’t buying jam, but that I enjoy making jam a lot more than I enjoy eating it. I’m just a savory breakfast kind of gal, so I rarely find a use for all the jam I make during the summer months. This recipe makes a great bar cookie that can be grabbed on the go and, as a bonus, it uses up a decent amount of jam. I grabbed an unlabeled jar of homemade jam, which turned out, upon opening, to be muscadine. The recipe came together easily. The one variation I made was to substitute a gluten-free flour blend for the all-purpose flour to make a GF bar, and that worked perfectly. I also ended up using more than the 1/2 cup jam called for, more like 3/4 cup. I think the reason for that was that my muscadine jam had whole skins in it, and was thus rather chunky and didn’t spread easily. A smoother-textured jam would be more like to spread in a thin layer. The small amount of coconut in the crust adds a nice texture and flavor to these bars.
These jam bars are tasty sweet treats and, like the author says, a really good way to use up some of that jam you’ve been hoarding (I do that a lot, too!). I initially thought these might be a good breakfast treat, but after making them these are more in the dessert realm or maybe a snack with a cup of dark black coffee. The texture is really great with just the right balance of crunch and chew. I love the addition of shredded coconut to the dough, which I think separates it form your run-of-the-mill not “Best Ever” jam bars. The coconut adds a nice chewy texture but isn’t so assertive that they’ll turn off guests—or, in my case, kids—who are supposedly coconut haters. The kids gobbled their bars with no problem. Definitely note that the recipe asks for UNSWEETENED coconut. The bars are sweet enough and a mistake here can make for treats that are way too sweet. As I mentioned, I am a jam hoarder as well. I used raspberry jam on half of it (1/4 cup), strawberry jam on a quarter of it (2 tbsp) and quince-apple preserves on the last quarter (another 2 tbsp). This really worked great. You might want to use more or less of a particular jam depending on how sweet or “strong” it is. So, the raspberry was perfect, actually a touch less would have been fine, too. The strawberry could have used a bit more. The quince-apple was the weakest in terms of flavor, so more of that would have been very nice. Taste your jam and use to your taste. I really liked working with this dough. It was soft but held its shape so it was very simple to spread it in the bottom of the pan and in large flat chunks on the surface (i aimed to make each one an inch or so). Once baked, the chunks on the surface kind of bubble, spread and come together forming a nice dimpled top crust. When I make this again, I think I’ll try eliminating some sugar from the crust, maybe even cutting it by half. That might be more to my taste.
Originally published February 25, 2017