Each month, my English department celebrates the birthdays that have occurred among us. A small, rotating team of teachers is assigned to the task of procuring a spread of food and goodies that can put most buffets to shame. I guess we like food around here!
This month, I was on the April birthday celebration group and yesterday we had a table full of everything — fruit & veggies, meats & cheeses, dips & chips, breakfast foods and sweets and a crock pot of chili with all the fixings for lunch. There was no need to brown bag it.
I made these cookie bars and they were not only easy, but the tangy lemon taste with the fruity raspberry was perfect for spring (even though it snowed here again on April 14th — don’t get me started).
I used a can of raspberry pie filling, but you could easily use homemade jam or fruit spread. To make the canned filling more palatable, I added some almond extract and a pinch of salt. It did the trick!
What you need to make these bars (about 30-40 bars, depending on what pan you use):
2 sticks of softened butter
1 3/4 Cup white sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 Cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 12 oz can raspberry pie filling with 1/4 tsp of almond extract and a pinch of salt mixed in
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 1/2 Cups powdered sugar with a pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 350 and prepare a 13 X 18 rimmed baking tray with parchment paper and cooking spray. You can use a smaller tray if you’d like, but your bars will be thicker.
Cream together your butter, sugar and lemon zest in a mixer. Add your vanilla and then your eggs, one at a time, until incorporated and smooth. Sprinkle baking powder and salt on top and mix in, then gradually incorporate your flour. You will be left with a sticky dough.
Spread two-thirds of your dough in your prepared pan using greased hands (if you do not spray the top of your dough with cooking spray or your hands, this will be difficult). The dough will be very sticky. It doesn’t have to be perfect — I like these bars a little rustic.
Once you have a somewhat even layer, spread your raspberry filling on top of the dough, leaving a 1 inch margin on all sides.
Using a teaspoon, drop the remaining dough on top of the filling, spacing each dollop out by about an inch. You should have just enough dough left so it looks like this:
Bake for 22-25 minutes until the edges are becoming golden and the dough on top looks done (I actually touched it to make sure it was somewhat firm, like sugar cookies). Do not over-bake because they will become dry.
While the bars are cooling, mix together your lemon juice and powdered sugar. Add a pinch of salt and drizzle on top of the still warm bars. Allow them to cool completely and cut. These can be stored in an air tight container, layered with waxed paper.