Meet Leona. She is sweet. Unassuming. Another streusel bar you're saying. Sigh..next blog...but wait! There is more to this girl's story. Is that coconut I smell? And oats I see? Yes and yes. These bars were the second recipe I decided to try in the cookbook I borrowed from the library, One Girl Cookie. A cookbook I have since returned to the library, but added to my amazon shopping cart. Each cookie has been given a name from which a good story I am sure lies behind each and every name chosen. The desserts are wonderfully rustic, yet simple, and so far proven to be quite delicious. These bars are a close cousin to a raspberry streusel bar, but which calls for yes the aforementioned coconut and oat addition, but also a touch more salt then you may be used to adding. Don't be afraid, you read right. A WHOLE teaspoon. The salinity, Dawn, cookbook author and owner of the Brooklyn-based bakery, says marries wonderfully with the sweet raspberry jam. "Bottle rockets in your mouth" she promises..and well she delivers folks.
For me, I have my own little story now for this cookie. Does anyone remember the sunscreen song? I am pretty sure that this song was my senior year song. "If I could offer you one piece of advice for the future. It would be this. Wear sunscreen." Well sunscreen, yes that's important. My advice? Turn the oven on. I can hear you laughing now. Obviously you didn't turn the oven, you're saying. You got it. Perhaps you have been there? You know those days, where everything you touch doesn't work out quite right. It is like the anti-Midas touch I call it. I am happy to say though it was a mistake that did not cost me in the end for these scrumptious bars. (Of course, they took a little more time then I was expecting. A bar cookie! Perfect I will be in and out of the kitchen in no time!) Right if you remember to turn the oven on.
Ideally, the recipe calls for you to bake the bottom layer. Let the bar cool for 10 minutes. THEN spread the jam and sprinkle with a reserved portion of the coconut and oat mixture. Me? Nah. I decided to let the bar get acquainted with my oven first, sans heat. I then, took the bars out. Spread the jam on and sprinkled the crumbly, yummy coconut, oat mixture and popped them back in. Seven minutes later...Hmm, my raspberry filling is not bubbling. I wonder, why? Oh- Oven. Not. On. Right. So my bars cooked all at once, all three layers. The good thing?... nothing seemed to compromised. Granted, I have nothing to base this on, except myself and co-workers gobbled them up. So if you try this recipe, let me know what you think if you bake them the way you are supposed to. You know, oven on first.
Raspberry Coconut Oat Bars
Makes 24 small, or 12 large bars
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 raspberry preserves
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast it in an oven for 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool. (Leave the oven on.) I am not kidding it actually says that in the recipe! So much for that!
3. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking pan by greasing it with cooking spray and then lining the bottom with parchment paper.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. Mix on low speed to combine. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the dough just starts to come together. Add the toasted coconut and the oats. Mix on low speed for 1 minute.
5. Reserve 3/4 cup of the dough. Transfer the remaining dough to the prepared pan. Using your fingers press it evenly over the bottom of the baking pan. Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through for 14 minutes, until the crust is golden around the edges. Let the crust cool for 10 minutes. Spread the raspberry preserves evenly over the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border.
6. Crumble the reserved dough over the preserves. Bake for 7 minutes, or until the preserves are bubbling. Let the bars cool completely.
7. Loosen the edges of the crust with a small metal spatula. Invert the pan over a large baking sheet, releasing the bars onto the baking sheet. Remove the parchment paper, and invert the bars again onto a cutting board. Using a thin, sharp knife, cut them into 2-inch squares.