Raspberry Granola Bars
We're already a week into March! Where does the time go? I felt like last year flew by, and this year isn't slowing down any. Are you feeling the same way, or is it just me?
I know I've been insanely busy between my two jobs, cooking/baking, blogging, and trying to keep up with friends and family (or in other words attempting to have any sort of social life). My boyfriend laughs at me for it (maybe because we live together and see each other every day), but I often suggest that we schedule in some date nights, just so we don't let the time get away from us.
I'm planning to write a more-detailed post, but just to catch you up quickly (because who knows when I'll actually write it), I wanted to let you know that I've gone from part time to full time at the bakery and also switched to a different location. It's definitely a lot to take on all at once -- meeting new people, figuring out my new commute, adjusting to a new schedule, and learning so many new things -- but it's very exciting, and I'm still loving it and having lots of fun. Stay tuned for details!
With all the baking I'm doing at work, you'd think I wouldn't want to bake anything at home, but strangely I often want to bake more. I made blueberry muffins and raspberry almond blondies this morning, and it's my day off! Perhaps the bakery inspires me. I've figured out that baking is definitely my passion. I never get tired of it -- though sometimes I do get very tired in general. It's because of this incessant urge to bake that I'm able to share amazing recipes like the one below with you.
Because I'm so busy and running around like a nut all the time, I'm trying to keep some relatively healthy (take that with a grain of salt because I'm definitely far from a health nut), filling snacks on hand. While I'll sometimes just pick up granola bars or yogurt at the store, I prefer to make my snacks.
While flipping through an old (October 2009) issue of Food & Wine, I noticed a granola bar recipe that looked vaguely familiar. Upon further investigation, I saw that the bars were from my favorite cookbook of the moment -- The Craft of Baking. I knew a recipe featured in one of my favorite cookbooks and one of my favorite magazines would have to be a winner, and it was. The middle consists of raspberry jam, and the top and bottom layers are a sweet streusel with pecans and rolled oats. One bite and I was hooked.
Back-to-School Raspberry Granola Bars (adapted from The Craft of Baking and Food & Wine)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped and well toasted
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup raspberry preserves or jam
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the rolled oats, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and pecans. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the melted butter until the oat mixture is thoroughly combined.
Press two-thirds of the oat mixture in an even layer on the bottom of the prepared baking pan, and spread the raspberry preserves on top. Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the raspberry preserves.
Bake the bars for about 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until the top is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the granola bars cool completely, about 3 hours. Cut into squares and serve.
These are the most wonderful granola bars, accurately described in Food & Wine as crumbly soft and jammy sweet. I didn't even want to add chocolate to them after taking a bite of one -- and that's saying a lot! If I could have a constant supply of them in the house, I don't think I'd ever buy granola bars at the grocery store again. And I don't even think I could get sick of them because it's pretty easy to change up the flavors.
While I love raspberry jam and think the raspberry version would always be my favorite, I could see using another flavor or even fresh fruit in the middle. And I'm sure the type of nut used in the streusel could be varied as well. What kind would you make?