Blueberry Cream Cheese Cookie Bars

One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of fresh, ripe fruits and veggies. I feel like skipping through the produce isle sometimes, because everything looks colorful and like it was grown in actual sunshine, not a greenhouse. No more sad sack, lackluster tomatoes for me! (Until winter. Boo.)
In the spirit of summer, I tried to go blueberry picking with a few friends this weekend, which is the sort of thing that probably belongs in Stuff White People Like. I mean, I’m paying money to pick fruit, which is the sort of thing people normally get paid FOR. Summer sunshine has probably made me weird in the head, but I really wanted to do it. So quaint! However, I had misread the times on the website, and we arrived too late to pick any berries. Because they had an awesome little café, we ended staying for lunch, which ended up being wonderful too.
While I plan to go for Blueberry Picking Round Two soon, the visit to the café put blueberry desserts on my brain. I stocked up on several pints at the store (like a boring person), and went at it. The first attempt was a crumble of sorts with a cookie crust. It was edible, but nothing special. Then I remembered a lemon blueberry cake I made for the county fair one time as a kid. (Shout out to 4-H!) So I combined the ideas – a dense, satisfying sugar cookie crust, with a zingy blueberry cream cheese spread on top. I garnished it with a fresh cherry on each piece, pitted and cut in half, but I imagine any fresh berry would be equally as delicious. This recipe is simple, and save for cooling time, comes together in a flash.


Blueberry Cream Cheese Cookie Bars
Cookie crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 block (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Cherries for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and stir until combined. Press into the 8×8 pan, until the dough is about ½ inch thick and even. I ended up having about a spoonful of dough left over, but I’ve never considered extra cookie dough to be a “problem.” Bake for 14-18 minutes, until just the edges are turning brown. Cool completely – this process can be sped up in the refrigerator.
In a medium mixing bowl, whip all ingredients for the topping except the cherries (or whatever garnish you’re using) until the mixture is fluffy and tinged purple from the smashed blueberries. Spread over the cookie crust, add your chosen garnish, and chill, covered, in the fridge until serving.