Dating someone who doesn’t love sweets and baked goods is a real downer for me; I love them so much that I always need to have something in the house. Sometimes my something sweet is a cake, sometimes cookies, sometimes there are desperate times and it’s semisweet chocolate chips.
Since I always want to eat baked goods, I make them pretty often. Unfortunately (but also fortunately), I frequently am the sole person who eats the batch of whatever has been prepared. Every now and then, though, I’ll make something that tempts Ben, and the next thing I know, it’s gone the next day. These raspberry crumble bars are one of those few and far between baked goods.
If you haven’t caught on by now, I have a small obsession with America’s Test Kitchen. When I worked at the gourmet deli in high school and on breaks during college, I could get expired (ie the season or month on their cover had passed) issues of Cook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Country and any special editions that the store hadn’t sold. I took advantage of this perk, deftly sweeping up any and all of the magazines I could. I actually ended up only getting one every other month or so, but my collection is now quite large, and I even love them so much that I’ve added some purchased magazines to my collection of freebies. One of the special edition magazines in my collection is an assortment of perfect holiday baking recipes.
This raspberry streusel bar recipe comes from that holiday magazine. I’m certain that all of the recipes in the edition are superb, but I keep coming back to this one, mainly because I know that Ben likes it so much. Once I find a sweet that someone missing a sweet tooth loves, I keep making it, although that may be counter-intuitive because sometimes I just don’t want to share.
These don’t particularly scream Christmas or the holidays to me, but since they’re in a holiday baking magazines and since they’re absolutely delicious, I think they’re a worthy share to close our Christmas cookie week. They’re relatively simple and have a short shelf-life, so it’s great to make them you’re planning on entertaining a group. Plus, if they have such an appeal to Ben’s not sweet-sweet tooth, they’ll definitely be a crowd-pleaser.
Notes: I use less butter than called for as published. As published, it uses 18 tablespoons of butter. I really can’t fathom using more than 2 sticks of butter for something (this is probably one of my faults….the problems striving to be healthy), and it turns out fine using two tablespoons less butter. However, it is only two tablespoons less, so you can go along with my odd mentality or not.
These are really best the day they are made and one day after.
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to a cool room temperature (takes about 10 minutes out of the fridge)
¾ cup raspberry preserves
1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
1 teaspoon lemon juice or the juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
½ cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped (I prefer walnuts)
½ cup old fashioned oats
1. In a 9 inch by 13 inch rectangular baking dish, make a foil sling–I use only one piece of foil. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. In a medium sized bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together flour, sugar and salt until combined. Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, a hand mixer, or a pastry cutter (if using mixers, use the low setting), mix in 14 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the texture of wet sand. Measure 1 ¼ cups of the mixture into a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Dump the remaining flour mixture into the baking dish; using your hands or the bottom of a measuring cup, press the crust firmly and evenly into the pan to form the bottom crust. Bake until the edges begin to brown, about 14-18 minutes.
4. While the crust is baking, combine raspberry preserves, thawed raspberries and lemon juice in a small bowl. Mash some of the raspberries so they combine with the jam, but leave a few berries less mashed.
5. With a spatula, spread the raspberry mixture over the baked crust.
6. Add brown sugar, nuts and oats to the bowl with the remaining flour mixture; toss to combine. Using your fingers, rub the remaining 2 tablespoons butter into to topping. Once the butter is fully rubbed in, use your fingers to pinch hazelnut-sized pieces of streusel over the raspberry layer, sprinkling streusel pieces as you go along.
7. Return the pan to the 375 F oven, and bake until the streusel is golden and the raspberry preserves are bubbling, about 22 to 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature; remove from the pan by pulling up on the foil sling. Cut into squares and serve.