These sweet and tangy plum shortbread crumble bars are layered with a shortbread crust and spiced plum jam. The shortbread crust is soft, chewy, deliciously buttery and baked to golden brown perfection. Filled with the plum jam in the center, it's made with freshly ripe and juicy black plums and spiced with a chai seasoning blend. These jammy shortbread bars are incredibly easy to make and even easier to eat! Make a batch of them for you next gathering with friends or family and hear them rave about the melt in your mouth shortbread and perfectly sweet jam flavor!
Making the Easy Homemade Plum Jam
It's a small batch!
This recipe uses a very small batch of plum jam that comes together in under 15 minutes and is used completely in the recipe so theres no extra. The plum jam is made without pectin and instead thickened with a bit of corn starch and the natural pectin that comes from the plum!
Step by Step Video
Best plums for jam making
Baking with fresh plums results in a more flavorful and delicious jam and the best part is you have complete control over the sugar content. You could make the jam sweeter or less sweet, depending on your preference.
Choosing the best type of plum for making the jam is a good thing to know, especially when there are 4-5 different plum varieties to choose from. There really is no wrong way to go for these jammy shortbread bars but this recipe uses black plums.
Need a substitute for black plums?
The most commonly seen plums in stores are black, red or yellow plums. If you aren't able to source black plums near you, they can easily be substituted for all red or all yellow plums or even a combination of them!
It's important to note that not all plums taste the same, and they usually have different levels of sweetness. Your jam will also vary in color depending on the type you choose to bake with. The black plums resulted in the dark red almost purple colored jam, and the yellow will produce more of a yellow/gold colored jam.
Plum jam variations
These easy plum bars are filled with a chai spiced plum jam. If you're not into chai or wanting to experiment with a different spice, here are some fun variations to try:
- Plum and cardamom jam- replace the chai spice with cardamom
- Plum and ginger jam- replace the chai spice with ginger
- Plum and cinnamon- replace the chai spice with cinnamon
- Plum and bourbon- omit the chai spice and add a splash of bourbon
How to Make the Shortbread Crust
These buttery shortbread bars are made with the best shortbread recipe ever. The shortbread actually melts in your mouth and is perfectly light and sweet. Even the dough is so delicious, I highly recommend stealing a little piece of it to try before baking 😉
Butter vs. shortening
When it comes to recipes like shortbread, you want to focus on quality ingredients as there are very few ingredients involved.
There are many many recipes out there that involve shortening in baked goods, like shortbread. In a very short explanation, shortening is far less superior than butter as it is made from only processed fats and oils. It can leave a very greasy mouth feel after consuming. Because shortbread is only comprised of 3-4 ingredients, the shortening flavor will be at the forefront of the final product!
Shortbread is as simple as it gets when it comes to cookie doughs. Because it's so simple, it puts all the focus on the rich, buttery flavor of the crust which is what it's known for!
So in short, always use butter for these fruit crumble bars, and even better use a good high quality butter for the absolute best taste possible!
The secret to the best shortbread
The secret to any and all baked goods is ALWAYS high quality ingredients. And that goes for this shortbread crust! Invest in high quality butter, sugar, and even flour will make the biggest difference in your final product.
Here are some really amazing high quality brands to look out for when you're shopping!
FAQ + Expert Tips
- Do you skin the plums before making jam?
- You do not need to peel the skin off the plums before using them in the jam but you totally can! Because the plums are super super ripe, you can sometimes just peel the skin away from the flesh really easily.
- How ripe do plums have to be to make jam?
- Your plums should be VERY very ripe. Like borderline about to turn to mush. The riper they are, the quicker the jam comes together, and the better flavor it has!
- How do you pit the plums for jam?
- With the plums being very ripe, you can easily cut the flesh around the pit to remove it.
- Let the plum jam cool completely before spreading it on the shortbread
- If you spread the jam while it's still warm, it will start to melt the butter prematurely.
- Don't over mix the shortbread dough
- Stop mixing as soon as it starts to look crumbly with small little pea sized balls of dough. The dough when squeezed together should clump together into one piece of dough when it's done.
- Freeze your bars before cutting them
- To get a clean cut bar, stick the pan in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to firm the bars up. Then remove them from the pan and cut with a sharp knife into clean bars!
More Cozy Fall Baked Goods
- Chai Spiced Apple Scones
- Savory Bread Pudding Stuffing
- Chocolate Chip Cardamom Muffins
- Cinnamon Roll Poptarts
Chai Plum Shortbread Crumble Bars
- 3 black plums, very ripe about ¾-1 cup diced plum
- 1 ½ tsp chai spice
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp corn starch
- ⅛ cup water
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ sticks butter, cold and cubed
- ¼ cups sugar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar, packed
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Chop the plums into chunks and remove the pits. Add them to a small pot along with the sugar and chai. Cook the plums over medium high heat for 10 minutes, then mash them with a wooden spoon.
- Whisk together the corn starch and water in a bowl and pour it into the pot. Let the jam cook and reduce down for 3 minutes, until the jam is no longer white or cloudy and is very thick.
- Remove the jam from the heat and add it to a bowl. Set aside and let cool completely before using. If the jam is too warm, it will melt the butter in the shortbread!
- Next, cut the cold butter into cubes. Add the flour, salt, sugars, butter cubes and vanilla to a mixing bowl.
- With the paddle attachment, begin mixing the shortbread on the stir speed. Mix for about 3 minutes until the dough is crumbly in small pea sized bits.
- Preaheat the oven to 350. Line a standard loaf pan 8x4 with parchment so that some of the parchment hangs over the long sides of the pan for easy removal.
- Press ¾ of the shortbread crumble (about 2 ½ cups) into the bottom of the loaf pan. Then smear the cooled jam on top. Finally, sprinkle the remaining crumbles of shortbread on top of the jam, leaving some of the jam visible.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the corners and sides of the shortbread start to get golden brown. Let cool completely before removing from the pan. Place the bars in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden before cutting for clean cuts.