Tuesday, November 27, 2007

'Tis the season to start baking

My Holiday Baking Song (with apologies to “Deck the Halls”)
’Tis the season to start baking,

Fa la la la la la la la la.
Making sweet treats for the taking,
Fa la la la la la la la la.

Don we now our cups and spoons,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Days are short now, hello Moon!
Fa la la la la la la la la.

Stir the butter with the flour,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Wipe off that frown, don’t be sour,
Fa la la la la la la la la.

Turn on the oven, grease your sheets,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Drop balls of dough to make your treats,
Fa la la la la la la la la.

Cookies will make people happy,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Genuine joy, never sappy,
Fa la la la la la la la la.

It’s cold outside, but my kitchen is warm,

Fa la la la la la la la la.
Baking for others, night to morn,
Fa la la la la la la la la.

Whew, there’s something about this time of year that makes me feel musical! I have to say (much to my family’s disappointment) I’m not one to go to church very often. But I always look forward to Christmas Eve services because I get to belt at the top of my lungs some of my favorite songs.

Technically, however, it’s not Christmas yet. Nor is it even Advent, which doesn’t start for a few days. Growing up with an Episcopal priest for a mom, we were always made very aware the differentiation between the two seasons. For a few years, in fact, we didn’t even put up our tree until Christmas Eve. The upside to this waiting was we celebrated the full 12 days of Christmas, which meant a new gift for each of the 12 days. And while I didn't receive a partridge in a pear tree, life still felt like a song.

It’s never too early to start baking, however, and as Susan over at Food Blogga is hosting a roundup of Christmas cookies for the next few weeks, I wanted to share one of my favorite Christmas cookies—Mom’s raspberry bars—while the baking season was still young.

Mom started making these about 10 years ago and there’s nothing particularly Texan about them, but trust me, they’re addictive. She fills tin after tin with these at the holidays, and if there are any left by Christmas Day it’s only because I’ve squirreled some away to take back to New York with me. She also sends them to me in the mail from time to time, and it’s always a happy day when they arrive, as even the most miserable grump will soften and smile after one bite. To quote one grateful eater: “These are pure heavenly decadence. Can I have another, please?”

They’re not complex—just a mixture of raspberry jam, almonds and white-chocolate chips all nestled on a buttery cake base. But it’s the combination of flavors that make me (and everyone else) swoon. They’re highly portable and make a great gift or dessert offering. Just make sure there’s enough to go around, as these usually disappear fast.

So, ’tis the season to start baking! Fa la la la la la la la la!

Mom’s Raspberry Bars
Ingredients:
1 cup butter
4 cups vanilla/white chips
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. almond extract
1 cup raspberry fruit spread or preserves (I use the kind that is fruit only without sugar)
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat.
3. Remove and add 2 cups vanilla chips. Let stand, do not stir.
4. Beat eggs in mixing bowl until foamy.
5. Gradually add sugar, beating at high speed until lemon-colored.
6. Stir in chip mixture; add flour, salt, and almond extract.
7. Beat on low speed just until combined.
8. Spread half of the batter in a greased 13-9-2 inch baking pan.
9. Bake in the oven 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
10. Stir remaining chips into remaining batter. Set aside.
11. Melt fruit spread in saucepan, then spread evenly over baked batter.
12. Gently spoon remaining batter over fruit. Sprinkle with almonds.
13. Bake 30-35 minutes more.
14. Test for doneness.
15. Let cool and cut into squares or bars.
Makes 6 dozen (according to how big your squares/bars are)
Freezes well.

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41 comments:

Meeta said...

These are gorgeous looking treats
Fa la la la la la
More than the eyes do meet
Fa la la la la la
Something truly yummy
Fa la la la la la
May I have one for my tummy
Fa la la la la la

(I tired) Hugs!

nikkipolani said...

Hurray! A ship-able recipe is very useful just now as I'm making up parcels :-) Thank you.

christine (myplateoryours) said...

