Raspberry Crumble Bars

raspberry crumble bars4

Happy Friday!

Well, it’s not entirely happy for me. In some crazy sleep deprived fog I foolishly decided to give up sweets for lent. I don’t know what I was thinking. It’s been two days and already the gummy sour bunnies that live in the center console of my car are screaming my name. I’m already planning my easter basket. It’s going to be epic.

But just because I’m unhappy, doesn’t mean you have to be. You can make these Raspberry Crumb Bars. Please make them, for those of us who cannot.

raspberry crumble bars3

 

This recipe is really simple and can be easily tweaked. If you’d prefer blueberry or strawberry jam you can easily substitute. I also use this amazing granola in the topping, but if you don’t have some readily made (or you ate it all last night) you can use a good store bought brand.

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The shortbread crust is buttery, yet somehow light, and the fruity jam and nutty granola combine for the perfect bite.

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I made these for the first time for a meeting of my moms group. There are about nine of us moms who have babies around the same age and we try to get together once a week for play dates. It’s so much fun to get the babies together and watch them interact. But the best part is, we always have dessert.

raspberry crumble bars

It’s awesome. Once a week you can look forward to dessert (and a glass of wine!) in the middle of the day. It’s pretty great. In fact, I’ve thought seriously about being one of the people who nurses their kid until they are like, a tween, just so I can continue to use the excuse, “I’m breastfeeding” when eating my second bar. And also use it an excuse when I take tiny slivers out of a third slice until I’ve basically eaten the whole thing. Don’t worry, if you’re not nursing there are plenty of other reasons to eat these delicious, crumbly bars….”Having friends over for dinner!” “Just finished the laundry!”  ”It’s Tuesday!” …you get the idea.

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I’ll be thinking of those tiny slivers for the next 38 days…but who’s counting?

Enjoy!

Recipe: Raspberry Crumb Bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 -1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 ounces raspberry jam (I like the kind with seeds) OR USE THIS
  • 1 cup  Coconut Maple Granola (or store bought granola without dried fruit)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 1/4-inch up the sides. Spread with the jam, leaving a 1/4-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. Bake the bars for 45 minutes, until lightly browned.
  4. Cool completely and cut into 9 or 12 bars.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten

 

Plum Butter

Happy Friday!

I am so excited. Why? #1 It’s the weekend! #2 I’ve been itching to share this amazing plum butter with you guys!

I have this thing about wasting food. I absolutely hate doing it. So, when I came home from vacation and found these very over ripe plums in the fridge I set out finding something to do with them.

They were too soft to bake with. I thought about doing something savory, but decided against it. Then I found a recipe by Martha Stewart for Plum Butter which I altered a bit to get this creamy, fruity, perfection.

I’m sure you’ve seen them in the grocery store…all kinds of fruit butters. I love them. I use them a lot in granola. I’ve seen all kinds of flavors, apple, mango, fig…but never plum!

I also never really knew exactly what these fruit butters were. I mean, I knew they weren’t actually “butter,” but beyond that, I wasn’t sure. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out how simple this is to make!

Put simply, fruit butters are just fruit and sugar reduced down, cooked long and slow until the natural pectin in the fruit tightens it up. Slice up the plums, skin and all, and let them cook with the sugar until they start to fall apart. Then dump it all in the blender and smooth it out. Then put it back in the same pot and let to cook until it thickens.

After a few hours of cooking (yes hours! it’s worth it though!) you are left with a thick, smooth, sweet, slightly tart, delicious spread. Top off some toast, slather it on pancakes, make some granola, or eat it straight out of the jar!

This recipe is going in my “definitely-going-to-make-again” file. Hope you love it as much as I do!

Plum Butter
Author: 
 
adapted from Martha Stewart
Ingredients
  • 3½ pounds plums
  • 1¼ cups sugar
Instructions
  1. Split plums in half, remove pits, and cut into chunks. Do not peel. Place in a 6-quart nonreactive saucepan, and add 1 cup water and the sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook until fruit is very soft, about 20 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat; puree fruit and liquid in a blender or food processor.
  3. Rinse saucepan and return puree to pan. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until thick enough to spread, 2½ to 3 hours. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in an airtight container.

 

 

Homemade Strawberry Freezer Jam

Happy Monday Friends!

Hope you all had a great weekend! It was H. O. T. here in Northern California and I took full advantage! After sitting outside with my sister drinking  few of these, we decided to mosey on down to get some frozen yogurt. To our surprise there was a super cool art and food festival going on on the same street as my favorite fro yo place! So, we picked up our frozen yogurt and wandered through the booths. We got some delicious artisan olives (habanero stuffed for Michael, blue cheese stuffed for me), and some Dave’s Killer bread (have you guys tried this?! It is amazing! I couldn’t get enough!). But I stopped in my tracks when I found this incredible organic strawberry stand and couldn’t resist! Bright red, plump, juicy, and ridiculously sweet, perfect for eating my the handful, and…for jam!

Strawberry jam is one of my all time favorites.  I think from the ages of 4-6 I pretty much lived on a diet of french bread, strawberry jam, and watermelon – or so pictures would lead me to believe. Now I am not talking about store bought jam here, in fact, I don’t think I had store bough jam until college! My mom and Ginny always had homemade jam on hand, the good stuff. I used to pack my suitcase full of jam every time I made a trip home (and actually I rarely make a trip home without smuggling at least a jar or two back :) ) because it is about 1,000% better than anything you can buy in the store, but then I realized how easy it is to make  and my suitcases started getting considerably lighter! :)

The key to good strawberry jam? Good strawberries, duh! You want ripe, bright red, juicy strawberries. If you use under ripe strawberries you’ll get underripe jam…or something like that. Mash up your strawberries with a potato masher, don’t pulverize them though! One of the best parts of homemade jam is getting the big hunks of strawberries in your spoonful! Also, the bigger the chunks, the easier they are to dig out and keep for yourself before anyone else can get to them (not that I would know from personal experience or anything). ;)

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