Raspberry oatmeal bars

I wanted to make some treats for a couple of good friends the other day.  One of them recently moved back after three years across the pond so we were excited to be able to meet back up again like we used to.  I decided to bake whole wheat chocolate chip cookies (one of my favorite recipes) and these raspberry oatmeal bars.

I think I was the main beneficiary of this bake because the house just smelled amazing as these bars baked and cooled!  Just think...butter, brown sugar, toasted oats, and candied raspberry all swirling together in the warm air.  It was intoxicating and I was honestly content to just enjoy that aroma.

This was easy and fun to make.  I took the Pioneer Woman's strawberry oatmeal bars but used raspberry jam instead.  I popped open a jar of Stonewall Kitchen's seedless raspberry jam - one of the things I picked up from their main company store in York, Maine when we visited a while back.  Shopping in that bright cheerful store was a whole lot of fun!
There are just basic ingredients and components making up these raspberry oatmeal bars.  Take a big bowl and stir together flour, oats, brown sugar, and a couple of other dry ingredients, then cut in butter.  This becomes the base and top layer of the bars while a layer of the raspberry jam goes in between.  Pop it in the oven and magically, you have this aromatic, sweet and buttery treat.  The darker, crusty golden edges were my favorite part.

I baked the bars in a 9-inch pan instead of the 9x13 suggested in the recipe because they looked thin in the larger pan and I noticed a couple of comments about a smaller pan working better.  I don't know about you but I prefer some height in a bar.  I settled for my 9-inch square pan and I'm glad I did because the bars ultimately ended up being about 1-inch thick and that was just what I was looking for.  
There's a lot of sweetness going on here so it's a real treat.  I love the old-fashioned oats giving the bars plenty of chew and substance while the raspberry jam just livens things up. 
I packed up most of these bars for my friends but I had a few left, which I saved mainly for my hubby, who enjoyed them immensely.  I certainly hope the treats put a little smile on my friends' faces.  I think cooking and baking for people is such a joy and a great way to show you care.  I came home with cookies and goodies of my own from my generous friends and I can assure you I had a smile on my face and felt the love... 

Don't you love an old-fashioned bake that doesn't require plugging in the stand mixer?
Just use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the oatmeal, flour, and brown sugar mixture.  The butter should be cold but I can confirm that it works well if the butter is chilled but not rock-hard.  This way, it makes breaking down the butter into coarse bits a whole lot easier.
When I saw the mixture in my big bowl, I was worried that maybe I should have used a larger baking pan after all.  However, once you pack half the mixture into the bottom of the pan, layer on the jam, and add the second-half on top, you'll see it all fits and the result will be about 1-inch tall bars.
It took right about 35 minutes for my pan of oatmeal bars to be golden brown and ready.  A little bit of the raspberry jam bubbled up and out of one corner.  It all smelled intoxicating.  The dark brown corners are extra crunchy and delicious.
Let the oatmeal bars cool in the pan.  Then I lifted the whole thing out of the pan using the parchment overhang and sliced them into 16 bars.  They are a treat to share and savor.

Recipe:

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars
Adapted from the Pioneer Woman's strawberry oatmeal bars

- For one 9-inch pan; cut into 16 bars - 

14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) cold (but not ice cold) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup lightly-packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 jar (10-12 oz.) seedless raspberry jam*

* Instead of raspberry jam, you could another kind such as strawberry or apricot.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9-inch square baking pan (this makes about 1-inch thick bars; you could use an 8-inch or larger 9x13 inch pan depending on whether you want a thicker or thinner bar).  Line the pan with a piece of parchment paper, allowing about 2 inches of overhang on either sides.  Grease the paper as well.  
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter until you have a coarse meal.  Take half the mixture and place it into the prepared pan.  Press the mixture into the pan to make an even packed layer.  Gently spread the raspberry jam evenly on top using an offset spatula.  Sprinkle the remaining half of the oat mixture evenly over the top and just lightly pat it into the jam.

Bake until golden brown on top, about 30-40 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan.  Once cooled, lift bars out of the pan using the parchment overhang. Cut bars 16 bars/squares using a serrated knife.  



38 comments:

  1. You know I completely embrace you philosophy of sharing home baked love, Monica. Baked goods simply taste better when love is baked in. :) I bet your lucky friends were delighted with these bars! A fruity, chewy oat bar and the company of friends must have made for a great day!