These sound wonderful. I've always thought I would like your mum and this is just more evidence. They sound great as they are, but I am not really a raspberry girl. Do you think these would be as delish with cherry jam?

ann said...

Boy, if I were ever to come work with you, I'd really really want to have the cubicle next to yours so I could have first dibs on the treats!
I bet your co-workers love you!

Blue Yonder said...

Lawsy mercy! You do know the way to a girl's heart. These look divine!

Lydia said...

You can come bake and sing in my kitchen any time!

Sarah said...

Okay, I NEVER do this, but after reading this recipe I ran out and grabbed white chips so I could whip this up immediately, and I am SO glad I did! It's heavenly! The only reason my husband and I stopped short of inhaling the whole pan is so that he can bring the leftovers to share with his platoon tomorrow. Thanks SO much for this awesome recipe!!

Amelia said...

Sounds delicous.

I don't think I could get 72 pieces out of it though.

Kathryn said...

Been trying to figure out what to make my norwegian co-workers. Think this will do just fine!
Hope you had fun in Texas for Turkey day! I head to Houston for Christmas!! First time in 5 years and I am SUPER excited!
thanks for the recipe!

Susan said...

Lisa,
These are gorgeous -- not your average Christmas cookie. Many thanks to you and your Mom. Also thanks for putting "Deck the Halls" into my head for the next three hours... :)

Linda said...

mmm. i'm so making this for dessert Christmas Eve. Thanks for the recipe. these look so hearty and satisfying. yum!

Homesick Texan said...

Meeta--Thanks for joining me in song--I love your lyrics!

Nikkipolani--You're welcome and they do ship very well.

Christine--I think they'd be wonderful with cherry jam as cherries and almonds go so well together. Plus, the cookie is more about the almonds and rich vanilla.

Ann--They do love the sweets, that's for sure!

Blue Yonder--Why thank you!

Lydia--I just may take you up on that offer if I'm ever in Rhode Island!

Sarah--Hurrah! I'm so glad you enjoyed them. Aren't they addictive? That took some restraint to save some for your husband's platoon (though I know the bars will make them very happy!)

Amelia--That would probably be 72 very small pieces.

Kathryn--Wow--it's been five years? Have a wonderful trip!

Susan--Thanks! And there are far worse songs than "Deck the Halls" to have stuck in your head.

Linda--They're very satisfying, though it's hard to eat just one. Enjoy!

Melissa said...

Drool, drool, slurp, slurp...

Oh man, do these look good! I wonder if your mom would consider adopting me? :)

p.s. Am I correct in assuming that 4 cups of chips weighs about 24oz? You know, since I live in a deprived part of the world where white chocolate is only sold in bars...

Nicole said...

Wow, sounds so decadent! You had me at one cup butter...

Julie said...

Any baked good that includes raspberry jam (or raspberry in any form) has my immediate attention.

Jodie said...

Sounds yummy (even though I'm not a fan of white chocolate...) My husband (diabetic) can probably have it if I substitute splenda for the sugar. The fruit spread that I found in San Antonio at HEB is very low in sugar and fantastic tasting! Perfect! Thanks!

AnnieKNodes said...

Mmmm...almonds, white chips, raspberries. With recipes like this I'm never going to lose those last few pregnancy pounds. Tip: Don't have a baby right before the holidays.

Cynthia said...

Fa la la la la, la la la la... it is baking time isn't it :)

Olivia said...

Wow, that's really cool that your mom was an Episcopalian priest.

Yeah, I know, the first thing I pick up on is not the food, but that.

Anyway, I love baking with almonds in - either slices or the paste. Especially the paste.

Mom said...

....and her mom still is an Episcopal priest!
I do love baking these for you and your brother.
I generally prefer all things chocolate, but this non-chocolate cookie is definitely worth the calories.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love bars! Those look scrumptious and highly "dirty"! Yummy!

