I absolutely loooove raspberries.(I may be addicted) My love for them began when I was little girl and my Dad told me they were his favorite fruit. Dad and I had a really special relationship, so I stored this little fact for future use. I was always trying to make him happy and proud, so when weeks later my sweet Mom bought me a little raspberry bush from a road side stand, I hatched a plan to make my Dad super happy. Mom and I planted that little bush and I tended to it like a tiny baby; sitting by it for hours with the hopes of seeing the first berry pop. In my little gardening head I was already envisioning myself carrying a huge basket of raspberries to show my family and feed to the neighbors. After a couple of weeks, I was really starting to lose the faith. My raspberry bush was broke, I decided, nonetheless I awoke early one morning and walked outside in my jammies to check my broken little bush. And there they were! 4 plump little raspberries and 1 mutant little raspberry looking thing, which looked a little sketchy.
I plucked those berries so fast, I practically ripped up the entire bush. I remember putting them in a ginormous bowl and carrying them into my Dad, like I was bringing him gold. I had a moment where I thought he might laugh at my teeny little crop, but as soon as he saw them he made a huge fuss, ate all of them, even the little mutant one. Once done with my little raspberry feast, Dad gushed and smacked his lips like my raspberries were the best thing he had ever tasted. In hindsight, I realize now they were most likely awful and bitter, but because my little 7 year old brain just wanted a darn berry, I had given no thought to letting them grow into a real raspberry. I do remember feeling incredibly proud of myself, and without ever even tasting one, I declared from that day forward, raspberries were now also my favorite fruit.
It’s funny, I can remember all of that, but I just cannot remember the day I actually ate my first raspberry. Nevertheless, they are indeed one of my favorite fruits. The tart and intensely flavored fruit is so delectable and pairs so wonderfully with chocolate it is insane. Raspberries are not just for desserts either. I’ve made marinades, salad dressings, BBQ sauces, alcoholic beverages…. the possibilities are endless In fact now that my brain is churning on raspberries, I am realizing I may have a problem. I have added them in to so many meals in so many ways, I might very well need a 12 step program. Hmmmm…….
Alright, enough with my reminiscing. How about I tell you something I’ll bet you didn’t know about raspberries; a raspberry is made up of many tiny bead-like fruits called “drupelets” clustered around a core. Each drupelet contains one seed, and one average raspberry has 100 to 120 seeds. That’s a ton of seeds, right? I am a total food geek and thought that fact was kinda cool.
Raspberries have a very short shelf-life; so the freshest berries should always be selected if possible. Perfect berries are firm and glossy with no signs of moldy or wrinkled fruit. It is always a good idea to turn over the little raspberry container and inspect the bottom before purchasing. A stained bottom, or even the sides for that matter, indicates raspberries are overripe and beginning to decay. Once you are home, raspberries should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within 1 to 2 days. Do not wash raspberries until right before use. Moisture will hasten their decay. They should also be kept cold, but not too cold. They are very sensitive to freeze damage. When you are ready to use them, wash them with a gentle spray of cold water and lightly pat dry with a soft paper towel.
Okay, enough of my food trivia and facts. Let’s bake!
This recipe is also a very easy bar dessert. It may seem like bar recipes are all I’ve been posting, but I just can’t help myself; there are just so many wonderful bar desserts, and I want to share! I’ll make some candy next week to switch thing up a bit.
This recipe is without fail; always a huge hit whenever I’ve been asked to bring dessert.
Raspberry Crumble Bars
- Raspberry Filling (below)
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, or margarine, softened
- 1 ½ cups quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup Gold Medal all-purpose or whole wheat flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Make raspberry filling
- Heat oven to 400°. Mix brown sugar and butter in medium sized mixing bowl.
- Stir in remaining ingredients until the mixture is crumbly
- Press half of the crumbly mixture in to an ungreased rectangular pan, 13 x 9 x 2 inches.
- Spread the filling over the top
- Top with remaining crumbly mixture; press lightly
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup water
- 2 ½ cups fresh raspberries (2 cups of cranberries are also a delicious substitute)
- 1 tablespoon of grated orange or lemon peel
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Directions For Raspberry Filling*
- Mix sugar, orange juice and water in a 1 ½-quart saucepan.
- Heat to boiling
- Stir in remaining ingredients
- Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened; cool
This recipe can make 2 to 4 dozen bars depending how large you cut them.
*NOTE If you are in a hurry, you can also buy a larger sized jar (at least 16 oz.) of really sugar-free raspberry preserves. Just heat in a sauce pan until boiling. Add whatever citrus zest you prefer, and cook over medium heat until thickened.