Raspberry Squares

I am going to share this recipe with you that I originally posted about 5 years ago. Yeah I know I can’t believe I have been writing a weekly blog for about 6 years now. I honestly didn’t know how long I would stick with it. I didn’t know what my objective for a blog would be. I see bloggers come and go, I see them change format, and timing some slow down with how often they write. I am still writing and sharing because I enjoy it, I enjoy hearing that people look forward to reading my post, I enjoy sharing recipes that I would make again. I love it when someone makes one of my recipes and gives me a shout out.

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Sometimes you want something sweet but you don’t have the time or patience to make individual cookies.  I will admit I do make more cookies than bars and I am not a fan of jelly filled anything but I found this raspberry bar recipe and fell in love.  I have made these many many times now, when I offer to bring them places I always double the batch just so I can leave some at home.  They are really easy to make, generally can be thrown together in about 15 minutes, not including baking I hope you try making them.  You can substitute the filling for whatever your preference is.

Raspberry Bars

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ cups quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup finely chopped pecans or almonds, or a combination of both
12 tablespoons unsalted butter softened but still cool.  Cut into pieces
1 10 oz jar of raspberry preserve

Easily doubled – which is how I generally make them
Preheat oven to 350’F

Spray 9×9 pan fold two 16-inch pieces of parchment or aluminum foil. Fold and press the first sheet into the pan pressing the corners, with the second sheet crisscross over the other.  You will want to make sure the end over hang; this is to take the bars out of the pan a lot easier.  Spray with the sheets with cooking spray.

Mix the flour, oats, sugars, baking soda, salt, and nuts in a bowl of an electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  With the mixer on low, add the butter pieces; continue until the mixer is well blended and resembles wet sand; about 2 minutes.

Transfer two thirds of the oat mixer to the prepared pan; use your hands to press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake until the crust starts to brown, about 20 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula spread the preserves evenly over the baked oats; sprinkle the remaining oat mixture evenly over the preserves. Bake until the preserves bubble around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1 ½ hours. Remove the squares using the foil or parchment paper handles. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1 ½ inch squares.

Russian tea cakes or Mexican wedding cookies?

I really love these cookies, I mean what’s not to love, butter, sugar and nuts. They are super easy to put together and rather quickly too. I don’t know why but they are generally only made around this time a year. Maybe because they look like a snowball?

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How cute are my fish teaspoons?

I have heard them called many things; Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cakes, Italian wedding cakes, snowballs, snowball cookies, and butterballs to name a few. Why so many names? Why called a cake when they clearly the size of a cookie?
IMG_3719.JPGIn doing a little research the names Russian versus Mexican seem to come from what nut you choose to use. Russian tea cakes use Hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts. And Mexican wedding cakes use pecans. The names snowballs and butterballs seem to be more of whatever your family has grown up using maybe? The cake versus cookie has a long explanation but I will try to condense it A LOT. Mexican weddings used to not have the typical tiered creations that we have here in the US instead they had tables with all kinds of confections for their guests and these were popular. The Mexican wedding cake cookies are known as polvorones. The Russian name is said that they were a popular treat at tea time for Europeans. 
IMG_3718.JPGPreheat oven to 325 – prepare 2 cookie sheets either with parchment, spray or silpat mat

2 cups whole pecans or walnuts, chopped fine
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but cool
⅓ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups confectioners sugar for rolling cooled cookies

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Mix 1 cup chopped nuts, flour, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside
Place the remaining nuts in a food processor and process until they are the consistency of corneal, careful not to over process and make butter. Stir into the flour mixture and set aside.
IMG_3713.JPGCream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about a minute or two. Beat in the vanilla; scrape as needed. Add the flour mixture and beat on low until the dough just comes together; about 15-20 seconds. Scrape again as needed and process till dough has all come together a few more seconds.
IMG_3714.JPGWorking with 1 tablespoon at a time, use a cookie scoop if you have one to make them all the same size. Roll into a ball and place on a prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes; just until the tops are barely brown. Rotate halfway through cooking.
IMG_3716.JPGCool on the cookie sheet for about 2 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes or so. Roll cookies into confectioners sugar, gently shake off the excess. They can be stored in an airtight container up to 5 days, or frozen for a couple of months. Just before serving roll them again in confectioners sugar to coat again; tap off the excess.
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Recipe: Cook’s Illustrated

Square the other cookie (Raspberry Squares)

There are a couple of types of bar cookies the typical chewy type like brownies and blondies.  Then there is a very nice alternative that is more like a pastry shortbread type that is tender, buttery and crumbly.

beef and broccoli 008 beef and broccoli 010 beef and broccoli 026 beef and broccoli 028 beef and broccoli 030 beef and broccoli 033 beef and broccoli 035 beef and broccoli 039 beef and broccoli 041

Sometimes you want something sweet but you don’t have the time or patience to make individual cookies.  I will admit I do make more cookies than bars and I am not a fan of jelly filled anything but I found this raspberry bar recipe and fell in love.  I have made these many many times now, when I offer to bring them places I always double the batch just so I can leave some at home.  They are really easy to make, generally can be thrown together in about 15 minutes, not including baking I hope you try making them.  You can substitute the filling for whatever your preference is.

