Still enjoying my overstock of preserves, I needed to satisfy my sweet tooth. What better way to do so than with these Raspberry Crumb Bars? A buttery crust accentuated with a touch of almond extract, a layer of good raspberry preserves, and another buttery crumb topping kissed with lemon-- yum! Although my family would devour these at anytime of day or year, I would suggest serving these at a brunch, luncheon, afternoon tea, or even on a dessert tray for the upcoming spring celebrations. They have that not overly sweet, yet fruity finishing touch to end a meal or share at a gathering.
Raspberry Crumb Bars
makes a 9x13- inch pan, cut to any size
For the bottom layer
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup seedless raspberry preserves or jam
For the crumb layer
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cold, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 extra large egg
1 tablespoon milk
Place one oven rack in the upper third position and another in the center. Preheat the oven to 375º F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang on the sides for easy removal.
For the bottom layer, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse on/off until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the milk and almond extract and pulse on/off just until the mixture comes together. Transfer the dough to the pan, pressing firmly in a smooth and even layer. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes. Place the pan on the center rack and bake until barely firm in the center, about 12-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the crumb layer. Wipe the bowl of the food processor out clean. Add the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt; pulse to combine. Sprinkle the butter pieces over the flour mixture and process until the mixture is well blended. Add the egg and milk and pulse on/off until the mixture is moistened and forms small clumps.
When the bottom layer is cooked, remove it from the oven and spread the preserves or jam evenly over the hot crust. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the preserves, breaking up any large clumps with your fingers. Bake in the upper third of the oven until the top is barely browned and the raspberry mixture is bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Remove the pan to a rack to cool completely. Cut into bars. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Joy of Cooking, 1997