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Serve up summer in edible form with these Raspberry Streusel Bars

"Home with the Lost Italian" columnist Sarah Nasello says there's not much better than a buttery shortbread base topped with a generous smear of raspberry jam, followed by a layer of fresh raspberries, finished with a crispy streusel topping.

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Sarah's Raspberry Streusel Bars are easy to make and filled with the flavor of summertime.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum
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FARGO — Raspberries are my favorite summertime fruit, and they are beautifully displayed in these Raspberry Streusel Bars. What could be better than a buttery shortbread base topped with a generous smear of raspberry jam, followed by a layer of fresh raspberries, finished with a crispy streusel topping? This is summer in edible form.

I have two large raspberry patches in my backyard, which I planted 21 years ago in the hope that I would someday have a child who would love picking, and eating, this luscious fruit. I am delighted to report that I do, and our raspberry patches have been a source of joy for my son, Giovanni, and me ever since he was a toddler.

Now that he is approaching his last year at home before flying off to college (gulp!), I find myself wanting to fill this time by making as many of his favorite recipes as possible. These bars are at the top of that list, and I am grateful that I will soon have a large supply of hand-picked raspberries at my disposal.

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Fresh raspberries are scattered over the raspberry jam to maximize the flavor of this popular summer fruit.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Until then, the fresh raspberries that are now available in our local markets will work just fine. I find the best value for fresh raspberries at either Costco or Sam’s, where a 12-ounce pack costs about $5.75, compared to 6 ounces for $3.99 in most grocery stores. You could also buy frozen raspberries if you prefer — just be sure to thaw and pat them dry before using them.

This is an old-fashioned kind of bar recipe that comes together easily with common baking ingredients. The shortbread base is the same recipe I use to make my Luscious Lemon Bars (another favorite) , and it is a simple combination of butter, flour, sugar, vanilla extract and salt. I use melted butter for this shortbread, which creates a wonderfully rich and dense crumb.

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A generous amount of oatmeal streusel is sprinkled over the raspberry layers to give texture and sweetness to the bars.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Making the shortbread is a quick process, as you simply stir all the ingredients together until combined and then press the dough into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. I prefer to use a glass baking pan, as it retains heat better than metal, and I line the dish with parchment paper on the bottom and over the sides to ensure easy removal once the bars are baked.

The shortbread bakes at 325 degrees until the edges become just lightly golden brown, which takes about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven. The warm shortbread is then topped with raspberry jam, fresh raspberries and the streusel topping and then goes back into the oven at 350 degrees to bake until the streusel is golden brown, and the juices are bubbling along the edges.

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A buttery shortbread base is baked until lightly golden around the edges, and a layer of raspberry jam is spread onto the warm crust.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

The bars will cool at room temperature for 30 minutes and are then refrigerated for at least two hours before slicing. When ready to serve, simply lift the parchment out of the pan and cut into bar size, as desired. The bars will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least five days, and in the freezer for up to three months.

You can make this recipe with any berry and jam combination, but in our house, they are always the most delicious when they are Raspberry Streusel Bars.

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The bars are baked until golden brown and the raspberries soften and sink into the streusel.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Raspberry Streusel Bars

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Shortbread ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt (skip if using salted butter)
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Raspberry filling:
1 ½ cups raspberry jam
6 ounces fresh raspberries (about 35 raspberries)

Streusel topping:
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil and leave some hanging over the sides so that the bars will be easy to remove when ready.

In a medium-large bowl, add the melted butter, flour, sugar, vanilla and salt. Use a wooden spoon to stir together until fully combined. Tip the dough into the prepared baking dish and use a spatula, your hands or the back of a spoon to firmly press the dough into the pan in a smooth, even layer.

Bake the shortbread until the edges just begin to turn a light golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and increase the heat to 350 degrees.

Spread the raspberry jam evenly over the entire surface of the warm shortbread, and then scatter the fresh raspberries on top.

To make the streusel, in a medium bowl, use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to mix the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour until fully combined. Use a pastry blender, 2 forks or your hands to cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs of varying size. Sprinkle the topping over the raspberry filling, using all of it.

Bake the bars until the streusel is golden brown and the juices are bubbling at the edges, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight, before slicing.

Once chilled, lift the parchment out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the bars as desired.

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Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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Pools of jammy raspberry flavor are sandwiched between a rich and buttery shortbread crust and crispy oatmeal streusel.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.

Related Topics: FOODRECIPES
“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.
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