How to Make Fresh Raspberry Bars

Sprinkle with Powdered Sugar
Scott Peacock, American cooking guru and Better Homes and Gardens contributing editor, shows you how to get extra flavor with minimal effort when you bake these go-anywhere fresh-fruit dessert.

American Classics: Fresh Raspberry Bars

These creamy, crumbly dessert bars by Scott Peacock are filled with berry jam and fresh berries. See the following slides for step-by-step instructions for getting them right.

Make the Shortbread Base

Add brown sugar and salt to blended butter (see recipe for instructions on blending butter). Beat on low speed until the flour mixture is incorporated, 30 seconds to 1 minute. "You're not trying to cream it, you're just mixing it in," Scott says. With mixer off, add the 2 cups of flour. Beat on low speed until flour is incorporated. Increase speed to medium, mix until ingredients form an even, cohesive dough. "People tend to undermix shortbread, which makes it too crumbly," Scott says. "It's tough to overmix because of the amount of butter we use."

Press Dough into Pan

Break dough into small chunks and distribute in foil-lined pan; with your fingers press dough into an even layer. Bake 20 minutes or until dough has begun to puff and is just set. Cool on a wire rack 5 minutes.

Prepare Sides of Pan

Lightly brush exposed sides of foil with softened butter to keep filling from sticking.

Top Shortbread with Jam

Spread raspberry jam or preserves evenly over crust.

Top with Fresh Berries

Sprinkle the jam-covered shortbread evenly with raspberries.

Shred Lemon Peel

With a lemon zester, remove peel from lemon, making sure to avoid the bitter white pith. "For the most flavor, you want to do this right before baking," Scott says.

Make Custard

In a large bowl teat cream cheese and goat cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Mix in granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon flour until blended. With mixer running, add egg, egg yolk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. "The custard filling is a blend of cream cheese and goat cheese, so the bars have a little bit of savory edge to them," says Scott.

Add Custard Layer

Pour the custard batter evenly over the raspberries. Tilt the pan back and forth to distribute the batter evenly. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until barely set. Transfer to wire rack until completely cool, about 1 hour; cover and transfer to refrigerator. Chill 2 hours. Top will crack slightly as it cools.

Remove from Pan

Use foil to lift the bars from pan. With a knife or metal spatula, support the sides of the bars while you gently peel the foil downward and away from the sides of the bars.

Cut Bars

Cut into long bars, peel foil from bottom, and transfer to cutting board using side of a long knife or spatula. "Cutting first on the foil results in cleaner edges," Scott says.

Add the Finishing Touches

Sprinkle the bars very lightly with powdered sugar. "It's much more interesting with just the rumor of sugar on top," Scott says.

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