A Delicate Delicacy: Raspberry Crumb Bars

Even though I made some raspberry bars just last week, I couldn't help myself from trying Joanne Chang's recipe for Raspberry Crumb Bars from her recently released cookbook last night. This recipe caught my eye the first time I flipped through the cookbook, because of the interesting preparation method.

The top and bottom and top layers of this bar are comprised of a delicate shortbread made from butter, sugar, powdered sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt. After you mix up the batter, you shape three-quarters of the dough into a patty and stick it in the refrigerator; you stash the remaining portion of dough in the freezer. After a few hours (or up to a few days), you roll out the chilled dough to make the bottom crust. You bake the crust alone before cooling it a bit and spreading on raspberry preserves. You then sprinkle grated bits of the frozen dough over the raspberry layer, and bake the bars some more until the top is golden.

After the bars cool, all you need to do is sprinkle them with some powdered sugar to get an absolutely gorgeous, very refined-looking dessert.

According to the recipe directions, you are suppose to make these bars essentially free form -- rolling out the bottom layer of dough to an approximately 9- by 13-inch rectangle and trimming it so that sides are even, and baking the crust on a larger baking sheet. Then, after the other layers are added and baked, you are supposed to trim the edges again before cutting into nine bars. (Nine? Cutting a 9- by 13-inch rectangle into nine bars will yield ginormous serving sizes!) I thought that so long as I was rolling something out into a 9- by 13-inch rectangle, I might as well just drop it (including the parchment on which it was rolled) into a 9- by 13-inch pan before baking it. Then there was no extra trimming needed at the end and no additional waste.

The shortbread in this bar literally melts in your mouth. I normally think of shortbread as being quite firm, but this shortbread had a delicate, ethereal texture. The buttery shortbread with the slightly tart preserves and the touch of sweetness from the confectioners sugar on top made for a delectable flavor combination.

I prefer this bar over last week's back-to-school raspberry granola bar (in large part because I love the texture of the shortbread), but Tom can't decide which one he likes better. The bars are a bit difficult to compare. The granola bar is a homey and comforting mix of textures and flavors, while this bar is a slice of elegant sophistication. Both are delicious.

Recipe: "Raspberry Crumb Bars" from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe, by Joanne Chang.

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Suelle said…
This week's bar certainly looks more elegant but I can see a need for two different recipes! :)
norabell said…
I just made these bars and wanted to see if I could find a picture to see how my bars sized up. I may have rolled mine out a tad too thin. The next time I will place the dough directly into a 9X13 baking pan. Thank you for the picture!!!