The other day, a friend called. She wanted to talk about our plans to celebrate another friend’s birthday. We had already discussed having a barbecue, and she followed up with that. She talked to the birthday girl and hashed out a menu, including baby back ribs, potato salad, grilled vegetables…the works. When asked about what kind of cake she would like, the birthday girl replied, “Well, you know I’m not much of a cake person. But those cranberry bars you make! Those would be great!”
Of course! That was it. Raspberry bars. That was what she wanted for her birthday dessert.
When my friend recounted this conversation, I was so flattered! You can compliment my outfit or my shoes (neither of which happen, like, ever), but compliment my baking or cooking by requesting it for your birthday and I’ll melt.
I feel like in our culture we hype the birthday meal as a cornerstone of the celebration. And it makes sense; we often go out to dinner for birthdays, or throw dinner parties, or somehow mark the celebration with the meal. And, rightfully so, the birthday girl or boy usually gets to pick the menu, selecting his or her favorite items. I love this tradition. I have so much fun baking for people and cooking for my family, that I relish the opportunity to show them I care with food.
But–the piece de resistance–the birthday dessert. That’s the most important part of the birthday celebration. That’s where you put the candles, that’s when you sing happy birthday, that’s the moment. And my friend asked for my raspberry bars.
Raspberry Almond Bars
adapted from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 Tablespoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 4 cups raspberries, washed and patted dry
Preheat the oven to 375. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with pan spray. Set aside. Toss the raspberries with the 1/4 cup sugar and set aside.
Stir together the flour, 1 cup of sugar, the baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in the butter until it is uneven pieces, some the size of peas, some as small as oatmeal flakes. Mix in the eggs, almond extract, and almonds. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Top with the raspberries. Crumble the remainder of the flour mixture over the top of the raspberries.
Bake the bars for 40 minutes or until they are lightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack.