HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL MY AMERICAN READERS!
Berries in general (except for strawberries) were not part of childhood. They were either impossible to find in Brazil or terribly, terribly expensive. It took me a while to warm up to them once I moved to the US. At first I did not care for fresh blueberries, and found raspberries impossibly tart. Maybe aging changed my taste buds, or maybe it’s the result of my gastronomic stubbornness: if I don’t care for something the first time I try, I go back at it a few months later, with an open mind. Whatever the case, I now adore all berries, including the uniquely tart raspberries, or as they are called in Portuguese framboesas. Cute name, almost as cute as the French framboises. Obviously, it’s almost impossible to beat the charm of the French language. N’est-ce pas?
Today I share with you two recipes showcasing these cute berries, both from food blogs I follow and love. The first recipe comes from Gayle’s site, and in a nice coincidence exactly one year ago I reviewed her book The Global Pastry Table. Her recipe calls for raspberry jam (I used store-bought, but you can go the virtuous route and make your own). The second recipe, from Lynda’s blog, calls for a mixture of preserves and fresh fruit. In another nice coincidence, I also reviewed her book in a not too distant past. Both recipes turned out delicious, and will be perfect for the holiday season coming up…
PECAN-RASPBERRY THUMBPRINT COOKIES
(from Pastry Studio)
(Makes about 60 cookies)
14 1/4 oz (3 cups + 2 tablespoons) flour
6 oz (1 1/2 cups) pecans, toasted
3 oz (1 cup) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 oz (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup raspberry jam
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silpats.
Place the flour, pecans, powdered sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the nuts are finely ground. Cut the butter into 1/2” pieces and add along with the vanilla. Process until the dough begins to form clumps around the blade.
Roll the dough into 1 1/4” balls and set them about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Press your thumb gently into the middle of each ball to make a well for the jam. Stir the jam to loosen it and then spoon about 1/2 teaspoon into the wells.
Bake until the cookies are golden brown, about 17 – 20 minutes. Place the pans on a wire rack to cool.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: These cookies were a lot of fun to make, but of course I think there is room for improvement. By the way, I halved the recipe and got about 32 cookies. Next time I want to make them a little more uniform in size, and also smooth out the surface a little better. But, this time I went with a rustic look. When in doubt, apply “rustic” to the title of your productions and everyone will be impressed… Let this be our little secret. And one more secret for you… do you know when I made these cookies? Six months ago! I’m not kidding you when I say I’ve got way too many things waiting in line to go public. Which also explains why I’m giving you two recipes in one single post, after all I don’t want you to wait six more months to enjoy these amazingly delicious raspberry squares that I made just a couple of weeks ago. See? I don’t always blog at a snail pace.
RASPBERRY ALMOND STREUSEL BARS
(slightly modified from Taste Food)
for the crust and topping:
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup almond flour
½ cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
for the filling:
3/4 cup raspberry preserves
1/4 cup apricot jam
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 opposite sides. Butter the parchment.
Combine the flours, almond meal, sugars, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and extracts. Pulse until mixture is coarsely blended, 10 to 12 times. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mixture to a bowl to reserve for the topping. Press the remaining mixture firmly and evenly into the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Place the preserves, jam, and raspberries in a bowl. Mix with a fork to combine, lightly mashing the whole raspberries but leaving large pieces intact. Spread the mixture over the crust. Add the almonds to the reserved topping, then sprinkle the topping over the filling.
Bake until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cut in small squares. Serve at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: It goes without saying that the combination of raspberries and almonds is a classic. In these bars, the cinnamon component will also be quite prominent. The three flavors together form a superb trinity! I think the almond extract could be omitted if you don’t have some hanging around in your pantry, but I must say it adds a lot to the crust and topping. Make sure you let the whole thing cool completely before slicing, or it will crumble on you. I actually placed the whole baking dish lightly covered with aluminum foil in the fridge and sliced it several hours later. I cut the squares a little smaller than Lynda did, ending up with 25 squares instead of 16. Since I take these treats to the department, I like to maximize the number of servings so that more people can profit from a little sweetness on a busy morning.
I hope you enjoyed this double feature with a raspberry theme. I find that desserts and cookies made with raspberries are never overly sweet, the tartness of the berries cuts through the sugar and brightens up everything. Plus, how can anyone resist that intense red color they offer? So gorgeous!
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