Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fresh Raspberry Maple Oatmeal Bars & Cream Cheese Icing

One recent cool day, our neglected oven abruptly demanded, turn me on! But what to bake? The raspberry bushes energetically nodded, us of course! Harvesting yielded just two cups and before I could think that was not enough for serious baking, the smallish and exceedingly stylish ceramic casserole that my sister-in-law and I agreed was a must have when we went to Emmaus* during her visit from Britain a few weeks ago, breathlessly uttered, use me, my dear!

These juicy, fruity, buttery bars make a wonderful dessert...or breakfast...or brunch...or snack. Their flavour stands up even after they spend the night in the fridge.

(makes six 2 x 2.5 inch rectangles if using a 5 inch x 6 inch dish though recipe can be doubled and doubled again necessitating a 8 inch x 8 inch pan for the former and a 9 inch x 12 inch one for the latter)

Flour, white, plain, 4 fluid ounces
Oatmeal, 4 fluid ounces
Sugar, white, 2 fluid ounces
Maple syrup, 1-2 T
Baking soda, a large pinch
Salt, a small pinch
Cinnamon, a large pinch
Nutmeg, freshly grated, a small pinch
Butter, sweet, softened, 4 T

(makes about 8 fluid ounces of filling plus around 3 fluid ounces of juice for the icing)
Raspberries (reserve 6 for garnishing), fresh, 16 fluid ounces
Sugar, white, 1-2 T
Lemon juice, freshly squeezed, 1 T

Strained raspberry juice from cooking the berries, around 3 fluid ounces
Icing sugar/confectioner's/powdered, around 2 T or to taste
Cream cheese, 2-3 T, more can be added for thicker consistency
Raspberries, 6

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take butter out to get to room temperature. Add the maple syrup to the sugar.

It's a nice substitute for brown sugar

Rinse the berries. I tossed in the few strawberries remaining in the potager.

Strawberries were coarsely chopped, the raspberries were left whole

Heat gently all the filling ingredients, mashing them a bit as they cook for around two minutes. Reserve.

Mix all the dough ingredients except the butter together.

Work in the butter. Using my fingers, it took me about five minutes. The mixture needs to look like coarse, damp sand.

When properly mixed, the dough will clump if a small amount is pressed in your hand.

Spread ten fluid ounces of dough into a generously buttered pan. Firmly press down.

Spoon the strained berries and spread them 1/4 inch from the edges of the dough so the side of the bars will mostly stay dry making it easier to remove from the dish.

Scatter the remaining over the top and lightly press down.

Bake around 35 minutes or until nicely browned.  As the kitchen is being suffused with the most appetising aroma, make the icing. Strain the berry juice through a fine sieve.

Add the powdered sugar and cream cheese. Start mixing with a spoon, mashing the cheese. When almost smooth, switch to a wire whisk. Put in the fridge; when cold, it thickens.

Let the cake cool completely before cutting into bars.

Top with a dollop of the icing and a raspberry.

The icing added an appreciated creaminess to the crunch.

Dirac, after being with us for three weeks, is putting on weight. Not only does Dirac love his food, he also loves our food, and so fervent is this love that he kisses us after we finish a meal especially if there was cheese in it.

If any fingers recently have handled butter, he ensures that they will be clean in no time flat. His meow is closer to a cranky sheep's baah which when Dirac is being denied butter and confined inside lasts for a very long while.

Because of Dirac's over-eager mouth, pens, the more fragile of computer cables, anything really, is put away and put away in such a rush that we have no idea where we have put them. In a way, it is packing, but we have no place to go!

À la prochaine!

*All of us, that is, four adults and two kids had agreed to meet at a designated spot around closing time. One adult did not show up. So another adult went into the cavernous main building to see if any help was required. A few minutes passed and yet another adult decided to check the situation out. Noting the concerned faces of my nephew and niece, I solemnly promised, The building that eats adults will not get me.