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This is the bar recipe I turn to when Spring arrives.  The sort of inspired, super-simple recipe that I love: Bright raspberries and tart cherries layered between a perfect oatmeal-almond shortbread crust.  Yup, pretty much bar cookie heaven.

One might think it is the perfect dessert or snack, but let’s pause to contemplate this.  The fruit/oatmeal/almond combo actually works as a breakfast food.  Just ask my teacher colleagues – a particularly educated, nutritionally savvy lot.  I wandered into the morning staff meeting clutching a cup of coffee (trying desperately to caffeinate myself into coherence), armed with a box full of these babies, and they all disappeared by the time the meeting wrapped up at 8am. I’m not sure I was yet fully caffeinated and coherent, but I was awake enough to know that is still breakfast time.  So that makes them a breakfast food… right?

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I’ve been recovering from a bit of a food-blogging conference hangover all week. Not the alcohol-induced kind… more the sleep-deprivation-information-overload kind.  In the best possible way.  Over the weekend, I flew off to Minnesota to hang with a crew of awesome bloggers at the Pinch of Yum Photography Workshop. I never fully understood how to take my camera off “auto”, so I decided it was high time to address that little to-do item… and a came home inspired to address a few dozen others.

Let me tell you, Lindsay runs an AMAZING workshop… It was SO much fun.  And even better to visit old friends in Minnesota, who are pretty darn awesome.  I’ve decided there are few things in life better than connecting with old friends… other than perhaps getting to spend time with the kids of old friends.

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As I’ve been obsessing about the look and feel of my photos (beyond the mechanics, which still need a bit of work as well), I decided to spend a few blog posts practicing all I learned by re-shooting photos that were pretty darn terrible the first time I posted the recipe.

And I decided to start with these bars…  Aren’t they pretty?  The tart raspberry, cherry filling oozes out between the layers of buttery, oatmeal shortbread… and did I mention they are super-simple to make?  The hardest part about shooting these was not eating the entire batch!

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I think my photography has improved already…

A few things I’m crushing on at the moment:

I’ve been working on Summer Reading lists at my day job, and have a huge stack of pre-reading I can’t wait to do… At The Red Balloon in St. Paul, one of the booksellers thrust a copy of Tru & Nelle in my hands, about the childhood friendship of Truman Capote and Harper Lee… (they indeed grew up together in Alabama) I’ve just started it and am captivated.  Also have a big stack of YA stuff, and can’t wait to dive into the Art of Secrets, I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place… to name a few! Has anyone read them?

Have I mentioned I’m completely obsessed with Hamilton?  I’ve listened to almost nothing else on Spotify for months… Michelle Obama called it “the best piece of art I’ve ever seen in any form in my life.”  I totally agree.  Loved the performance by the cast at the White House last week, but the Grammy opening was better…

Looking for other awesome bars?  My Salted Alfajores Bars continue to be the most requested baked good at House Morell.

I just can’t stop thinking about the terrorist attacks in Belgium.  So terrifying and heartbreaking… Love and prayers to all involved.

Raspberry-Cherry Crumble Bars
 
Adapted (just barely) from Cindy Mushet and Sur La Table, The Art & Soul of Baking (Andrews McMeel)
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • Ingredients:
  • 1¾ cups flour
  • 1¾ cups old-fashioned or quick oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) cold butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 16-ounce jar good quality raspberry jam
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, preferably dry-roasted
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan parchment paper.
  2. Mix the crumble dough: Place the flour, oats, brown sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer and beat on low speed until evenly mixed. Add the cold butter and mix on low speed until the mixture looks like wet sand and starts to form clumps, 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Bake the bottom crust: Divide the dough in half. Pat one half into an even layer in the prepared pan. Set the other half aside. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and crisp.
  4. Make the filling: Empty the jar of jam into a medium bowl and stir well to break up any lumps. Add the cherries and stir until well mixed and all the cherries are coated with jam. Spread evenly over the bottom crust, all the way to the edges.
  5. Add the almonds to the remaining dough and sprinkle evenly over the filling. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
  6. Transfer to a rack and cool completely, 1½ to 2 hours.
  7. Cut into bars and serve.

 

These bars are so good, I thought I’d share them with the crew at Fiesta Friday!

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12 Responses to "Raspberry-Cherry Crumble Bars"
  1. These bars look delicious MB!

  2. Harriet says:

    These bars are nothing short of heaven!

  3. So glad you stopped by the BHK Mary Beth because now I get a chance to see all that Bourbon and Brown Sugar has to offer! Love your blog! Sounds like you had so much fun at Lindsay’s workshop! Lindsay and Bjork are so talented! I have to say, as soon as I started my blog her eBook, Tasty Food Photography was the first thing I bought! It was the best money I ever spent! When I bought my camera, I too was scared to death to even turn the dial to manual! Still so much to learn, but one day at a time right? These bars look delicious, so I can see why they didn’t last long at your teacher’s meeting! Can’t wait to give them a go! Happy Easter!

  4. Okay, these fruity little things are definitely my new crush. A perfect dessert for spring and summer! Yum!

  5. Hilda says:

    I would love one of these bars right now! And yes, your photography is impressive. I would love to go to one of those workshops even though the idea is a little intimidating. I am encouraged by your experience.

  6. CakePants says:

    These bars are making my mouth water! I love the combination of raspberry and cherry flavors. That sounds like a fun conference, although I have to agree with Hilda…I’ve always been a little intimidated at the thought of attending one! I’m glad you had such a positive experience.

  7. That workshop sounds amazing!!! What a great idea to go back and re-shoot…I have some posts that could use some fresh eyes. These bars sound equally amazing!!! They look too too good!! xoxo

    • mb says:

      I would happy give not-so-celebrity endorsements for that workshop – I can’t wait to go back to do the “advanced” version someday! Thanks Rebecca!

  8. Wow – love that you took a photography course with Lindsay – you must have learned so much. I belong to food blogger pro and Bjork and Lindsay are so generous with their time and comments – i don’t think I could have started blogging without FBP. Love these crumble bars and I can see why they were gone in no time. Thanks for the Red Ballon recommendation – always looking for a good book to read.

    • mb says:

      I realized I should have signed up for Food Blogger Pro… I’m now on their waiting list… I have been bumbling along doing SO many things all wrong 🙂 (Though I’m not too fussed…I love the time I spend on this blog 🙂 SO true, Lindsay has the most generous spirit imaginable – and she is a natural teacher!

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