I am happy to report that consuming an entire pound of frozen chicken has no noticeable ill effect on a sixty-five pound Weimaraner. Thanks for all the nice comments about her – she loves attention and is very flattered. Seriously, Eloise suffered no physical consequences from her mass ingestion, which is a good thing, because I don’t think she would have learned her lesson. In fact, Mr. Penpen just caught her licking a cutting board. And now for what I originally wanted to write about on Wednesday night: raspberry bars! Although I like to think people enjoy most of the treats I bake, these bars are the one dessert everyone always loves. (And World Peace Cookies, people can’t seem to get enough of those either.)
It’s not hard to understand why these raspberry bars are such a hit: they have a buttery shortbread crust as their base, a sweet, but not saccharine, filling made with jam and fresh raspberries, and a divine streusel topping. You really can’t ask for much more in a bar cookie.
I found this recipe in a back issue of Cook’s Illustrated a couple years ago. The magazine wasn’t mine (this was back when I had housemates other than my boyfriend and my dog), and the next time I went to make the recipe I couldn’t find it. Luckily, I managed to find it on the internet, and now subscribe to both Cook’s Illustrated magazine and their website, so I can get my hands on wonderful recipes such as this one. I know that ingredient lists for recipes can’t be copyrighted; however, I’ve read that Cook’s Illustrated is a little fussy about their content being reproduced, which makes me apprehensive about putting one of their recipes on my site. I also know that this recipe is too good not to share, and a quick Google search verified that I’m not the first person to think so.
The Best Raspberry Bars , adapted from Cook’s Illustrated September 2005 issue
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks, plus 2 tablespoons room temperature butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup pecans, finely chopped (I’ve also used almonds)
¾ cup raspberry preserves
¾ fresh raspberries (I usually up it to one cup)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut two pieces of foil to make a sling (in order to lift out the bars later) in a 9x13 inch baking pan. Spray lined pan with cooking spray.
Mix flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on low speed until combined. Keep machine running on low speed, and add the two sticks of butter, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture resembles damp sand (and it really will!).
Set aside 1 1/4 cups of the mixture in a medium bowl. Pour the remaining dough into the baking pan and press evenly to form a crust, using either your hands or a flat-bottomed measuring cup. Bake in preheated oven until the edges are brown. (The recipe says 14 to 18 minutes, but I err on the latter, possibly even 20 minutes.)
Meanwhile, prepare the filling and topping. Add the brown sugar, oats, and nuts to the flour mixture set aside in medium bowl and stir to combine. Add in the last 2 tablespoons of butter until fully incorporated into the mixture. Work with your hands to create clumps about the size of hazelnuts. (Mine are usually a little smaller.)
Place the preserves, raspberries and lemon juice in a small bowl. Mash together with a fork, making sure some berry pieces remain intact.
When the crust is done baking, spread the berry filling over it right away, and then sprinkle the streusel on top of that. Put pan back in the oven and bake for another 22 to 25 minutes, or until top is gold and bubbly. Cool in pan to room temperature, then lift bars out with the foil sling and cut in squares.
Yields 24 bars, which can be stored in an airtight container for several days – if they last that long!