Delicious Five-Spice Prune Bars

The most delicious streusel bar cookie with a layer of spiced prune jam sandwiched between a shortbread crust and streusel. YUM!

As promised, these Delicious Five-Spice Prune Bars are the second recipe using a spiced prune jam (you can see the first one here); both done in collaboration with the lovely people over at California Prunes! The Flaky Danishes use a spiced prune jam…so if Chinese five-spice powder isn’t your jam, then head over there for the version with cinnamon and nutmeg, sans five-spice.

Some beautiful bar cookies, if I do say so myself

WHY YOU SHOULD BAKE THESE RIGHT NOW (seriously)

  • JAM BAR LOVE. Jam bars are one of life’s great pleasures. They literally have it all in terms of taste and texture: crunchy streusel gives way to a smooth, spiced jam and it’s all held together by a buttery crust. I love the bright pop of the vanilla-cream glaze on top!
  • PRUNE JAM GOALS. When I was working on the Flaky Prune Danishes I got sooo many messages on Instagram of people professing their love of prunes — they are delicious, loaded with antioxidants and the perfect snack. This jam is AWESOME with gooey cheeses…so basically, the jam alone is not to be missed…but make the bar cookies AND the danishes and your life will be fab.
  • MAKE AHEAD. You KNOW I love me some make ahead treats and this one has it all! The cookie crust, jam and streusel can all be made 2-3 days ahead of time. I would make the glaze the day off only because it firms up the longer it sits (it’s quite thick)…but if you don’t mind adding more cream prior to serving, make it ahead as well!

Let’s make some delicious Five-Spice Prune Bars, shall we?

A side view of some badass cookie bars

The bar cookie life choose me…it really did. They get me every time. They’re a fabulous concoction of flavors and textures and have infinite possibilities to customize.

How to Make These Bar Cookies Your Own

SPICES. I use Chinese Five-Spice Powder (which I get into in more detail down below) to spice up the jam, but you can use another spice combination if you’d like. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves (just a little bit), allspice and cardamom would be great in these as well.

COOKIE CRUST. Infusing flavor into the jam bar cookie crusts is a great way to add jazz hands to your cookie. You can add in spices, herbs, zest and extracts to infuse a little more flavor. I wanted to go for a sugar cookie vibe with these bars, so they just have some vanilla for flavoring.

JAM. This is the simplest jam you will everrrr make!! You throw everything in a high-speed blender or food processor and blitz away. Boom. You’re done. I give you a tip down below in the jam section if you don’t have either in your kitchen. Have fun playing around with spices and extracts in here as well, if you’re so inclined.

STREUSEL. I love streusel on EVERYTHING. This one holds its shape beautifully and isn’t dry at all. It’s buttery, but also not greasy. You can futz around with the spices in here…if you love five-spice powder like I do, then consider adding some to the streusel in place of the cinnamon and nutmeg (I would first test it with 1 teaspoon in place of the two spices). I also use sliced almonds in the streusel. If you don’t like nuts simply omit. You could also add in another nut: pecans or hazelnuts would be delicious!

Close up pic of yummy fruit bar cookies

FIVE-SPICE PRUNE JAM IS MY JAM

I grabbed all of my favorite components from two of my most loved jams (this Cherry Jam and these Five-Spice Cranberries (not quite a jam but jam-adjacent)) and married the two for this fabulous five-spice prune jam.

It’s super simple to throw together — it takes less than five minutes! Throw everything in a high-speed blender or food processor and run on medium high until smooth. It’s that easy!

Prunes are naturally sweet so there is very little sugar needed (if any). I just love the combination of brown sugar in with the prunes and five spice, that I added just a touch to round out the flavor profile.

Quick sidebar, but I’ve been using prunes when I make cashew milk and they worked beautifully to naturally sweeten things up. Do it!

TIP
If you don’t have a high-speed blender or food processor, very finely mince up the prunes and mix everything together. Done!

A bunch of prune bars

STREUSEL PARTY
AND
YOUR INVITED

Streusel is the heavenly combination of flour, sugar and butter. Mixed until it has the consistency of wet sand, it should be able to hold as clumps which pinched together. You want it to not be dry and conversely you want it to hold it’s shape (and not melt) whilst cooking. It’s a dance.

To give this streusel some jazz hands, I added in spices (cinnamon and nutmeg) and sliced almonds. Some people add oatmeal to their streusel which is delicious and I’ve been known to do so on occasion. It adds yummy, oat-y flavor and more texture.

Streusel benefits from some time in the fridge before baking so that the butter can firm up again…this helps with it maintaining some structure while baking. This is why we make it early in the recipe so it has time to chill.

I’ve got some more streusel recipes for you right here:

A five-spice prune bar

CHINESE FIVE-SPICE POWDER…
ALL THE KIDS ARE USING IT

Chinese five-spice is sooooo good in baked treats and is one of my favorite spice blends to use around the holidays. Tt’s got everything you need for Jingle Bells jazz hands (it’s a thing, look it up).

