Yesterday I made the most incredible raspberry crumb bars for Valentine’s Day. I promise you I am normally all humble and bashful about my baking, but these bars were majorly delicious, and I knew I had to scream it from the rooftops (or at the very least, my blog!) Although I’m usually a huge proponent of making batches and batches of chocolatey valentine’s goodness, I knew my office and home would be full of chocolate, so I wanted something a little different. These bars could easily work either as a breakfast bar or any fitting dessert bar really.
Although the oatmeal topping is somewhat crumbly, the bars are a bit dense and so moist, like a buttery sweet raspberry (with a hint of citrus) sandwich cookie, but pack so much delicate flavor, you’ll be craving bar after bar (which may or may not be a good thing.)
I actually doubled the recipe to make enough for both my husband’s work meeting and my office (though the recipe below is for a regular serving in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish). Doubling the recipe was a bit tricky, since mixing the butter into the dry mix is an important part of the process. This lead me to make sad face at my husband and hint (not-so-subtly) that a 6-Quart KitchenAid Mixer would make all of my dreams come true.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
For the crust (bottom and top layers):
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats (toast the oats for a few minutes in the oven for extra richness and color – thanks, mom!)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
For the raspberry filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
To make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This makes it so much easier to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked and cooled.) Butter or spray the parchment.
Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor or mixer and pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the (softened) butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.
Reserve about half of the mixture and set aside. (You want to make sure that you have enough for the top layer so that the middle layer of raspberries are mostly covered.) Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands or the back of a large spoon to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.
To make the raspberry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and melted butter and use your hands to toss gently until the raspberries are evenly coated.
Assemble and bake the bars: Spread the raspberry filling evenly on top of the cooled bottom layer of crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days, and surprisingly, these bars taste extra-amazing cold (the raspberry filling really comes together when cold).