Thursday, April 15, 2010
The arrival of Spring always makes me crave fruit. The trouble is that it's still a bit too early to get much fresh fruit - or at least fresh fruit that hasn't travelled across the country to get to my plate. Another thing I like about Spring is that it's still cool enough to turn on the oven and not so hot that room temperature butter is soup. Take the two together and baking fruity treats is just the ticket.
I've been on a raspberry kick of late. I bought some raspberry sorbet and a big jar of raspberry jam. I got the jam home, went to put it in the cupboard and found... another big jar of raspberry jam! Ooops. Jar number one must find a suitable use. I flipped through a couple baking books and found a recipe I liked in the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. Her Jam Crumb Bars had only a few ingredients and would be the perfect use for my jam. They needed a little something extra though so I added some almond extract and toasted coconut.
These buttery, rich bars are easy to make. They require cooling time in between baking so throw something else in the oven to make good use of the heat while the crust cools. The limited number of ingredients is a welcome change to many of the dishes I attempt and believe me, these have all the flavor in the world: butter, raspberry and almond with a hint of toasted coconut. Yum!
Feel free to substitute your favorite jam (or whichever flavor you accidentally bought 2 jars of). Strawberry, apricot, blackberry - anything would pair nicely with the flavors. And until more fresh fruit arrives, these are full of fruit flavor (which makes them healthy, right??).
I'll be craving another fruit dessert soon, so leave a comment with your favorite or a link to something you've made...
Raspberry Almond Crumb Bars with Toasted Coconut
adapted from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook
1/2 cup coconut
2 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces, plus extra for pan
1 3/4 cup blanched almonds, finely ground in a food processor
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional)
1 3/4 cups raspberry jam (or use your favorite fruit jam)
Preheat oven to 350F. Sprinkle the coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until toasted, stirring occasionally.
Butter a 13x9-inch cookie sheet (1/4 sheet pan), then line the bottom with parchment allowing about an inch to hang over on each of the long sides. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almonds, sugar, and salt. Sprinkly the almond extract over the mixture and the cut in the butter using a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Using your fingers, squeeze the mixture together to create pea-sized crumbs with a few larger clumps.
Transfer 2/3 of the mixture to the prepared baking dish and press it firmly and evenly in the bottom of the pan. Use a rolling pin to flatten the crust. Be sure there are no holes or cracks. Bake until light golden all over, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Combine the cooled toasted coconut with the remaining crumb mixture.
Spread the jam over the cooled crust. Sprinkle the ramining crumb mixture over the jam, squeezing some into clumps. Bake about 20-22 minutes until the topping is light golden and the jam is bubbling around the edges but not too dark. Remove pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
Run a kinfe around the edges and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into individual bars. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.