If you’re new to Chinese Five-Spice Powder, it’s typically some combination of these spices: star anise, cloves, Cinnamomum cassia (Chinese cinnamon), Szechuan peppercorns, ginger, and fennel seeds.

I love it so much, I wrote this feature for Bake From Scratch magazine about it (they link off to several of the recipes I created for this piece as well — go look!).

If you don’t have any Chinese five-spice powder available you can mix up your own.

DON’T MISS THESE CHINESE FIVE-SPICE RECIPES

Five-Spice Snickerdoodles, Five-Spice Fig Jam and this Five-Spice Cherry Pie!

TIP
Double the five-spice prune jam recipe and serve it on a cheese + charcuterie board…it’s exactly like fig jam but better (in my humble opinion)!

A jar of vanilla bean glaze

GETTING YOUR GLAZE RIGHT…
IT’S A THING

When I really want a glaze to be bright white and sit on top of a dessert, I like to mix it with cream which keeps it niceeee and thick. So thick you might think it needs more liquid. Add more liquid in very small increments, like 1 teaspoon at a time until you get a consistency that is thick, but pourable and not too thin and runny.

I added a bit of real vanilla bean into the glaze because I love the flavor and those vanilla flecks…they just get me every time.

However, vanilla beans are pricey. I give you the substitution of real vanilla extract if that’s easier.

TIP
If you don’t have any cream available for the glaze you can use milk. Add in half the quantity that the recipe lists for cream, as milk will yield a thinner glaze.

Prune bars with a bite out of them

Five-Spice Prune Bars

The most delicious streusel bar cookie with a layer of spiced prune jam sandwiched between a shortbread crust and streusel. YUM!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Bar Cookies
Keyword: Bar Cookies, Prunes, Dessert, Five-Spice, Streusel
Servings: 16 Bar Cookies

Ingredients

For the Cookie Crust

  • 1 cup (135 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons (36 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (17 g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter room temperature, cut into 10 pieces
  • ½ vanilla bean split and seeds scraped or 1/2 teapsoon real vanilla extract

For the Streusel

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (86 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (73 g) light brown sugar packed
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1 g) nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.5 g) sea salt
  • 5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter room temperature, cut into 5 pieces
  • ¼ cup (30 g) almond slices

For the Five-Spice Prune Jam

  • 1/2 pound (228 g) prunes coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup (115 g) water
  • 1.5 tablespoons (3 g) orange zest about 1 medium oranges
  • 1.5 tablespoons (21 g) fresh orange juice about 1 medium oranges
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) light brown sugar packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (3 g) five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) almond extract

For the Vanilla Bean Glaze

  • 1/2 cup (120 g) powdered sugar sifted
  • 3-4 tablespoon (45-60 g) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 vanilla bean split and seeds scraped (or 1/4 teaspoon real vanilla extract)

Instructions

For the Cookie Crust

  • To make the crust, preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease an 9 x 9–inch (23 x 23–cm) baking pan and line with parchment paper, letting the excess fall over the sides.
  • In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment (see note), add the flour, sugar, cornstarch and salt in the food processor and pulse several times to mix. Sprinkle the butter and vanilla over the flour mixture and run the processor for 1 minute or until a ball forms. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the baking pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the sides are lightly bronzed. Set aside to cool completely.

For the Streusel

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, work the butter into the mixture until it resembles wet sand and when pinched together it holds into clumps. Stir in the almonds. Place in the fridge to chill.

For the Five-Spice Prune Jam

  • To make the jam, add the fresh prunes, water, orange zest, orange juice brown sugar, five-spice powder and almond extract to a high-speed blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Set aside.

To Assemble

  • Spread the jam evenly over the cooled crust. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top and bake in center of the oven for 30 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool

For the Vanilla Bean Glaze

  • While the cookie bars cool, in a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, cream and vanilla. The drizzle will be thick, add only enough cream so that it drizzles, but not so much that it’s thin. Once the bars have cooled, drizzle over the tops and serve!

Notes

*The cookie crust can be mixed using a pastry blender or your fingers.
*If you don’t have cornstarch, replace with more all-purpose flour.
*The crust, streusel and jam can all be made 1-2 days ahead of assembling and baking. Store separately until ready to use.
Thanks for baking with me! Please tag me on social @displacedhousewife #displacedhousewife so I can see your beautiful treats! xo

This post + Five-Spice Prune Bar recipe was created in collaboration with California Prunes!! A big THANK YOU to them + you for supporting the brands I work with! When shopping, look for the California Grown license plate logo to know that you’re getting the goods from our awesome state!! 

4 Comments

  • Emily 2020/12/11 at 8:56 PM

    Hello, i see almonds mentioned in the instructions for the streusel, but I don’t see almonds in the ingredient list (I may have missed it). How many almonds should we add to the streusel? thank you.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2020/12/11 at 9:32 PM

      Hi Emily! That got cut off when I was copying the recipe for Word — thank you so much for the note. I just added the quantity into the recipe. Please reach out with any other questions!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Sally 2020/12/10 at 5:48 PM

    5 stars
    You make them sound delicious!

    Reply

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