mom’s old world raspberry bars [neighborfood blog]

Throughout my childhood, a good friend’s mom used to make one specific dessert for parties: jam tarts. They were her specialty, and truly, nobody could make a jam tart like her. (Still can’t!) Jam tarts–or just jam bars or raspberry bars, as I eventually realized most people refer to them–are one of the most comforting desserts I’ve come across. In fact, they probably top chocolate chip cookies in my mental list of perfect childhood-reminiscent baked goods.

Oh yeah. I went there.

In a wave of midterm sadness and Relay excitement, the thought of jam bars came popped into my head–and then refused to leave. So I scoured the interwebz and decided that this recipe for raspberry bars from Neighborfood Blog had the perfect proportions and the most convenient ingredients for my purposes.

Plus, the recipe describes them as “happy, homey, springtime comfort food”. Too perfect to pass up!

With limited time and no desire to overspend on ingredients, though, I had some tweaking to do.

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Thanks to my mom (who is frequently horrified by the dining hall food I eat daily), I had a stash of walnuts and almonds on hand, so I used those instead of the pecans.

Don’t do what I did. Don’t try to finely chop almonds by hand. (Unless, of course, you’re good at it, which I clearly am not.) If you want something quick and easy, stick to softer nuts like walnuts and pecans, or pulse the nuts in a food processor a couple times.

I did eventually get the almonds down to a reasonable size, though, thankfully, and tossed them into the bowl of a stand mixer. I halved the recipe–there’s a scary amount of butter in here, guys, 2 sticks even when it’s halved, but so worth it–and replaced half of the white sugar with more brown sugar. Because why not have more wonderful molasses flavor in your life? I also left out the oats and coconut and instead added half a cup of crushed graham crackers.

I coincidentally didn’t have anything but a muffin pan handy, so I decided to make individual jam tarts. The halved dough and a 10-oz jar of raspberry jam made 15 full-sized tarts.

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The raspberry jam slathered over the nutty dough and peeking through the crumbled top made me so happy. ^_^

Into the oven for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees, and out came fifteen bubbling, golden, flaky and crunchy raspberry jam tarts!

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I usually prefer a lower crust-to-jam ratio so that the raspberry flavor really comes out, but I could honestly eat this dough on its own–especially fresh out the oven.

If I were to make them again, though, I would definitely add the oats, and a dash of cinnamon. Taste testing by my friends showed that yes, these tarts were just begging for a hint of cinnamon in the dough.

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These tarts are also definitely best fresh out of the oven. They’ll store in an airtight container, but they won’t have quite the same flavor the next day.

UofC friends: I know you’ve got finals coming up. I know you want some cupcakes. I am somehow magically free for a lot of finals week, which means you should all order cupcakes! I’ll happily deliver them to make your finals week a little bit brighter. 🙂 Get that last order in before the quarter is up!

Hope everyone’s enjoying their Saturday night! Happy June 🙂

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