|Copyright, Doug Kapustin Photography, 2013|
Very often, I love stopping by a good bakery on Friday afternoons to fetch a fresh loaf of bread or to buy homemade croissants for the weekend. Although croissants are probably not that difficult to make, I’ve never tried to make them because they are almost always available at a local pastry shop. And, honestly speaking, those from local shops are probably going to be much tastier than anything I could make. There are just some things that I’d buy rather than take the time to make, if truth be told. I do try my hand at homemade rustic breads occasionally, but I’d prefer making spreads or jams for fresh patisserie bread.
At any rate, my weekly purchases really do complete a relaxing Saturday or Sunday morning. I absolutely love morning coffees— my favorites being the raspberry, blueberry, and orange infused varieties. Waking early to have some quiet time before the hustle and bustle of the day, I covet my time spent reading and cuddling for a few moments with my Basset Hound, Emmy. With a hot cup of coffee and cream, I also appreciate some of that warm, fresh bread from the bakery, slathered with butter and raspberry jam.
I recently tried a recipe that combined the best of both worlds—buttery bread and raspberry jam. It was a dessert that Ina Garten showcased on her Barefoot Contessa show called Raspberry Crumble Bars. If you love shortbread as much as I do, dream with me for a moment. Let’s conjure a deliciously buttery and crisp shortbread topped with raspberry jam, then finished with a granola- oatmeal- shortbread crumb topping. Sounds decadent and mouth-watering, doesn’t it? Well, let me assure you that Ina Garten’s raspberry bars definitely deliver flavor, great texture, and they are so versatile. At home, we enjoy them with coffee for breakfast or as an evening dessert; they truly suit either occasion and they are packed with all of the elements that make jam and shortbread so pleasing together.
When I made the batch pictured here, I was out of slivered almonds, so I substituted them with the same amount of dry oatmeal. It worked, and the result was a bar that was even better suited as an accompaniment to morning coffee. You absolutely have to try these Barefoot Contessa treats; you’ll be so glad you did!
If you don’t like raspberry jam, you could easily substitute with your favorite. I enjoy raspberry jam with seeds, especially the Favorit or Bonne Maman brands, but that could also be replaced by a seedless variety of any brand you trust and enjoy. The key is, of course, to cater to your personal preferences.
Raspberry Crumble Bars
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
10 to 12 ounces good raspberry jam
2/3 cup good granola without dried fruit
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Confectioners' sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed just until combined. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla.
Sift the flour and salt together and, with the mixer on low, slowly add to the butter mixture, mixing until it almost comes together in a ball. Turn the dough out on a board. Lightly pat two-thirds of the dough evenly on the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan and about ¼ inch up the sides.
Spread with the jam, leaving a ¼-inch border. Mix the granola into the remaining dough with your hands. Break the dough into small bits, and distribute it on top of the jam, covering most of the surface. Sprinkle the almonds on top.
Bake the bars for 45 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely and cut into 9 or 12 bars. Sprinkle lightly with confectioners’ sugar.
(Recipe taken from http://barefootcontessa.com/recipes.aspx?RecipeID=877&S=0, property of Ina Garten)