There is absolutely no reason why kosher food and desserts have to be anything less than what everyone else is eating. Share with me your baking and cooking sucesses, challenges, and disasters. I will share my recipes, shabbat and holiday menu planning and my love of food.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Raising the Bar

I was craving my raspberry bars. Maybe it was looking at the book photo or remembering how I couldn’t stop eating them the day of the photo shoot. My fabulous photographer and friend, Michael Bennett Kress, preferred the pecan bars during the shoot, but both of us started at the trimmed off edges of each pan and slowly worked our way in.

So there I was making raspberry bars one Friday this spring and when the bottom crust was baked, it just seemed too pedestrian to spread jarred jam when I had a fridge full of luscious, seasonal berries. I got out the rasps and blues and squished them with my hands, added sugar and some flour and spread that over the bottom crust and grated the remaining dough on top. You can serve it warm or cold, though I like the chilled bars better.

After several Shabbat meals and snacks, we still had half the pan left on Sunday. I may have also made chocolate mousse that weekend. Berries can never compete with chocolate. Sunday afternoon, three hours into the seven total of my daughter’s regret over having donated 8 inches of her hair, I needed a pick-me-up. I told my son Sam, who LOVES fruit desserts, to get us two soup spoons. He asked if we needed plates and I responded, “Why?” We sat down and inhaled the remainder of the pan. Somewhere into the final corner of the pan, things were looking up. Sam and I licked our spoons. I took Emily to get her hair layered and her friends on skype pronounced the new style gorgeous. This dessert made my stressful afternoon ever so much sweeter.

Berry Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) parve margarine, frozen for 15 minutes, plus extra for
greasing pan and parchment
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh raspberries
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan with some margarine. Place a piece of parchment in the pan that is large enough to go up the sides and hang over a few inches. Grease the top and sides of the parchment.

To make the crust: Place the flour and sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process for 10 seconds. Cut the margarine into pieces and add to the bowl. Process or use your hands to mix for another 10 seconds. Add the vanilla and egg yolk and then process or mix until the dough just comes together.

Divide the dough in half, making one piece a little bigger. Wrap both pieces in
plastic; flatten and place the smaller one in the freezer. Take the larger piece and break it into pieces and scatter over the parchment. Press the pieces into the pan as evenly as you can. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. 
Meanwhile place the raspberries and blueberries into a large bowl and squeeze with your hands to break up the raspberries.

Add the sugar and flour and squeeze together. This part is fun, but you may still want to use plastic gloves as I did.  Remove the other dough piece from the freezer and, using the large holes of a box grater, grate the remaining dough over the filling. 

Bake for 50 minutes, or until the top starts to look golden brown. Let cool. Trim off about ¼ inch of the sides, if desired, and eat them immediately, and then cut into squares or long bars. Serve warm or cold.