Monday, March 19, 2012

Raspberry Bars, Deliciously Simple

These bars are life changing.  Utterly delicious, supremely versatile, visually appealing, and they contain--wait for it Phoodie Phriends--4 ingredients!  Here's how to make them:

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
10 oz jar raspberry jam (see note below for variations)

Heat oven to 350.  Grease 8x8 inch square pan.  In large bowl, mix butter, sugar and flour until they resemble crumbly bits about the size of a lentil.  Press 2/3 of this dough firmly into the bottom of the greased pan.  Spread the jam over the dough taking care not to hit the edges (jam will burn if it makes contact w/ pan).  Crumble remaining dough over top, scrunching it into clumps of dough and sprinkling it over the top of the jam.  Press GENTLY on the topping to settle it, and bake for 40 minutes until just turning a golden brown.  Cool completely, cut and serve, or store in airtight container for up to 3 days.

The beautiful thing about this recipe is that you can use absolutely anything to fill it.  (well, anything sweet--I'd avoid things like pickle relish, tuna carpaccio and chicken salad).  Any ONE* of the following options is quite delectable:  lemon curd (personal fave); nutella; 1 cup chocolate chips (or a blend of choc and white chips); apple butter; pumpkin butter; blueberry jam.

The other beautiful thing about this recipe is that if you are in need of a more formal presentation you can use a round cake pan or fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.  Same technique, but you'll slice it like you would a pie and add a dollop of cream for a more elegant dessert.

*I have an amusing story to tell about a friend who asked for this recipe around Thanksgiving.  I had recently given her a batch of these lovelies filled with pumpkin butter, in honor of the season.  Per her request, I shared the recipe, and included the filling options in case she sought variety.  She misunderstood the directions and included ALL OF THEM.   Needless to say, the result was a gooey, inedible mess.  Since then, I have always made sure, when sharing this recipe, to advise choosing ONE filling.

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