Thursday, September 15, 2011

*#@!#*& Snack Week: Thursday


I have a friend who makes the most delicious raspberry bars known to mankind. Yesterday I begged her for the recipe, knowing that I was going to bake something for my daughter's class. But even knowing how very much in love with her raspberry bars I am, she would not fork over her recipe. Well. I. Never. Actually I completely understand, however I took this as a CHALLENGE. I would make my own raspberry bars, goddammit. And that is what I did.

I started with a shortbread crust. I can make shortbread. My grandmother was from Scotland, and just about the only thing she could make was shortbread, so that's a cinch. In my food processor, I dumped 2 1/2 cups of flour, 2/3 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp (sort of heaping, almost). I blitzed for a few seconds, then dropped in two sticks of unsalted butter cut into cubes. I pulsed this for about 40 pulses until it was grainy, and able to be pinched together. I scooped out 1 1/4 cups of this sugary grainy flour and put it in a separate bowl. Next, I lined a 13x9 inch baking pan with foil, greased it up, and pressed the shortbread into the pan, and let her cook at 375 for about 17 minutes until she was nice and golden brown on the edges. Shortbread, done.

Here you see the shortbread crust mid-way through being pressed into the pan.

Then I mixed 3/4 cup raspberry jam with a half pint of fresh raspberries, and sort of squashed the fresh berries into the jam because nobody wants great big globs of fruit in their delicate raspberry bars. To this berry mush I added some fresh lime juice, squeezed from half of an extremely juicy lime. If you are using a dryish lime, then go for the whole thing, or taste it to see how limey you like it.

 This picture is not a badly drawn parallelogram. You can't tell, but that is my stove on the right.

Now for the crumb topping. Normally I like almonds in a crumb topping. Or pistachios, if I'm feeling fancy. And if I am being totally over the top, 'who does she think she is?!' I mix marzipan in there. Oh, I know. It's totally crazy. But there's this nut issue. So I used pumpkin seeds. I blitzed half a cup in the processor, then added them to the flour with 1/2 cup of oats (the old fashioned kind) and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. My mother used to call brown sugar "Brown Hoo Ha," and one of my earliest memories is of her standing on the counter, gnawing on a hardened piece of said Hoo Ha that she kept in a high cupboard so that my brother and I couldn't reach it. Chic c'est la vie!

 Pumpkin seeds to save the day!!! Since I used pumpkin seeds a.k.a. pepitas, and lime, can these bars be heretofore known as Mexican Raspberry Bars? Maybe not.

I mixed this stuff up, and when the shortbread was ready, slathered on the raspberries, then topped with the crumb mix. Baked for about 24 minutes, then let it rest for an hour, or as long as it took me to pick the kids up from school and take them to their after school activities. I swear, if I added up all the time I have spent waiting outside various ballet classes, swimming lessons, gymnastics and Kumon, it would total about four years. Anyhow, when I got home, I cut them into squares, and as I made two batches, we got to eat some!

The verdict? These bars are delicious. Do they match up to my friend's raspberry bars? It doesn't really matter, does it? The important thing is that I am no longer dependent on someone else to provide me with raspberry bars, cause I can make them my own self. Not that I wouldn't be really really really thrilled if my friend would make me some of hers soon. Real soon.

Will the kids like them tomorrow? My daughter assured me that they would - if I also sent in some whipped cream.

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