Raspberry Bars for MJ

February 4, 2012 at 10:14 pm Leave a comment

Mary Jane, my sister, was disciplined, a talented violinist and a dedicated teacher of very young children. I can’t remember a time in her life when she was not passionate about music, family, exercising and eating an incredibly healthy diet.

A diagnosis almost two years ago of brain cancer changed her life, but she taught us all many lessons about determination, grace and hope. Until last November, she was able to continue enjoying her family, travel, exercise and the things she loved. In her final months, she didn’t seem to care so much about her healthy diet and she craved cookies. I baked so much the last few months of 2011, mostly because of her. At our family cookie bake after Thanksgiving she sampled one of each type baked. I loved watching her face, eyes closed as she took in the flavors.

Butterscotch bars and gingerbread cookies were requested the most in her last few months and I was more than willing to oblige. “We should all live on these butterscotch bars,” she commented.

A few days before Christmas she was admitted to hospice  in a local hospital. I slept by her side for five of her last seven nights there. She was still eating solid foods her first few days in hospice and I brought her some raspberry bars filled with her homemade jam, one pictured from the batch at right.  She loved picking raspberries, and usually made pies and jams. I think this was the last cookie she ate and she declined rapidly, passing just before the new year.

Saying I miss her is not adequate and it’s been tough to think about baking, blogging, and even work has been difficult the past month.

I started this blog a year ago because I decided to dedicate time to sharing a passion. I know she would not want me to stop now. This one is for you MJ.

Raspberry Streusel Bars

Generously grease 13 x 9″ baking pan.

Sift together in a large bowl:

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

sprinkle over top:

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Using a pastry blender, 2 knives or fingertips, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Stir together:

3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon almond extract

Sprinkle the mil mixture over the flour mixture. Lightly stir to blend. Knead until milk is distributed and the particles begin to hold together. If needed, add more milk. Mixture should not be wet.

Firmly press dough in pan. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.

Bake chilled dough in center of oven until barely firm in center–12 to 15 minutes.

Spread evenly on hot crust:

1 cup seedless raspberry preserves or jam

To prepare streusel, mix together:

1 3/4 cups flour

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teasp. salt

sprinkle over the top:

8 tablespoons butter (cold, 1 stick, cut in small pieces)

Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture is well blended.

Using a fork, stir 3/4 cup sliced, blanched almonds and 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Beat together lightly and stir into the flour mixture until the streusel is moistened and forms small clumps.:

1 large egg

1 tablespoon mile

Sprinkle streusel evenly over top of raspberry preserves. Bake in upper third of oven until streusel has browned and raspberry mixture is bubbly. 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the pan to cool completely. Cut into bars.

 

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