Blueberry Harvest Squares

Alma, Georgia, is the state’s blueberry capital with an annual blueberry festival at the start of June. Diane Carter, a magistrate in Bacon County — where Alma is located — won the festival’s annual cooking contest with this recipe. I don’t know what year that would have been, since I clipped this from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution more than 10 years ago, but I give Diane full credit for coming up with a delicious dessert. I didn’t alter a thing when I made this recipe today and it managed to earn lots of raves.

This is a wonderful recipe for the summer, when blueberries are fresh and you may be looking for a new way to use them. It’s the kind of dessert that would be great for a bake sale or pot luck — though I warn you that it’s very gooey. The cooler they get, the easier it is to lift the bars, though you still have to be careful. And even then, it will still be gooey.

It’s easy to make and you can do each step while waiting for the previous one to finish. The hardest part is waiting until it cools to cut into it. And if you can’t wait, then forget a knife — just grab a spoon and dig in.

FOR THE CRUST:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
3/4 cup margarine

FOR THE FILLING:
2 cups blueberries
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar

FOR THE TOPPING:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup chopped almonds
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut

For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan. Combine flour, salt, sugar, and chopped nuts. Cut in the margarine until it resembles fine crumbs. Press it into the bottom of the pan, coming slightly up the sides. Place it in the oven and bake about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and increase temperature to 375F degrees.

For the filling:
In a medium mixing bowl, combine blueberries, lemon juice, and flour. Place blueberries on top of the baked crust. Sprinkle with sugar. Return pan to oven and bake for 20 minutes.

For the topping:
In a medium mixing bowl, combine sugar, evaporated milk, egg, vanilla and almond extracts, nuts, and coconut. Mix well. Spoon over the baked blueberries. Return to oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool before cutting.

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