Cheers,

Rosa

K said...

Ooh, I can't wait to try these! Thanks for sharing with us! :)

Pouncy said...

Used blackberry jam as I had no raspberry. My diet hates you now, in the best way.

SteamyKitchen said...

I sang the whole way through! my kids think i'm nuts!

Homesick Houstonian said...

I'm tempted to try this with dark chocolate chips....

mSjEnA said...

WOW that sounds good - I think I'll make that today.. It's cold and raining here and it's the perfect time to bake.. Thanks for sharing !

Kelbeaux said...

Holey Moley Batman! This sounds like a wonderful treat for Christmas Eve. Transportable? I dont think they will make the drive from Round Rock to Angleton. They may all be consumed before hitting the city limits of Hempstead. LOL

Homesick Texan said...

Melissa--Hmmmm, I thought it was 8oz to a cup--though I'm not very good at conversions.

Nicole--"You had me at one cup of butter" I love it--can I borrow that line sometime?

Julie-Raspberry jam always gets my immediate attention as well, though I'm not that fond of the berries in their natural state.

Jodie--If you don't like white chocolate, I reckon they'd be tasty with dark as well.

AnnieKNodes--That's what New Year's resolutions are for, to get rid of all that holiday cheer!

Cynthia--It is indeed!

Oliva--I've never baked with the paste. What do you make?

Mom--Well, it is white chocolate so that sort of falls into the chocolate category.

Rosa--They're very scrumptious, so much I can't stop eating them!

K--You've very welcome.

Pouncy--It feels good to be hated in the best way--I'm glad you enjoyed them!

SteamyKitchen--Doesn't everyone sing out loud what they're reading on the Internet?

Homesick Houstonian--I think they would be great with dark chocolate chips.

MSjena--These cold, rainy (or snowy) days are the BEST for baking!

Kelbeaux--Ha! I have to agree, it takes great will to not eat all of them in one sitting.

Dana said...

Mmmm... As far as I'm concerned, almonds and raspberries are a match made in heaven...

Mansi Desai said...

wow!! these are so amazing!!! I can smell the lovely flavors and they are oozing with your mom's love in the form of that gooey raspberry jam!!!:) thanks so much for sharing the recipe with us:)

Happy cook said...

Just saw this in the cookie site from susan, they are just delicious looking.
Will try them.
I have raspberry jam left so should try it

Habeas said...

These are beautiful. And I just love that your mother still sends them to you.

Katy said...

love these. they look amazing!

CC said...

Made your Mom's Raspberry Bars. They were a big hit!

Thanks for sharing your/her recipe.

eliza said...

these cookies are a killer! thanks for sharing the recipe, i'll definitely try it in the future.

http://fooddiary.blogsome.com

Half Baked said...

Love the song! Now that that tune's stuck in my head I guess I'll have to whip up a batch of your yummy looking Raspberry bars:)

Homesick Texan said...

Dana--I agree with you wholeheartedly!

Mansi Desai--They are amazing, and I'm very grateful that Mom bakes them for me.

Happy Cook--I hope you enjoy them!

Habeas--Thans! And no matter how old you are, it's always nice to receive care packages from your mom.

Katy--Thanks!

CC--Yea! I'm so glad they were a hit!

Eliza--You can't go wrong with these, that's for sure!

Half Baked--Tis the season to start singing!

michelle said...

Oh... I've gotta try these! Good luck in the finals! :)

Anonymous said...

Indeed, these are addictive. I keep making 'em over and over and over again to try and get over my addiction. It hasn't worked . . . and I'm glad. Thanks for a great recipe.

Sarah said...

I have been making a few batches of these every year since you posted - this is the 5th year and they are loved every time. Thanks so much for sharing!

plainsgal said...

Finally had the need for dessert and the white chocolate chips on the same day! These are divine, and the tart raspberry jam is a great spring flavor. Thanks for another keeper!

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