Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rasberry "Breakfast" Bars

Santa was very good to me this year, leaving numerous cookbooks under the tree.  I'm so excited to try them all out, but it's a bit overwhelming.

There's the massive (it's in a binder! with tabs! I love it!) America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook: Heavy Duty Edition.  This bad boy has more than 1,200 recipes.  And photos and tips and tricks and it's just like watching the show ... except reading.  So I guess it's a little different than TV.  There's a subscription to Cook's Illustrated, which is mind-bogglingly smart.  There's a cupcakes/cakes/cookies/standard-issue-baking-porn book.  Including KFTF's haul, we now own copies of everything the fantastico Jose Andres has ever written, it seems.  And I'd be remiss not to mention volumes written by KFTF's original hero (the AB cookbook) and his latest hero (David Chang's Momofuku).  We are STACKED with cookbooks. 

And then.  There is a glorious new baking book from KFTF's sister - hey girl! - called Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.  Written by the duo behind their eponymous bakery in Brooklyn, this book is chock full of unusual recipes (a root beer float cake? with root beer chocolate ganache? yes please!) as well as riffs on the classics (Hostess Snoball cupcakes, without all the chemicals that make them, well, Hostess).  The guys even include some great drink recipes I'm looking forward to making.  Don't count on me to blog any of the drinks, though.  You read what happened with the salt-crusted-beef-tenderloin-and-one-too-many.  We will not be attempting that again.

While thumbing through all these glorious books, I had to decide which recipe would win the "first of the year" prize.  These rasberry bars were the surefire winner: quick to assemble, your house smells amazing when they're in the oven, and you can take all of them to the office to share (unlike cakes, pies, and crumbles, which disappear sliver by sliver in the fridge).  And ahem if you're reading this at work, HEY PUT THE BLOG DOWN.  GET BACK TO BUSINESS PEOPLE.  And YES I am OUT of the bars, you scavengers ate them all yesterday.

I should note that I was out of dark brown sugar.  Blasphemy, I know - what kind of a food blogger do I think I am?  HOWEVER!  Having recently picked up some honey powder during a trip to a Korean grocery store out in the suburbs, I decided to "pull an Elaine" (sorry Mama Fierce) and substitute the honey powder for the brown sugar.  It worked like a charm, and gave the bars a deeper, more mellow sweetness, than the superdupersweet brown sugar would have done.  It should be noted that the honey powder doesn't caramelize like a normal sugar.  If you don't have honey powder, you can buy it online at many "natural food" shops.  It's lumped in with the agave nectar/powder crowd as a sugar substitute.  If you are interested, TheKitchn has an interesting conversation about honey powder here.
Using a pizza cutter is my favorite way to slice brownies, bars, even pizza, oddly enough.  I line up my bench scraper which has a nifty ruler on the side, mark out my slices (this recipe yields 18 2x2 1/2" bars) and presto! Perfect!

Enough talk.  Get in your kitchen, please, and make these.  Enjoy your cookbooks and magazines and recipes and the New Year. 

C Fierce

Raspberry Crumb Breakfast Bars
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

For the crust and crumb:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (or honey powder, if you are me)
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
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

Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.

Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.

Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands or the back of a large wooden 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 (it took almost 20 minutes for me - I think it had to do with using the honey powder as it didn't brown as quickly as normal brown sugar would). Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.

Make the raspberry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and 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 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.

Transfer to a wire rack 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 (if you can make them last that long, that is).

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