Let me introduce you to flavorful, tart and sweet gooseberry bars! Until last year the only thing I knew about gooseberries was that my Uncle Matt got one stuck in his nose when he was a kid at his grandmother's house.
Matt: Grandma, I think I have a gooseberry up my nose.
Grandma: What do you mean you think you have a a gooseberry up your nose!? You know darn well you have a gooseberry up your nose!
Well, several years back I got my dad a gooseberry bush for his abundant backyard garden. It didn't really produce anything. He bought a few more to go with it. Some berries grew, but a deer ate them. The gooseberry bushes became quite the ordeal over years! Sorry Dad! Well, finally last year it became all worth it as the bushes have now been covered in delicious gooseberries for the past two summers. They are excellent for jam, pie, and of course the bars.
In fact, I based this recipe off of one I found for rhubarb bars, which, by the way, are also quite excellent.
The first step in making the bars is making one of my favorite things, curd. Yummy, creamy, luscious fruit curd. Yes, making desserts with fruit curd is amazing, but I'm often tempted to just eat it all with a spoon before I get around to doing anything else with it. If you use your gooseberries right away, you should have a light greenish-yellow colored curd. I waited a while after I picked them and some of my gooseberries started to ripen, so I ended up with an orangey-peachy color. They do get a little sweeter as they ripen, but they have a better flavor green. Then all you need to do is pour the curd onto a shortbread crust, bake, and cool.
You will notice that gooseberries have a little brown "stem" on each of them. I think it is what is leftover of the flower. These need to be taken off before you cook with them, which can be kind of a pain and take a while, but if you have some good company to have a conversation with or a good movie to watch it's not so bad. I just used a pair of nail scissors to snip each one off.
To prepare the gooseberries:
Combine 2 cups of cleaned gooseberries in a saucepan with 1/3 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar. Let it cook down until berries are soft and given off a lot of liquid. (Think of the first stage of making jam.)
For the curd:
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup of sugar
a pinch of salt
3 1/2 Tbsp butter, cut into small chunks
2 cups prepared gooseberries
In a double boiler whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt.
Add in the gooseberries and continue whisking.
Remove from heat, and the butter pieces one at a time, whisking as you go.
You can stop here and use the curd on cake, scones, biscuits, or just a spoon. Continue with the crust if you want to make bars.
For the crust:
1 stick of butter - room temperature
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup of sugar
a pinch of salt
Mix ingredients in a bowl until it resembles course crumbs. Press into an 8 x 8 baking dish and let rest for 15 minutes.
Putting it all together
Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Remove the crust and pour on your gooseberry curd. Bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the bars from the oven and let them cool before serving.
Make sure you have some sort of party or gathering to bring them to so you don't eat them all yourself! (Or if you want them all to yourself, make sure you hide them!)
Bonus - bars are much harder to stick up your nose than just a gooseberry itself. (Though I wouldn't put it past some kids to give it a try!)