Two days ago found me taking everything out of the freezer so I could see what the heck was really in there. Actually I was looking for one last bag of frozen cherries from summer’s bumper crop. There were no cherries left, but I did find two jars of frozen raspberry puree that were dated two years ago. They had been meant for jam, but, well, jam is not really my thing, and Mr. H.C. has been too busy to make jam. Yeah, for the last two years…
I took one jar out and let it thaw. Yesterday I used some in my breakfast smoothie, but these were quart jars, folks. Then I thought maybe I’d make a raspberry rhubarb pie, because, yeah, I found some rhubarb too. But the thought of making a pie crust was too daunting. I’ve been cooking a lot. I’ve been eating a lot. And I’ve been adventurous in trying out new recipes, but yesterday just wasn’t a day for pie crust. I’m sure you know what I mean.
During this quarantine, we’ve been working on the bathroom. Mr. H.C. has been doing the lion’s share of the work. I’ve been doing what I can, when I can, but today he is taking out the old toilet and probably replacing some of the floor that has rotted around it. That seemed like a rotten one-person job, so I thought I would make him a treat out of this raspberry puree. After all, he picked the berries, he made the puree, and he’s taking out the old stinky toilet; it’s the least I can do.
It took me awhile to find a recipe that passed muster. Quarantine kitchens are odd to cook from, you know. Some things you have, some things you don’t. And we’ve been trying to be good, and only go to the grocery store once a week. So when I found this recipe, it seemed to be a basic bar cookie recipe that could take a lot of changes. Feel free to change it up if you don’t have a jar of raspberry jam or puree in your pantry; but I just gotta say, that the raspberry and chocolate combo is REALLY DELICIOUS. Plus, I really like bar cookies. So easy. No spoons. No baking sheets. No 8-10 minutes and then do it all again. I really like bar cookies.
This is an old Cooking Light recipe. Here are the ingredients, with comments on how you can make this your own. This has no eggs, so it could easily be vegan if you use coconut oil instead of butter.
- 1 cup oats
- 1 cup flour (I used regular unbleached because I had it, but often I use almond flour or coconut flour as a substitute, and I think that would work here too.)
- 5 T. softened butter (I used 3 T. ghee and 2 T. coconut oil–any combo would be good.)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (Sugar. Ahem. I lost 25 pounds last year by not baking much, and when I did, I used Swerve or Lankato as a sugar replacement. I’m currently out of all sugars except some organic cane sugar I get from Aldi. So that’s what I used. I cut it back to 1/2 cup in the crust though, with no problem and I added a teaspoon of molasses to give it the brown sugar feel and taste.)
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1 t. vanilla, or almond, or whatever goes with what you are making…
- 10 oz. raspberry jam (So…I had puree. Which is runnier and unsweetened. So I took that 1/4 cup of sugar that I left out of the crust, and added it to the puree. It tasted good, so I went with it. The runny bit I just hoped wouldn’t matter, and it didn’t… Feel free to sub here. I think this was originally a type of date bar cookie, so you could add any kind of jam you have, or pumpkin, or applesauce, or cooked dates, or raisins… it can be your own jam…)
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips (Yeah, I didn’t have chocolate chips either… But what I did have was a Moser-Roth dark chocolate and sea salt bar from Aldi. I chopped up three of those little individually wrapped bars and got a heaping half cup. This is a lesson in using what you have. If you’re using applesauce or pumpkin, nuts would be good…)
- I added 1/4 cup shredded coconut to the flour mixture. Cacao nibs would be good too if you like crunch.
Lightly grease an 8×8 pan and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Mix together the flour, oats, salt, and soda and set aside.
Mix the softened butter/oils and sugar until well combined. Add the vanilla, and then add the flour/oat mixture and stir well. It will be crumbly. Take out 3/4 cups of the flour mixture and add the chocolate chips. Here is where you can make any other additions as well–coconut, cacao nibs, nuts, etc. Press the larger amount of the flour/butter mixture into the pan. Reserve the part with the additional ingredients–this will be the topping.
Pour the jam, fruit puree, applesauce, pumpkin, whatever you are using for the filling on top of the pressed in crust. Then sprinkle the reserved topping all over and pop into the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned or bubbly. Cool on a wire rack and cut into 16 squares for nice dainty bites, or 9 squares for a good dessert-sized bar. If you used chocolate, I would recommend serving after 30 minutes, while the chocolate is still melty…
I’m thinking that this recipe is going to be different each time I make it. The texture of the chocolate-raspberry is almost like a moist brownie. But with no eggs, I had to think about what gives it that deliciousness. The liquidity of the raspberry purée ran down through the crust and changed the texture in a wonderful way. I’m pretty sure the texture and thickness of the raspberry jam called for in the original recipe would give these bars more of a traditional date bar type feel.
In the interest of not wanting to give you all disinformation (Ahem. I could go into a rant here…) I made this same recipe the next day with my frozen pumpkin purée. This might indicate to you that, yes, we ate the whole chocolate raspberry pan very quickly. What else is there to do?
So I can verify that this recipe can take whatever substitutes you want to throw at it. The pumpkin version was made with half almond flour and half unbleached flour. The crust was delicious. Again, I only added 1/2 cup sugar and added the other 1/4 cup into the pumpkin puree. I did not add anything else to the pumpkin (except spices) but I’m also pretty sure, you could add eggs and cream and make it a pumpkin pie bar…)
I added cashews to the topping but any kind of nuts would be good. Except sunflower seeds. Don’t add sunflower seeds. I made that mistake earlier in my quarantine baking experiments. They turn your baked goods green. It doesn’t taste bad, but it looks moldy and unappetizing.
I think my next experiment with this recipe will be rhubarb/raisin. But peanut butter and grape jam might be good too… Hey, we’ve got time to try lots of combinations, don’t we?