Raspberry-Nut Christmas Bars

If you’re read my About page, you’ll know that I am a sucker for savory food.  Sweets, not so much.  But cookies are different – they’re not desserts; they’re in a category all their own.  I love cookies.

You can have cookies at any time of they day or night.  They feel like a little present to yourself.  They also make great presents for others.  Cookies inspire happiness.

These bar cookies are inspired by an old recipe from the now-defunct California Pistachio Commission.  I played around with the recipe and made a few changes, and now these bars are a must-have during at Christmas at Glover Gardens.  They’d be good any time of year, but we just make them for the holidays.

The appeal of these bars is their diversity: the nuts provide a salty crunch and the sweet, soft gooeyness of the raspberry jam perfectly compliments the crumbly, shortbread-like crust.

Depending on the size of the baking dish you use, the recipe makes about 30-40 bars.  You can use an 8×8, 9×9, or even 8×11 baking dish.  I like the 8×11 oblong because the bars are a little thinner.

Ingredients

  • ½ lb. butter (two sticks), softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2/3  – 1 cup raspberry preserves or jam (or any favorite jam or preserves)
  • IMG_12731 cup fancy mixed salted nuts, roughly chopped (I often use Planter’s Pistachio-Lovers Mix, which also includes almonds and cashews)

Cooking Instructions

Lightly grease a 9-inch square pan (or similarly-sized rectangular pan). Preheat oven to 325 F. Combine butter, sugar and egg in a mixer or large bowl; beat until blended. Stir in flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Divide the dough in half and  and use your hands to pat / spread one half over the bottom of the pan, setting the other half aside. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.  The crust will still be soft at this point.

While the dough is baking, add the mixed nuts to the remaining dough and stir until blended. Heat the jam in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave and stir until it is warm enough to pour, then spread it over the hot crust.  (Use 2/3 cup if you are baking in a square pan, and 1 cup if you are baking in a larger, oblong pan.)

Use a spoon to drop the remaining dough in small amounts over the jam to cover. It is OK if small areas of jam “peek through,” as this will make for a beautiful presentation.  Return the bars to the oven and bake for about 35 more minutes (until the top is golden brown).  You can turn the broiler on for the last two minutes if you’d like a browner crust.

Remove from the oven, cool, and cut into squares.

Push the dough into the pan with your fingers to make the crust.  Playing with your food is fun!
Push the dough into the pan with your fingers to make the crust. Playing with your food is fun!
Spread the preserves smoothly over the (very soft) crust.
Spread the preserves smoothly over the (very soft) crust.
Start dropping the nut crust by spoonfuls over the raspberry preserves.
Start dropping the nut crust by spoonfuls over the raspberry preserves.
When you're finished, the raspberry filling will just peek through the top nut crust.
When you’re finished, the raspberry filling will just peek through the top nut crust.
The finished product has a lovely, golden-brown crust.
The finished product has a lovely, golden-brown crust.  I gave this batch a couple of minutes under the broiler at the end of its cooking time.
I like to serve these bars at holiday parties with decadent partners, like drams of Chambord (raspberry liqueur).
I like to serve these bars at holiday parties with decadent partners, like drams of Chambord (raspberry liqueur).

If you’re serving these bars in a dessert buffet, they can be cut in smaller, bite-size pieces.  But beware – they are addictive!

Copyright 2015, Glover Gardens Cookbook

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