December in the kitchen – Raspberry streusel bars

December in the kitchen – Raspberry streusel bars

These bars are a wonderfully easy dessert for a large party, cookie exchange, or other holiday gathering. I dare you to eat only one! It is impossible to resist nibbling at the crumbled cookie pieces left in the pan after they are cut.

Cookie crumbs

Cookie crumbs

The recipe is called raspberry streusel and calls for raspberry jam and fresh raspberries. However, when I was ready to make them not a single jar of raspberry jam was to be found anywhere in the house (I was sure there was one in the pantry somewhere); a jar of mixed berry jam was successfully substituted. The bars turned out delicious. Feel free to substitute any kind of berry jam for the raspberry jam in the recipe, and any fresh (or frozen berry). I even think the bars would be wonderful with apricots if there is a glut in your house. Unfortunately we will have to wait a few months before fresh apricots are in season (dried ones could work if reconsititued…let me know if you try it).

This recipe is adapted from one in Cook’s Illustrated, October 2005.

bar cookies

Raspberry streusel bars

Raspberry Streusel Bars


  • 3 ¼ cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter (12 oz.) at room temperature, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking spray or butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, process flour, sugar, and salt until combined, about 5 seconds.
  3. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour and pulse until mixture looks like damp sand, about 20 1-second pulses.
  4. Remove 1/3 of the crust mixture into a medium bowl and set side.
  5. Line a sheet pan or jellyroll pan with parchment paper and apply baking spray, or coat with butter.
  6. Using your hands or a flat-bottomed measuring cup, firmly press the remaining 2/3 of the mixture in an even layer to form the bottom crust.
  7. Bake until the edges begin to brown, about 12-15 minutes.

Streusel and filling:

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup pecan pieces, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature, cut into cubes
  • 1 ¼ cups raspberry or other berry preserves
  • 2 cups of fresh raspberries or 1 ½ cups of strained thawed frozen fruit (can use strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  1. While crust is baking, make the streusel topping. Add brown sugar, oats, and nuts to the reserved crust mixture; toss to combine.
  2. Work in the butter by rubbing mixture between your fingers until the butter is fully incorporated. Pinch mixture with your fingers to create pea-sized clumps. Set aside.
  3. Make the filling: In a small bowl combine the preserves, berries, lemon juice, and salt. Mash with a fork until combined but some small berry pieces remain.
  4. Spread the filling evenly over the hot crust.
  5. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the filling (do not press).
  6. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the topping is deep golden brown and the filling is bubbling., about 18 minutes.
  7. Cool slightly in the refrigerator before cutting into squares or rectangles with a sharp chef’s knife.
streusel cookies

Raspberry streusel bars


streusel bars

Streusel bars

I’m taking these to share with the gang at Fiesta Friday, you’ll find the party at Angie’s Novice Gardener blog. Please join us!


November in the kitchen – Pot of Chocolate

November in the kitchen – Pot of Chocolate

My friends know I don’t do dessert. I’m happy with cheese and bread, or chocolates and candied ginger, or both. However, I realize that not everyone is of the same ilk. If you are coming to my house for dinner and want to bring something, dessert it is, almost always. There are some fabulous bakers among my friends; their creations are always a hit. I never turn down dessert, as long as I don’t have to make it.

Don’t you think folks fall into two groups, those whose weakness is sweet and those who love salty things? I’m in the later category. Don’t put a bowl of chips in front of me…gone! It’s embarrassing. I like salty, crunchy foods.

However, to get back to dessert and Pot of Chocolate, everyone needs an easy quick delicious dessert in their back pocket. This one is my ‘go to’ recipe. I do love chocolate! The original source is a little book titled “Appendix to the I Hate to Cook Book”. It was published in 1966, written by Peg Bracken, who died in 2007 at the age of 89. The 60’s were the days of Julia Child; this book was for the anti-Julia Child group. Ms. Bracken wrote for reluctant cooks like herself, who knew that some activities — particularly childbearing, paying taxes and cooking — “become no less painful through repetition.” Her book, she wrote, was “for those of us who want to fold our big dishwater hands around a dry martini instead of a wet flounder.”

Of all things, my mother introduced me to the book, she of the classical French cooking school. She could sure cook, but she wasn’t a snob. She made this chocolate mousse for large parties (and never gave out the recipe). So you, my friends, are getting one of the family secrets.

The “I Hate” books are still in print and are fun to read for their irreverent backlash to spending hours in the kitchen.

Ms. Bracken calls this by the fancy name “Pot-de-Chocolat”.

Pot of Chocolate (serves 8)

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ¼ scalded light cream or half and half
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons brandy or run or your choice of liqueur
Coffee Nibs - Pot of Chocolate

Coffee Nibs – Pot of Chocolate

  1. Put the chocolate chips into the bowl of your blender; add the scalded milk, egg yolks and liqueur.
  2. Turn on the blender to high and blend until everything is smooth and creamy
  3. Pour into small teacups or serving dishes (this is very rich, you don’t need very much to satisfy a sweet tooth)
  4. Chill for at least 3 hours, it will firm up as it cools
  5. Garnish with whatever you have at hand…maybe a dollop of whipped cream, or a fresh raspberry, or a piece of candied ginger, a few toasted almonds, or a curl of chocolate. It’s also very good just plain, as-is.

Presentation wise this lends itself to any event you have planned…earthy or fancy.

Pots of Chocolate

Pots of Chocolate

Pot of Chocolate

Pot of Chocolate


Does your taste run to sweet or salty?

I’m hoping that you have all recovered from your Halloween sugar high and are ready for more. So, I’m taking this to party with Angie from the Novice Gardener for Fiesta Friday #41, and Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, and Mouthwatering Monday hosted by Rachel at Southern Fairytale. Come join us at the party.


I am very excited to be featured in this week’s Fiesta Friday. Thank you Angie.  Don’t miss the fantastic dessert created by Angie at the The Novice Gardener in honor of the movie “The Grand Budapest Hotel”.

Fiesta Friday I was featured