Happy Birthday Little Man!

Our little nephew, Flynn, is turning 7 in a few days and today is the big celebration ~ Outside. On the huge lawn at the Mission Rose Garden. With rain clouds looming.  We’ll see what happens.

Never the less Noreen, my sister-in-law, asked if I could help bake something for dessert as today’s bake day experiment. I was both honored and excited, a birthday party is kinda a big deal.  So I started brainstorming, but not for long.

When I lived in Seattle I used to work at Macrina’s Bakery as many of you know.  Now, there is NO WAY I could ever bake there.  Those people are geniuses!  But I was an outstanding test taster and could serve up a mean scone or bowl of oatmeal.

Side note ~ I was simply and without exaggeration, the worst barista ever.  In Seattle, where people take their Americanos and Cappuccinos seriously, that’s not a good thing.  I think the lovely people of Seattle would’ve stoned me if it hadn’t been early and sleep wasn’t still hanging over their heads.

Anyway, I digress.  One of my very favorite desserts were Macrina’s fruit and oat bars.  Now, many of you might need to pick your jaws up off of the floor because not an ounce of chocolate exists in what is this scrumptiousness.  I have a slight obsession with chocolate.  However, this is an amazing dessert that anyone would fall in love with.  Oh, and don’t let the name fool you.  This is not a slimming snack… many, many tablespoons of butter and cups of sugar.  Man, I love desserts!

These bars are time consuming but super simple.  I decided to double the crust recipe because I wanted to be sure to have a think base layer.  But even so, the bars turned out really messy (I may have cut into them too early and may have cut them too large).  See what you think.  Enjoy!

Macrina’s Raspberry Oat Bars (care of tastytype.blogspot.com)

DSC01192.jpg

Sweet Almond Dough:

INGREDIENTS:  1/4 cup whole almonds, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)

DIRECTIONS:  Toast the almonds on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until they start to turn golden. Let them cool completely.Grind the almonds in a food processor (mini-processor works great here) until finely ground. I did this in pulses. Measure out 2 tablespoons of the ground almonds and place in a mixing bowl. If you have any left over, save it to sprinkle over your oatmeal. To the almonds, add sugar and flour and stir together. In another small bowl, stir melted butter and vanilla and almond extracts. Pour this into the bowl with the almond mixture and stir together until a crumbly dough is formed. You want the dough to stick together when you press it between your fingers. If you want to do this step ahead, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it. If you’re ready to go now, get out your tart pan. The recipes calls for a 13x9x2 inch pan. I used two smaller tart pans because I wanted the fluted edge they provided. This made for a little thicker crust on the bottom, which I liked. It made the bars easier to handle when cut. Use what you have. To do it all in one pan, I will probably use my 9 1/2 inch square brownie pan next time. Press the dough into the pan using your fingertips. At room temperature, it will spread out easily. Just be sure to press it firmly into the corners and about 3/4 inch up the sides. When the dough is evenly pressed into the pan, cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Remove the chilled crust from the fridge and line it with parchment paper. Fill the bottom with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for about 25 minutes until the edges start to turn golden brown. Remove the parchment and weights and put it back in the oven to bake for 3-5 more minutes until the bottom is no longer moist. Let cool.

Crumble Topping:

INGREDIENTS:  12 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), 1 to 1 1/4 cups brown sugar (depending on how sweet you’d like it), 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, 2 1/2 cups raspberry preserves

DIRECTIONS:  Cut the butter into 1/4-inch pieces. Place them in a food processor with the sugar, flour and oats. Pulse the processor for 2-3 seconds at a time until the mixture turns into a clumpy and crumbly dough. Set aside for a moment. Spread the preserves evenly over the cooled almond dough. Sprinkle the oat crumble over the top of the preserve layer. Bake for about 30 minutes. To get a nice golden brown on top, I turned the broiler on for just a moment before removing these from the oven. Be sure to stay with them if you want to do this so you can pull them out at the right moment. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into bars. You can cut these into squares or rectangles depending on your preference. I liked the way they looked in long strips. How many bars you get depends on how you cut them. But these are big on flavor, so small servings are fine.

Happy Birthday Little Man!

Flynn

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