Monday, September 22, 2008

The Best Raspberry Bars

I have this recipe for raspberry bars that a person just can not keep fingers out of. The toasty struesel filled with old fashioned oats, crushed pecans, and brown sugar, to name a few of the ingredients, closely hugs seedless raspberry preserves mixed with ruby red, fresh raspberries. Soooo good!
Easy and fast to bake is another great asset to this recipe.
Frozen raspberries can be substituted for fresh, but you are using fresh raspberry, check for tartness. If the fresh raspberries are too tart, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to the filling. These bars are fabulous eaten the first day but can be stored for up to 3 days in an airtight container or with Saran wrap over the dish. I am telling you from experience ~ the bars do "not" last that long. Comfort food at its best and pretty to boot =).
The Best Raspberry Struesel Bars
2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (I am totally hooked on unbleached flour now)
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 t. salt
16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened to a cool room temperature ~ you do not want overly mushy butter.
1/4 c. packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. pecans, chopped fine
3/4 c. raspberry preserves (I prefer seedless)
3/4 c. fresh raspberries (Frozen can be used; just make sure they are thawed all the way first)
1 Tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
Adjust the oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Cut an 18-inch length foil and and fit into length of 13 x 9-inch baking dish, pushing into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length of foil and fit into width of baking pan in same manner.
Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a mixer fitted with flat beater, mix flour, granulated sugar, and salt at low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With machine on low, add 16 tablespoons butter, 1 piece at a time; then continue mixing on low until mixture resembles damp sand, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer.
Measure 1 1/4 cups flour mixture into medium bowl and set aside; distribute remaining flour mixture evenly in bottom of prepared baking pan. Using hands or flat-bottomed measuring cup, press mixture into even layer to form bottom crust. Bake until edges begin to brown, 14 to 18 minutes.
While crust is baking, add brown sugar, oats and nuts to reserved flour mixture; toss to combine. Work in remaining 2 Tablespoons butter by rubbing mixture between fingers until butter is fully incorporated. Pinch mixture with fingers to create hazelnut-sized clumps; set streusel aside.
Combine preserves, raspberries, and lemon juice in small bowl; mash with fork until combined but some berry pieces remain.
Spread filling evenly over hot crust; sprinkle streusel topping evenly over filling. Return pan to oven and bake until topping is deep golden brown and fill in bubbling, 22 to 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature on wire rack, 1 to 2 hours; remove from baking pan by lifting foil extensions. Cut into squares and nibble away. . .so good!

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