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    1. I agree, it's all about the intention/the care that goes into something you cook and doing it for someone you like brings that out. My friends are so nice...I'm sure they could care less how it actually tastes...they're nice people like that. : )

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    2. No worries on taste, I am sure! They may not care how the treats actually taste...but they happen to have an amazing baker for a friend! :)

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    3. Thank you, Wendy. They are great bakers/cooks as well! Let's have a treat in honor of good girlfriends. ; )

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  2. Oatmeal bars are one of my favorite treats. Love that you made them in a 9x9 pan since I feel the same way about thicker bars. They look and sound amazing with the raspberry jam! What a treat to make for your friends, I'm sure they loved them and finished the batch in no time :)

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    1. Yes, I can't imagine these at about half this thickness. Oatmeal bars - with oats and brown sugar and all that buttery goodness...it's hard not to like.

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  3. Yes...yes..I can imagine the smell of these baked goods in the kitchen. I agree with you that there's nothing better than sharing your home baked goods with friends. I am pretty sure they were overjoyed. It's been a while I did anything with raspberries..thanks for the sweet reminder:-)

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    1. It smelled so incredible...I was wishing it would linger there for day. : )

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  4. You have me long for some oaty treats. These bars look terrific!

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    1. What would we do without oatmeal. It's one of *the* greatest things!

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  5. I can imagine the awesome baking aroma coming out from your kitchen. These raspberry oatmeal bars looks super delish and super fun! :)

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    1. Definitely so fun to make these. I always benefit in the end. : )

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  6. Bars like this are my absolute favorite - and these sound awesome with the raspberry jam! I love how few ingredients are needed too - and I usually have everything in the house! Win!

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    1. Yes, it's amazing how basic pantry/stock ingredients can make the tastiest little things! : )

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  7. What a wonderful gift for your friend, and your husband. I love the aroma of the oats and jam and butter - it is intoxicating! I agree the smaller pan seems to be the way to go - thicker is better in a bar cookie. Love your photos! Have a great week :)

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    1. It really did smell intoxicating! : ) Thank you...I was glad they turned out into these 1-inch bars using the smaller pan.

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  8. Jam bars are kinda the best thing ever- love this :)

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  9. Oatmeal bars are my favorite! I feel like they're so wholesome. I generally make mine with blueberries or blueberry preserves so I'm digging this raspberry twist!

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    1. I always think 'red' for whatever reason when I'm thinking these kinds of bars. Blueberry preserves sound very, very good!

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  10. I love raspberry oatmeal bars! The height of your bars looks perfect.

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  11. My kind of cake, I love this kind of bars, preferably with some really sour jam....:) Yummy!

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    1. Now you have me thinking of lemon bars when you said 'sour...' Yum!

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  12. omg. I love this cake! so healthy and delicious!

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    1. I don't know about healthy but it sure is tasty. ; )

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  13. Oh how yummy! I can definitely imagine how amazing the aroma must be in your house after baking these bars. I always love recipes that have memories of friendship in them (:

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    1. The smell was incredible. Big side bonus.

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  14. These bars look divine! I love seedless raspberry jam, it's my favorite jam!

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    1. I find it hard to find seedless jam so I snapped this up when I saw it. : )

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  15. I LOVE these kinds of bars - they're kind of like a fruit crisp except super heavy on the oat topping (which is the best part). I wish I had a square to enjoy right now!

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    1. That is *exactly* right! It's very much like the best part of a fruit crisp, intensified! : ) Thanks, Amanda!

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  16. I love raspberry jam! These bars look so good!

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    1. I was never a jam girl growing up but now, I see how it works so well...

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  17. I wish that I live near you. I don't know anyone who bakes and cooks well like you in my neighborhood (there's a guy who smokes meats really well though), and it's bummer. I can totally imagine the smell in the house like you described... I wish I was in the kitchen with you. I could totally dig in after it's been done! Sounds delicious!

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    1. It's probably good for your waistline that there are not too many bakers in the neighborhood. I know many a wonderful thing comes out of your kitchen so no worries. ; ) Hope all is good and you are enjoying your new kitchen!

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  18. Look at that beautiful golden color! Crunchy is what I like! I would love to be your good friends, who always get tasty treats from you. :D

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    1. There is a bakery called Bien Cuit in Brooklyn and when I learned the meaning, "well-done", I thought it was genius because it's often the browned, "well-done" parts that are the tastiest in many baked goods/pastries/breads. I loved the well-browned bits here.

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