Raspberry-Cherry Crumble Bars

raspberrybar2I was chatting with my mom this morning on the phone (as she was walking through her tropical paradise in Florida to the local French bakery), and we were discussing food.  Shocking, I know.  Specifically, we were comparing notes on bar cookies.  She was planning to take an Manion family classic affectionately known as “fat bombs”  to a party later this week.  Fat bombs (gosh, do they have a real name?) are layers of shortbread, mixed nuts, and an insane amount of caramel.  I am perhaps the only person on the planet who does not love them –  they are just too heavy for me.

The raspberry-cherry crumble bar is the bar for me.  If I am craving chocolate, I have a few other faves, but as there is a brief hint of spring in the air, I’m craving fruity things. I love these bars… and I have to say, the gals that were here yesterday helping me with staging and photography fell in love too.  I believe they were described as “addictive as crack.”  Not that I’ve ever been addicted to crack, but I suspect this is true.  I had to give every last one of them away so I wouldn’t eat them all.

One of the many fabulous qualities of this particular bar is that they are a snap to make.  The bottom crust and the top layer are the same (although you add almonds to the topping…).  After I described the buttery oatmeal crust, the perfect sweet and tart mix of raspberries and dried cherries in the filling, and the easy crumble topping to my mother, I just may have convinced her to give them a try. raspberry bars1 Though I suspect the “Fat Bomb” recipe will live on…

Today’s shout-out in the “it takes a village to create a blog” goes to Paula Bee, who helped me figure out the code to make this nifty recipe card function possible. Thanks Paula!

And on my quest to explore other cool bloggers, I thought I’d join the “Sunday Best” link party hosted by Ink & Sky, A Pretty Life, Satori Design for Living and Twigg Studios.  Sounds like fun…

Raspberry Cherry Crumble Bars

Adapted (just barely) from Cindy Mushet and Sur La Table, The Art & Soul of Baking (Andrews McMeel)

Ingredients:

  • 1¾ cups (8¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1¾ cups (6 ounces) old-fashioned or quick oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) cold butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 16 ounce jar good quality seedless raspberry jam (I like Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 cup (5½ ounces) dried sour cherries
  • 1 cup sliced dry-roasted almonds

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Line a 13-inch baking pan with foil across the bottom and up the two long sides, then lightly coat with melted butter, oil, or high-heat canola-oil spray.

Mix the crumble dough: Place the flour, oats, brown sugar, and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on low speed until evenly mixed (or place in the food processor and process for 5 seconds). Add the cold butter and mix on low speed until the mixture looks like wet sand and starts to form clumps, 5 to 6 minutes (or process for 45 to 60 seconds, pausing to scrape down once with the spatula).

Bake the bottom crust: Divide the dough in half. Pat one half into an even layer in the prepared pan. Set the other half aside. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and crisp. Transfer to a rack and cool for 20 minutes. Leave the oven on.

Make the filling: Empty the jar of jam into a medium bowl and stir well to break up any lumps. Add the cherries and stir until well mixed and all the cherries are coated with jam. Spread evenly over the cooled crust, all the way to the edges.

Add the almonds to the remaining dough and sprinkle evenly over the filling. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Transfer to a rack and cool completely, 1½ to 2 hours.

Un-mold the cookies: To serve, run a thin knife or spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen any dough or filling. Lift the cookies out using the foil as handles and place on a cutting surface. Cut into 3 by 1-inch bars.

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