Raspberry Bars

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1¼ cups quick-cooking oats

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

½ cup finely chopped pecans or almonds, or a combination of both

12 tablespoons unsalted butter softened but still cool.  Cut into pieces

1 10oz jar of raspberry preserve

 

Easily doubled – which is how I generally make them

Preheat oven to 350’

Spray 9×9 pan fold two 16-inch pieces of parchment or aluminum foil. Fold and press the first sheet into the pan pressing the corners, with the second sheet crisscross over the other.  You will want to make sure the end over hang; this is to take the bars out of the pan a lot easier.  Spray with the sheets with cooking spray.

Mix the flour, oats, sugars, baking soda, salt, and nuts in a bowl of an electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  With the mixer on low, add the butter pieces; continue until the mixer is well blended and resembles wet sand; about 2 minutes.

Transfer two thirds of the oat mixer to the prepared pan; use your hands to press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake until the crust starts to brown, about 20 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula spread the preserves evenly over the baked oats; sprinkle the remaining oat mixture evenly over the preserves. Bake until the preserves bubble around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1 ½ hours. Remove the squares using the foil or parchment paper handles. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1 ½ inch squares.

Happy Easter – Carrot Cake – Cream Cheese Frosting

Sorry this is a day late, we have been without internet for 4 days UGH!

 

Today like the last 30 years has started off with a pancake & sausage breakfast to support our local Rotary Club.  Let’s just say I would rather just donate money than actually attend and that is all I will say about it. My in-laws have been going to this event since they moved here in the late 70’s and we, I mean they just cannot break from tradition. I do say this lovingly.

Carrot Cake w/cream cheese frosting

Carrot Cake w/cream cheese frosting

I only added a few nuts and I was too distracted and ended up cooking it a little longer than I should have.  It was still very moist and yummy!

Later today I will be having family over for Linner, late lunch early dinner as I have called it for many years.  It is I think the first year that I didn’t hide eggs for the kids.  Which is kind of funny since they really are not “kids” anymore 21 & 23; but they always insisted that eggs be hidden.  When they were little I used to do a treasure hunt all over the house and yard for them depending on the weather.  I have a feeling if my daughter was home; she would insist on me hiding some for her and her brother to find.

Another tradition we started many years ago was we played four square in the driveway on a huge course with one of those huge plastic balls you see in those bins at the grocery stores.  We have had some crazy games over the years, not only on Easter, but I think that is when it started. We have had marathon games lasting 6-8 hours with everyone playing at some point from as young as 4-5 to as old as 70-80.  It would get pretty crazy at times but always full of laughter.  I do definitely miss playing with my brother, may he rest in peace.  Our main goal was to get him out of the servers’ box not sure how but he had a knack of always being in it.

Yesterday while out getting stuff for dinner I picked up a bag of used golf balls so that we could smackem’ down the driveway; the 3 of us sent all 48 through the woods and down the 1000’ driveway.  We do this periodically, afterwards we walk the driveway hunting for the.  Alex mentioned that we should have done this for a hunt when they were little.  Dad and I could send the balls down the driveway and then send the kids out to find them, whoever found the most would win a prize.  Excellent idea why didn’t I think of that!  This year I think we were only 14 shy of the 48 sent.  Not too shabby!

Today’s menu not unlike many others will be Ham, not the spiraled one, I’m probably on the short list who is not a fan all the ones I have ever had have been so very dry, I go for the monster shank or butt ones, always juicy. Smashed roasted baby potatoes, steamed zucchini and summer squash and I am going to make carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

Have a wonderful day doing whatever it is your family does on this beautiful (this year) Spring Easter Sunday!

Carrot Cake 341

Carrot Cake – Cream Cheese Frosting

4 Eggs

¾ Cup apple sauce

¾ Cup vegetable oil

2 Cups Sugar

2 Tsp vanilla extract

2 Cup AP flour

2 Tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

½ Tsp Salt

2 Tsp ground cinnamon

3 Cups grated carrots

Optional

1 Cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350’ grease and flour 9×13 pan

In a large bowl beat together eggs, sauce, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix in flour, soda, powder, salt and cinnamon.  Stir in carrots. If using nuts fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.

½ Cup butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional

1 cup chopped pecans

Make frosting: in a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. You can also stir in some chopped pecans in this if you would like.  Frost cake once cooled.